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Wednesday, 7 March 2001
Page: 25230

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:42 AM) —The government wishes to thank all honourable members who contributed to this debate. We would like to thank members for their support of the Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Amendment Bill 2001 and it will come as no surprise to the opposition that we reject the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wills. In his contribution, the honourable member for Wills claimed that the government was giving excessive attention to the GST at the expense of other taxation matters. We cannot accept that. The government's tax reform package is the most significant and far-reaching change and improvement to the Australian tax system since Federation. We have delivered $12 billion in personal income tax cuts. We have abolished Labor's wholesale sales tax and so many other taxes. It is the opposition that is in total confusion. They tell us they are going to roll back the GST. They claim to have opposed the GST but now it is ALP policy to keep the GST.

The objective of this amendment bill is to correct an administrative oversight which resulted in Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport not being declared as a leviable airport after 30 June 1996. Nothing excites interest more than any debate with the word `airport' in it, particularly when one listens to the speeches made by various honourable members from Sydney electorates very close to various airports in that city. What I did notice from listening to the speeches was that various ALP members appeared to be in conflict over the question of Sydney airport. The honourable member for Lowe, for instance, complained that there was far too much noise to the north and not enough to the west, whereas the honourable member for Barton complained there was far too much noise to the west and that the north was being unnecessarily spared. The members for Lowe and Watson clearly oppose Bankstown as the second airport and support Badgerys Creek. I suppose one could reasonably ask where the members for Prospect and Werriwa stand in relation to this question of Badgerys Creek. The member for Lowe also mentioned that there was no EIS on the impact of Bankstown as an overflow airport. I want to assure the honourable member that any proposals to upgrade the facilities at Bankstown will be subject to the assessment and consultation requirements of the Airports Act 1996 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Act 1995, the collection act, and the Aircraft Noise Levy Act 1995 put in place a framework for the imposition of a levy to recover the costs of noise amelioration programs at certain leviable airports. In 1995 Sydney airport was declared as leviable for the nine months to 30 June 1996. However, there was no subsequent declaration for the period 1 July 1996 to 21 February this year. Notwithstanding the failure to declare Sydney as a leviable airport, the levy has been determined and collected in accordance with the intent of the legislation. In particular, the requirement of the collection act is that the levy liability for an airport at any given time does not exceed the Commonwealth expenditure on the noise amelioration program. In the case of Sydney airport, the levy raises around $38 million to $40 million per annum and as at 31 January this year had raised a total of $197 million. Meanwhile, expenditure on the program to 31 January this year was $347 million. To date, over 3,300 homes and over 80 public buildings in the vicinity of Sydney airport have been noise insulated. Depending on future expenditure and recovery, it can be expected that the levy will need to continue for another five years.

This bill corrects the oversight by amending the collection act to deem a declaration to have been in place for the period 1 July 1996 to 21 February 2001. In order to validate prospective collections, the Assistant Treasurer on 21 February gazetted Sydney as a leviable airport up to and including 30 June 2006. The amendment imposes no additional regulatory or financial burden upon aircraft operators. Rather, it merely seeks to regularise past dealings between the Commonwealth and the operators. I commend the bill to the House.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.