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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 563


Mr COWAN(10.25) —The matter I wish to raise tonight concerns Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. I know that I have spoken on this matter in the House on other occasions in the adjournment debate and by way of questions to the Minister for Aviation (Mr Peter Morris). I am prompted to raise this matter again by the statement which was made last week by Mr John Menadue, the Executive Officer of Qantas Airways Ltd, who warned everybody of the problems relating to Sydney Airport and the fact that the facilities there are not sufficient to meet the demands of tourism in Australia.


Mr White —Absolutely right.


Mr COWAN —I believe, as my colleague says, that Mr Menadue was absolutely correct in what he asserted in the media. He was drawing Australia's attention to this because of the fact, as he explained, that at least two-thirds of international tourists who come to Australia travel through Sydney Airport. We know that in recent years there has been a great number of extra people coming to Australia and that there has not been sufficient planning to enable expansion of the airport to meet the demand. The fact is that there is need for an extra runway at the airport. I understand from reliable advice that it is practicable and possible to be able to put that extra runway in. Therefore, it is important for the future of the tourist industry that aircraft be allowed to fly into the airport, whereas at present there is a certain amount of frustration. People know that there is frustration and try to avoid flying into Sydney. Qantas, and I am sure other major airlines throughout the world, is aware of this factor and may not want to bring its planes into Sydney Airport.

Sydney is recognised as the major city in Australia. This is a fact of life and, as Mr Menadue said, most of the people who come to Australia want to visit Sydney to see that great city of ours. The same argument applies to people visiting England. They want to go to London. It is so important that we bring tourists in to the airport and to electorates such as mine. It is a coastal electorate and a great attraction. On other occasions my main argument in respect of Sydney Airport has related to the problem of delay with intrastate and interstate aircraft arriving there.


Mr Milton —And the problem of noise, too.


Mr COWAN —Yes, that is certainly so. I have especially stressed the point that the other commuter passenger aircraft coming from the towns within New South Wales are consistently stood off the airport, particularly in the busy times throughout the day. In the last week I have been on two aircraft that have been kept out for over a quarter of an hour. That is a tremendous cost to aircraft owners which is reflected in fares.

Many people fly into the Sydney metropolitan area because they have business to do there. I refer to the legal fraternity, accountants, businessmen, or people who wish to visit Sydney to obtain medical advice. They have appointments they wish to keep. However, if they are unable to fly in and to be sure of their arrival times in order to keep those appointments, they decide to travel on the highways which are already cluttered up with vehicles-with the heavy trucks, extra cars and coaches that travel those routes.

It is important to provide the facilities to enable Sydney Airport to develop properly over the years. The tourist industry is important to Australia because of our balance of payments problem, and we must encourage the tourist industry to develop within Australia. I understand that Qantas estimates that by the end of 1988 twice the number of people could be coming to Australia as are coming now. We make about $1.5 billion a year from tourism now, so we could gain $3,000m from tourism within Australia. The new Sydney Airport is many years down the track because of its cost. I appeal to the Minister, who is a reasonable man, to look at the proposition again and to go ahead with the actual construction of the extra runway at the airport.