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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3006

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aviation. What plans does the Government have in the short or long term for the future of Essendon Airport in Melbourne?

Senator GIETZELT —The future of Essendon Airport, of course, is a matter of considerable importance to the residents in the area and in Melbourne generally. I am led to believe that a study was commissioned by the immediate post-coup Government led by former Prime Minister Fraser back in 1976. He indicated that a study would be carried out about the future of that airport. I think the words he used were that it had a future until about 1985, and he gave that Government' s commitment to review the future use of the airport. This review is currently being carried out for the Commonwealth Government by the Department of Aviation. It is due to be completed by mid-1984. Following completion of that review the Government expects to announce its decision on the future of the airport, that is, to retain or close Essendon Airport by mid-1985.

The Government, however, in addition to continuing the review of that decision and to help it formulate its opinion, has determined that we should look at the likely effects. A committee has been commissioned to look at the future of the airport. To allow the widest possible participation in the review, a public liaison group has been commissioned. That liaison group, chaired by the Department of Aviation, comprises representatives of State and local government, community groups, industry, employee groups and other individuals.

The Government is intent that there should be public participation. This will be achieved through a series of public opinion polls, through a public awareness campaign which includes paid advertisements in the local Press and audio-visual display in local shopping centres and community centres, and information leaflets delivered to approximately 44,000 local inhabitants within five kilometres of the airport. So we are setting out very deliberately to seek the opinions of those who will be affected by any change in the present status of Essendon Airport. Conditional upon that review, the Government will make a decision within the next year or so.