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Monday, 21 September 1987
Page: 442

Mr JULL(10.31) —Madam Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your re-election to your high office. This is the first opportunity that I have had to do so. Tonight I wish to deal with the front page revelation from the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) about in which direction Australia's economic policy should go. In particular, I wish to refer to his statement regarding the 200 or so projects that he thought were a waste of money, and his specific singling out of the new Brisbane international airport development as one of those projects. I would think that most Queensland members, on whichever side of the House they sit, would be shocked to see that that is Senator Walsh's attitude.

Honourable members would probably be even more shocked when they saw in today's Press that, because of the Government's failure to have this project completed on time, Brisbane will now miss out on international airline flights. The project will not now be opened until February of next year, although the airport was supposed to open in September. We know that the Government was to hand over the whole operation to the Federal airport authority but that did not happen. Consequently, we have the amazing situation that a project that has already blown out to $380m will still not be completed until well into the 1990s.

One thing that concerns all Queensland members is the fact that the Government has refused to recognise the need in Queensland for a new international air terminal. The history of the past 10 years and the Brisbane international airport debate show that it was a government of the coalition persuasion that decided to proceed with that project. Included in the project were plans for the new international terminal and the new runways, because that Government had the foresight to see the tremendous development of tourism in Queensland. The Joint Committee on Public Works brought out a report in the early 1980s which said that, as far as it could see, there would not be the demand for the new international airport facility until well into the 1990s. Consequently, the Government decided to shelve the project for the new international terminal. However, that happened before the tourism boom, especially the one from Japan, and before the decision to have World Expo 88 in Queensland. We have a most ludicrous situation where Brisbane cannot handle international traffic, but in the Budget the Government has not dedicated 1c to providing a new international airline terminal.

Already, British Airways has said that we will suffer. It will not be able to provide additional services because the new facility will not be there on time. It is ridiculous that, during his time the Labor aviation Minister, Mr Charles Jones, saw fit to build an international terminal which, in Mr Jones's own words and decision, was designed as a store shed for the new international airport. Basically, that is what is happening in Brisbane. The international terminal is a store shed, yet next year we look forward to the prospect of Expo 88 attracting in excess of 800,000 international visitors. The last Minister for Aviation would not do this, but I suggest that the new Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Gareth Evans) visit Brisbane terminal on a Thursday afternoon, Friday morning, Saturday morning or almost any day of the week to see the absolute chaos that reigns supreme when in a matter of two hours, about seven international flights are being serviced through the temporary international terminal. The situation is an absolute disaster.

What amazes me even more is that plans for the terminal buildings have been complete for some time, and when an appeal was made to the Minister to let that tender out to private enterprise so that the terminal could be constructed at about half the cost in readiness for Expo 88, the previous Minister for Aviation refused to do it. The big sufferers will be the Australian tourism industry and Australia as a whole because when we have substandard facilities such as that in Brisbane, that in Sydney and even that in Perth, where things are not yet 100 per cent, we do the best that we can to scare off some of those international operators. With the present economic climate in Australia, we need every international tourist we can possibly get into this country to spend money and create jobs. I appeal to the new Minister to make sure that he gets on with the construction of the new international terminal in Brisbane as soon as he can, let it out to private tender and save lots of money.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.