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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1581


Mr PUNCH(1.35) —On Friday, 8 October 1982, the Sydney Morning Herald described me as `having led much of the resident opposition to Sydney Airport expansion'. I make that statement at the outset to indicate to the House that to me this matter of the expansion or non-expansion of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is a matter of principle-to such an extent that if I should ever have to fight my own party on the issue, I would not hesitate to do so. Let there be no doubt about that. But I am quite confident that that will never arise. Like the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Leo McLeay), I have been involved with this issue for many years, campaigning very heavily against the Opposition's policy in regard to it. I am equally opposed to the Opposition's new policy, little as it differs from the old.

The building of another runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport would be an extremely costly, time delaying exercise that, without an accompanying abandonment of noise abatement procedures, would achieve no capacity increase at all for the airport. I note that this afternoon the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) has said that the curfew at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is too stringent. That, I believe, is at least an honest admission by the honourable member for Murray of what the Opposition's intentions are. The bottom line of its policy, as presented to this House today, would represent a disaster in terms of the living standards of the people on the southern suburbs of Sydney and surrounding areas. That would be so because of the increased aircraft movements and noise over their roofs, the increased damage to their health, the increased cost to their local councils and the destruction of the environment of Botany Bay, Australia's birthplace. Indeed, it is ironic that the Opposition's aviation policy, as stated in the debate today-it would take the form of a bicentennial gift to Australia in 1988 should it be elected to government-would result in the cementing over of Australia's birthplace, Botany Bay. It is also noteworthy that the Opposition's aviation policy, which was leaked before it was announced some months ago, singles out only Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport for special attention. The Opposition has a fixation about that airport, that blinds it to all reality. The Opposition says that in government it would build another runway, but its policy is so confused, so lacking in any study, that it does not even know what sort of runway it wants to build. I ask the honourable member for Murray, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) and all other honourable members opposite: What sort of runway do they want to build? Do they want to build a wide-spaced parallel runway? Do they want to build a close-spaced parallel runway? If they want to build a close-spaced parallel runway, do they want to build one of equal length, a CSP short, or a CSP balanced-as it is termed by the Aviation Department and recommended in the Federal MAN study report?


Mr Lloyd —I rise on a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I call the honourable member for Murray on a point of order.


Mr Lloyd —The Opposition, when in government, will build whichever parallel runway the best technical advice indicates can be built as quickly possible.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.


Mr PUNCH —The point of order by the honourable member for Murray highlights just how ignorant the Opposition is on this issue. It is an admission on the record that it does not even know what sort of runway it wants to build, yet it has the audacity to come in here today and try to inflict that albatross around the neck of the residents of southern Sydney and the rest of Sydney as well. The Opposition does not even know what it wants to build. The other options I might just finish canvassing are Fraser's options, as announced in 1981-


Mr Cowan —Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I call the honourable member for Lyne.


Mr Cowan —I point out that the previous Government had all the plans completed so far as as an extra runway was concerned.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member for Lyne will cease interjecting.


Mr PUNCH —Honourable members opposite are obviously trying to take up my speaking time, Mr Deputy Speaker. They are obviously worried about what I have to say. Is it to be a close-spaced parallel runway east, a close-spaced parallel runway west, one of the short takeoff landing runways or a commuter linked runway? Which one is it? The truth is that the Opposition makes policy announcements without even knowing what the ramifications are. Let us look at the argument as to cost. A close-spaced parallel runway, balanced, for instance, would in today's dollars cost $920m. Let us compare that with the cost of providing a second Sydney airport of international standard at about $1,200m. Let us compare the time spans involved. Both would take in the order of eight to 10 years to build, presuming of course that a second runway could be built in Botany Bay, and the necessary fill found. It has to be pointed out that when in government in 1981 the then Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, said that a second Sydney airport would still be a necessity, the construction of another runway notwithstanding. He said that in April 1981 in a letter to then Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran. So the solution offered by the Opposition is a $2.12 billion solution. On cost grounds it is uneconomic and a gross waste of taxpayers' money.

As to the purpose of the construction, I am at just as great a loss. The basis of the argument of the Liberal and National Parties is that capacity can be increased and noise reduced by takeoffs and landings over Botany Bay being increased. That is an absolute fabrication. In reality, to achieve any increase in capacity the noise abatement measures that now operate at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport must be destroyed. It is very obvious that that is the intent of the Opposition. Indeed this afternoon it has been half admitted. The reality is that the proposal to provide a second runway is really just a cloak for the destruction of the noise abatement procedures at Kingsford-Smith Airport. Without that happening no close-spaced parallel runway will achieve increased capacity. That is a proven fact. The honourable member for Murray has already obviously said so. I invite him to look at exactly what would be involved in the process-as we on this side of the chamber did last year, subsequently rejecting it. Why then does the Opposition put up these furphies? As to why such a runway cannot be operational, as the Opposition insists it can, I say that, quite simply, one cannot have operations where takeoffs and landings are occurring over the same air space simultaneously. That assertion is both logical and common sense. In fact, an objective assessment of the record shows that one cannot have more takeoffs over Botany Bay than occur now mainly because of weather factors. Indeed, it must be noted that at this time of the year the weather is a very limiting factor in regard to takeoffs and landings over Botany Bay. Indeed 85 per cent of existing jet aircraft departures take off over Botany Bay. If we look at the proposal of Mr Fife in 1982 when Minister for Aviation we note that the figures that the Aviation Department gave then to justify the second runway-which would have been a close-spaced parallel runway-actually showed that there would be a lower percentage of departures over Botany Bay than occur at present. That is an admission that the Opposition's policy makes no sense. If not, it is an admission that a second Sydney airport is needed. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. The truth is that the provision of a second runway at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport would result in massive increases in the number of flights west and north of the airport.

I wish to cite certain figures, Mr Deputy Speaker, on the basis of the balanced mode of operation applying. Flyovers of the St George area now number 38,745 a year. Under a close-spaced parallel runway, balanced, they would number 63,940, or an increase of 65 per cent. A similar increase of 65 per cent would occur over the northern approach to the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. For the St George area this means 25,200 additional flights a year-approximately 540 a week or 77 a day. This can be translated to 4.5 additional flights per non- curfew hour, which must mean that in order to make that close-spaced parallel runway-let alone a wide spaced parallel runway-an economic proposition the airport noise abatement procedures must be smashed.

The health costs of this to my constituents are astounding: The Aircraft Flyover and Mortality Report of 1979, commissioned by Rockdale Council and drawn up by the Environmental Impact Studies Group from the Eastern Suburbs, shows that there is a very strong correlation between premature death and populations being subjected to heavy aircraft noise. That finding was, of course, pooh-poohed when the Rockdale Council put out the report. It was equally pooh-poohed three or four years later when I went on the campaign trail with it. But honourable members opposite should now recognise three things: Firstly, the first recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the subject last year pointed this out as the first option.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., in accordance with standing order 109 as amended for this session, the debate on the motion is interrupted.

Motion (by Mr Duffy) agreed to:

That the time for the discussion of Notice No. 1, General Business, be extended until 2 p.m.


Mr PUNCH —That was the first recommendation of the Select Committee's report. Secondly, the National Acoustics Laboratory is now investigating this in detail. Thirdly, the New South Wales State Government is now doing work on the subject. It is a long way from being pooh-poohed as it was a few short years ago by the then Liberal-National Party Government. The ecological cost of this proposal would be the destruction of Botany Bay's hydraulics and its ecosystems, the destruction of Towra Point as a nature reserve unique by world standards and the destruction of valuable sporting and commercial fishing grounds in Botany Bay, our national birthplace. Such a runway would require of course a minimum of 20 million cubic metres of fill. That was the figure given in the MANS committee's report. Indeed, anything up to 45-50 million cubic metres of fill could be required for a wide-spaced parallel runway. There is no known source of such a quantity of fill. Presuming that another source could be found, many costs to local government would result from an endless stream of trucks and other modes of transport passing through their region for eight years, transporting fill from some source as yet unidentified by honourable members opposite.

In reality I believe that a wide spaced parallel runway would evolve under any coalition government. It could not be built on the eastern side of the existing runway because that would clash with the port facilities and be just too dangerous. Therefore I believe that the wide spaced parallel runway that they would build would inevitably end up on the western side of the existing runway. That would result in the complete destruction of the suburb of Kyeemagh in my electorate and it would make most of Brighton, Rockdale and Monterey uninhabitable. The massive costs involved in building over some 15 years a wide spaced parallel runway were, in fact, rejected by the advisers to the former Liberal Party Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, in the early 1980s, but now we find the Opposition conspicuously quiet about something which is an issue in itself. It says that it wants to build another runway; that the curfew is too stringent; that it is affecting tourism. I point out to honourable members opposite that tourism is now growing at a faster rate in Australia than anywhere else in the world. The lack of another runway cannot be doing too much harm if that is the case. But this Government is determined to increase aviation access to this country and is doing so in a logical and proper manner that does not involve smashing the living standards of ordinary Australians, such as those in my constituency.

Qantas Airways Ltd, as it has to be said at the outset, has no proposal on the board for the provision of another air terminal. If Qantas put one up that was halfway decent I would support it. It must also be pointed out that the $23m expansion program for the existing terminal will increase capacity by 80 per cent. The proposed expansions will be finished by mid-1989. There will be a minimum of 20 additional Customs staff to increase the flow of tourists and move them through as quickly as possible, as well as improved management procedures. All of these improvements, including terminal expansion, honourable members opposite had seven years to carry out but failed to do so. Now they come into this chamber and claim that the Government is endangering our tourist industry. That is said although no objective facts are produced to back it up. For seven years the former Government did nothing about this matter. The Labor Party is doing something about improving Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in a logical manner that, as I said previously, does not involve forcing our constituents to live in a noise-polluted slum. I refer to the constituents of Barton and to those of the honourable member for Grayndler, the honourable member for St George (Mr Dubois), the honourable member for Banks (Mr Mountford), the honourable member for Phillip (Ms McHugh), the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Baldwin), the honourable member for Lowe (Mr Maher) and perhaps other honourable members. The Opposition, when in government, never had the courage to make a decision on this subject. The Opposition's policy is one that is completely without foundation on economic, noise grounds or capacity grounds. It is a proposition that, taken with the new admission today by the honourable member for Murray about the curfew, asks my constituents and 1.1 million people in Sydney to shoulder the burden for what the Opposition failed to do for so many years while in government. That is simply not on. It is a matter of principle with me and my colleagues and we will fight it to the last breath.