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Tuesday, 28 August 2001
Page: 30452

Mr BAIRD (10:35 PM) —I rise tonight to speak about a development that occurred last evening at the Sutherland Shire Council. You may recall that I spoke recently in this House of the controversy when this particular council decided that they would remove the head of Captain Cook from the logo for the Sutherland Shire and replace it with some dancing dolphins. For my part, I certainly did not want to be known as the member for dancing dolphins; rather, I want to be known as the member for Cook. This is the same council that last night, unfortunately with the leadership of the mayor, put on a little political stunt. The mayoral minute said:

A new design for Kurnell/Towra Point International Airport has been drawn up and published by the International Airport Corporation.

The new design replaces the original Kurnell/Sydney Airport proposal and is published in the September 2001 edition of the Australian Aviation Magazine expected to be on sale to the public in two weeks time.

This ill-conceived but detailed design is attached to this Mayoral Minute. The proposal very clearly includes an international and domestic terminal, multi-storey car park and a bridge to Kingsford Smith Airport that would cut the bay in half.

The mayor says:

I cannot believe that any person, organisation or government would promote or support an airport in and adjacent to Towra Point Nature Reserve with its dominant habitats of saltmarsh and open woodland.

She goes on in the minute that written assurance would be sought from the Prime Minister regarding this issue and that the following points regarding the Kurnell/Towra Point and its future usage should be referred to me as a matter of urgency.

The first thing that is absolutely clear is that the mayor and the staff certainly did not do any research, because the IAC is not the International Airports Corporation but a private company called International Airline Crewing. It is basically an employment agency. IAC provide employment and consultancy services to the aviation industry. They have unsuccessfully lobbied the federal government on the Kurnell airport proposal for around two years now. Most importantly, they are not affiliated with the government, are not advising the government and do not represent its views. The fact that the government has rejected their preferred option has obviously not deterred them from their opinion and they have decided to continue publishing their views. We are unable to prevent them from exercising this right.

With regard to the questions raised in the motion, it is important for me to emphasise that neither Kurnell nor any part of the Kurnell Peninsula are on the agenda as a second international airport or an extension of the existing airport. Federal cabinet considered and rejected this option outright on 13 December last year. The possibility of the issue arising again in the future was also written off, due to the international significance of the Ramsar site for migratory birds. I am unable to answer why IAC have redrawn their original airport design and decided to publish it. I simply refer the question for the mayor direct to the IAC, as they are in the best position to answer that question. I repeat my position that I am totally opposed to putting an airport on the Kurnell Peninsula. I demonstrated my personal opposition to such a proposal last year when I promised to cross the floor of parliament over this issue if ever a proposal was put before this House that an airport be built on the Kurnell Peninsula. I repeat that claim tonight. It is absolutely absurd on any criteria to build an airport at Kurnell. It is absurd on a heritage basis because of the great significance of Kurnell. It is absurd because it is a Ramsar site for migratory birds and it adjoins a national park. It would replace a whole community of 2,500 people. It adjoins the Cronulla peninsula with all the recreational facilities there, and the airlines would fly over Sutherland Shire, which is home to 230,000 people.

So, on any criteria, in terms of the environmental factors or the heritage nature of the site, this does not make sense. It certainly does not make sense on cost grounds. From the time the Kurnell airport option became an issue last year, all levels of government in the shire have worked together to secure the peninsula's future. I continue to work for that future, to ensure that we stop the sandmining on the peninsula, that we stop the Australand development and that we secure the heritage nature of the Kurnell Peninsula for the long-term future. There are no proposals to build an international or domestic airport at Kurnell. It is only political stuntsmanship that the mayor has entered into on this question. I suggest that she leaves that, and her plans to replace the head of Captain Cook with the dancing dolphins, to another time and gets on with the serious business of managing the Sutherland Shire for the constituents in that area. (Time expired)