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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1363

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - I think that emotion has taken charge of some honourable members today, and perhaps I can alleviate some of their distress. Referring to the statement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), at the outset I want to impress upon this House and on all people interested in this matter that the recommendations set out in the report are not mandatory. All or any one can be rejected. The report will probably suffer the same fate as have other reports which have been presented to this House. I say without reservation or equivocation of any kind that the interdepartmental committee's report has no statutory power whatsoever and, as I said previously, it will probably suffer the same fate as have other reports.

The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) has given an unqualified assurance that no site will be finally decided upon unless and until every objector has been heard. We want to get down to common sense and realism in this matter. The people of New South Wales - and New South Wales means the people of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and to hell with the rest - want Mascot to be the premier airport of Australia. I suppose that most States would like to have the premier airport of Australia within their boundaries. To have an international airport within one's State at the present time means that some people must suffer some distress. But be assured that as night follows day, posterity will judge people who hunt an international airport away from their area as having no foresight and no respect for the future. Technology will overcome - in fact it is fast overcoming - many of the difficulties to which my colleague, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), referred.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are you in favour of Richmond?

Mr IRWIN - No. But if people hunt the proposed international airport away from their area, in 15 years the population will say that those people lacked foresight. At the present time we have a prototype of things to come in the form of the Hawker Harrier aircraft. Already aircraft engine manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Pratt and Whitney, I think, have spent $60m on experiments aimed at reducing aircraft noise. If this amount of money is continually ploughed into experimentation, aircraft engines will make such a pleasant sound that people at Lakemba Ridge will waft softly to sleep.

We also have to consider the question of decentralisation. If the recommendations in this report are to be accepted, the new airport can be sited in only one area, and that is Somersby. But there is a much better site than Somersby, and that is Warnervale. It has the Pacific Ocean on one side, Tuggerah Lakes on another side and Lake Macquarie on another side. Sydney's second airport should be at Warnervale. As the honourable member for KingsfordSmith said, train services to the area could be improved. Train services are used to transport people from the airports to the main centres of population in Japan and in other countries. Sydney would not be very far away, by rail, from the new airport. If we want to consider people and if we want the problems caused by noise gradually to disappear, then the second airport should be sited at Warnervale.

It would not matter whether we built an international airport in a desert. Within 12 months thousands of people would be living in the area right underneath the flight paths of aircraft. The members of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise went to Adelaide. I guarantee that within half an hour of our arrival 5 jet planes passed over head at not more than 100 feet above the houses. We knocked on the doors of the houses in the area and asked the people whether the jet planes had disturbed them. Referring to aircraft noise, one old chap said: 'If you take it away I would not know what to do; I could not live without it.' But aircraft noise has a psychological effect upon other people. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith is aware of the baker who lived at Lakemba Ridge. He bought his property for $16,000. He was a dough maker. He worked at night and he wanted to sleep in the day, but with the noise of (he aircraft he could not sleep. But the point that must be remembered is that after 8 months he sold his property for $22,000. The people who purchased it were notified of the aircraft noise in the area. Aircraft noise presents very difficult psychological and social problems. Some people can live with it, whilst other people cannot.

This is a chance for the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government to do something about decentralisation, which is a subject that everybody shouts about from the roof tops but do not put very much thought into. As I said before, New South Wales now stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. We should either divide up the rest and make it into 2 States or give it back to the Aboriginals and ask them to try and do something with it. Because of the policies of the State Planning Authority in New South Wales the conglomeration of people in this area is almost terrible to behold. Some people have to travel 60 miles a day to and from work because of the extension of the outer areas of Sydney. These people are simply being brought from one slum area to another. But for the churches in the localities about which I am speaking there would be no amenities whatsoever for these people.

The siting of the next airport raises a number of problems. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) spoke about the delay in arriving at a decision on the sitting of this airport. There have been delays, but it may be to our advantage that there have been delays. I am thinking about the great advancements that have been and will be made in aeronautics. My very good friend, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who has had a lot of flying experience, will know as well as I do of the great improvements that are being made in the construction, design and performance of aircraft. An extra engine is often put on a huge train to carry it over the Blue Mountains. It may be that we will see a corkscrew type of aeroplane taking another aeroplane up into the air and releasing it. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Aircraft designers have indicated that mat is feasible.

The honourable member for Newcastle spoke about the leakage of information in relation to the site of Sydney's recent airport. I think he was unfair in saying what he did because the 'leaks', as he called them, came from the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), who evidently was privy to some confidential information. The unfortunate thing about this matter is that he has assuredly brought many public servants under suspicion because how else could he have obtained this information but from somebody in a high position in one of the Commonwealth departments.

Mr Cohen - What information?

Mr IRWIN - He told us some 8 or 9 months ago where the airport was going to be. He spoke of it as a rumour. The unfortunate thing about this matter is that he has brought under suspicion innocent men who are loyal and true to the oath that they took as public servants.

Richmond can be wiped from the list of possible sites for the next airport. It has never been a possibility. It is too close to the great Blue Mountains. Anybody who has aviation experience knows the great hazard that the Blue Mountains present. It would not be possible to have a runway for aircraft coming in from the direction of the Blue Mountains. The honourable member for North Sydney has had experience in regard to the flying of aircraft in and around the hills of Canberra. He would no doubt verify that these hills pose problems to pilots. When the subject of aviation is discussed he should be listened to because he certainly knows something about it. 1 turn now to the question of the noise caused by jumbo jets, and 707 and 727 aircraft. Many people who live near airports say that they cannot stand the noise caused by the aircraft, but many others will say that it has no effect on them whatsoever. It is a psychological matter. Some people can put up with the noise of aircraft and some people cannot. I do not want to do anything which would, militate against my friendship with the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith but I have to point out that the cost of anything that the Government does at Mascot - I am speaking about the airport itself and not the surrounds - will be considerably more than the cost would be elsewhere but because of Mascot's proximity to the city of Sydney, it would be a sounder proposition economically. Let us consider the Tunning cost of travelling 40 or SO miles to an aerodrome in an outer area and the cost of running passengers to and from Mascot. Any capital expenditure on Mascot would be quickly made up by the added cost of transport from an airport in an outer area to Sydney. The disposition overseas is for large areas of land to be set aside for airports. In one area in Canada 53,000 acres were resumed for this purpose. I think it is time we used more imagination and wisdom in relation to the establishment of another international airport and set aside a huge area of land on which we can build to the benefit of Australia and the aviation industry without restrictions, restraints and constraints.

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