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Monday, 9 September 1996
Page: 3091


Senator BOB COLLINS(7.12 p.m.) —The opposition will be strongly opposing this amendment. I must say that we are in the same position as the government on this in terms of the late advice that we have had on it. I believe that Senator Margetts will acknowledge the cooperation we have extended in respect of a whole raft of other amendments that she has moved and which we have supported, but we certainly will be parting company on this one.   The major reason, I might add, is that, should the amendment be carried, it will have the effect of significantly delaying the construction of the much needed airport in the Sydney basin. It has to be built.   I might add that there is also a noise factor associated with this matter and, in respect of the people currently using the existing airport, the sheer capacity problems of the airport are going to be interfered with. It would be irresponsible—I have to say I do not think on this occasion the word is misused—for senators to support this amendment, because there is, as Senator Margetts is well aware as a frequent user of the airport, a noise problem as well in terms of Sydney airport.

The question of capacity also eventually impacts on the question of safety. There is a real safety problem in delaying for any undue length of time any process that would get a second airport built to cater for the needs of Australia. That is what we are talking about: it is a fact that that airport is the major gateway into this country. It is an airport the operations of which interact with every other major airport in this country. It is an Australian national benefit that will come from constructing the second airport: it will not simply be a benefit for the residents of Sydney or, indeed, even for the residents of New South Wales. We are rapidly running out of time in terms of delaying the construction any longer.

Senator Margetts might be in a position to clarify this, but my understanding is that this proposal has, in fact, emanated from people who are concerned about Holsworthy. I do not know if that is correct or not, but the reason I raise that point is to make it absolutely crystal clear that the firm position of the opposition is that Badgerys Creek should be the site of the airport; Sydney West is where the airport should go. With the problems that we know exist, any suggestion that the airport should go to Holsworthy would, in our view, simply have the effect at the end of the day of being ruled out at the end of such an examination. It would potentially again delay the process by which this major undertaking has to be completed—and major undertaking it is. I am indicating that we are strongly opposing this amendment.