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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 553

Mr FALCONER (Casey) - In the time available to me this evening I want to make a plea to the Government that facilities available at Melbourne airport be used to a greater extent than they are at present. There is growing concern in Victoria about the underutilisation of Melbourne airport compared to a number of other airports in Australia. There is a great deal of controversy in New South Wales about the possible sites for a future $500m-plus airport. From time to time members who represent other capital cities quite rightly make speeches in which they advocate better airport facilities for their capital cities. But it is a tragedy that the best airport facilities in Australia at Tullamarine in Melbourne are underutilised.

The Citizens' Committee for Melbourne Airport under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald Walker, a former lord mayor of Melbourne, was recently established to correct the situation. The committee has made the point that in fact almost twice as many international flights pass through Sydney airport as pass through Melbourne airport. This sort of difference cannot be justified in terms of the commercial and tourist realities of Australia. It is of importance not only to Victoria but also to Tasmania and South Australia that greater use be made of Melbourne airport. A booklet put out by the committee points out that a survey conducted by the Australian Tourist Commission indicates that between April and September last year 62 per cent of visitors to Australia used Sydney as their first or last port of call and that only 17 per cent used Melbourne. It is impossible to argue that Sydney has almost four times the drawing power of Melbourne. Moreover, the situation is made even more ridiculous by the fact that there is a curfew on Sydney airport whereas Melbourne airport is a roundtheclock operation. Many of the airlines that are presently scheduling flights through Sydney would in fact be better served if they scheduled them through Melbourne where the restrictions that presently exist at Sydney airport would not be placed on them. The booklet also points out that on 4 June, during the first hour after the lifting of the curfew, Sydney handled seven international arrivals which were all wide-bodied jets. The pressures of customs, immigration, baggage, freight and passenger handling services can be imagined. At Melbourne there would have been no such problem.

MrDEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! It being 1 1 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

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