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Thursday, 22 October 1970

Mr BENNETT (Swan) - I rise to draw attention to some aspects that have been raised by people connected with the aircraft industry. The Second Schedule allows for the reclassification of aircraft to the lower classification where the aircraft engages in operations appropriate to the lower classification. An opportunity is seen here foi the part-time operator, the person who wishes to utilise what is fundamentally a private aircraft at only the peak seasons of charter operation.

The people in the industry fear that this Bill is the commencement of acceptance of this glut, of casual operators to the detriment of operators in the light charter industry, particularly those who have established themselves in smaller country centres where they are dependent for their overall stability upon the seasonal peaks of operation. They fear that it is being made more attractive for other operators to compete for a few weeks only and that this could lead to a situation with which they cannot compete. However, they appreciate that this could act in their favour on many occasions. It is their wish that a close watch be kept on this aspect to ensure that it does not lead to disruption of the industry.

However, let us look at the overall effects on Western Australia of the charges to be applied by this Bill. We who feel that we are more dependent than any other State on air transport by reason of remoteness, have to bear an increase of $9 on the first class fare from Perth to Melbourne, increasing that fare from $108 to $117. Not only do we depend on air travel, but in reaching our eastern neighbours and they us, fares computed on the same standards as apply in other States are a major barrier. One would think that some system of fare concession would be arrived at and that remissions of government charges, such a*s those which will be increased by this Bill, would be made to airlines operating into Perth to encourage them to develop air transport at a more reasonable cost and at a more reasonable hour.

This has not happened. We have suffered constant air freight increases, the last being from 30c per lb to 34c per lb from Perth to Melbourne. These navigation and other charges are passed on to the public by way of fares and costs of commodities. We would not object so strongly if the collected fees were directed to our advantage, that is, to pay for the removal of public nuisance No. 1 in Perth, the Perth Airport which is making a fortune for airline operators by being open at night to allow them to operate their fleets at night. If Perth Airport were not open they would not have anywhere else to go.

One suspects that the figures on projected movements for the next 5 years given to the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) may not be absolutely correct. The growth of air freight and the discovery by airlines that, by the removal of seats from passenger aircraft, the aircraft, can be utilised as night freighters to Perth, no doubt has been one of the major contributing factors to the remarkable increase in night flights to 50 per cent of all nights into Perth. Without doubt all future charter flights for passengers will operate at night when the aircraft would otherwise be redundant. An example of this is the number of national service flights at night which are, of course, Government sponsored. The same is obviously the answer for freighters. The Government must legislate against this and introduce a curfew, for what a golden opportunity night flights are for the airline companies. As freight operations increase with increased air freights, the companies, which cannot operate at night elsewhere, can send their aircraft overnight to Perth providing only the minimum possible daylight flights. If they are to suffer constant increases in charges, such as those imposed by the Government in this Bill, this will encourage them to seek a higher return from their equipment with a higher turnaround and use of aircraft.

The Government could help, if it is not prepared to introduce a night curfew as it has been asked to do by public petition and in this Parliament, by offering to operators concessions in charges based on minimising the number of night nights. It could help by directly introducing a night curfew. In the changing and evolving pattern of aircraft one wonders where it will finish. No matter what charges are imposed, and no matter what is spent on the present airport site in Perth, it is only a matter of time before the senseless siting of the airport where it is in the middle of a growing capital city becomes a major catastrophe. It is already planned to extend the present landing strip. The 7,100 foot north east to south west runway is pointed at the heart of Bayswater and Bassendean and its use will completely destroy the peaceful life of those unfortunate people in its path. No doubt the new navigational aids that are required will result in further charges to the companies and will develop a situation in Perth similar to that described in the 'Doomsday Book' by Gordon Rattray Taylor where continuous aircraft noise will be a permanent part of the urban and suburban environment throughout most of Britain by 1983. That situation will exist in Perth if governments are allowed to continue blithely on the path they are taking. It is imperative that they realise that cities are for people and for living, not for aircraft.

Surely the warnings that the smoke trails of the 3,000 supersonic jet liners planned for the 1990s will result in the Atlantic and much of North America and Europe being permanently under pollution cloud cover is sufficient to stir our planners in the Department of Civil Aviation to bring forward proper planning for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). Why should anyone imagine that the situation in Australia will be different? Now is the time to act before noise pollution, which is now barely tolerable, becomes a nightmare and before Perth becomes like the districts adjacent to London's Heathrow Airport where houses and property are virtually economically unsaleable and where residents remain indoors behind soundproofed walls and windows even on the finest summer days because of the mind-destroying battery of the jets. .In London people living not only near the airport but also 20 miles and more away suffer from noise pollution. Jets waiting to land stack up over the resi dential areas of London and circle until it is their turn to land. This is happening in many cities of the world. Let the lessons of history prevent it happening in Perth. It is past time when fast transport for a comparatively few members of the population should override the intererests of the majority. Compensation must be paid urgently to landowners who are affected. The Commonwealth Government must accept its responsibility for the soundproofing of institutions and homes presently affected. It must realise that the only real solution is the removal of the airport.

It is logical to hope that the revenue derived from the proposed increased charges will be devoted to examining these matters. If the airlines had to pay for the proposed 10-year expansion plan at Perth and if they had to pay compensation for the nuisance they create, we would not be faced with this nuisance. Not only do we have to put up with the pollution they cause but the taxpayers have to subsidise the airlines through the annual Budget allocation from taxation to the Department of Civil Aviation for the support of airports to the extent of a loss of $54m. Yet we in Western Australia get no concessions to alleviate the situation.

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