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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - by leave - As a member of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, which has been meeting for 12 months, I would like to make some comments about the report which has now been tabled. Firstly, I congratulate the Chairman of the Committee. He and I are of different political persuasions, and we do not agree on some of the suggestions made in the report, but I have never seen a man work harder at solving, within the limited terms of reference of the Committee, the problems we had to endeavour to solve. Needless to say we were not able to solve all of them. We had the undoubted assistance of experts in the field. Mr Rose of the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories is an excellent person in every regard and one whose recommendations we should certainly follow. We had the assistance also of Mr Leonard and Mr Gross from the Department of Civil Aviation. They have tried their best to indicate to us the ways in which, perhaps, the noise problem could be quickly eliminated. Last but by no means least we had the assistance of Mr Chapman, who has been a dedicated servant to the Committee. We could not have completed the report without his assistance. I refer also to the work done by my own colleagues, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison). They put a great deal of work into this report.

A consideration of this matter comes back to the question: What was the problem we set out to solve? It became obvious as we got into our work that the only solution to protect unfortunate people from the noise of jet aircraft was the proper use of land. It is regrettable to think that the national Parliament was not able to give to the Committee, which could perhaps have brought forward very reasonable suggestions on the matter, the power to inquire into the suitability of existing airports and to make recommendations about where future airports should be located. Because we did not have that power we virtually were stifled in making a number of recommendations that would have been of great advantage. The Parliament must take the responsibility, because whether the Committee should have that additional power was the subject of a vote here, and the power was denied us.

One of the Committee's recommendations was that we should have a sociological survey of the problems of the people who live under the flight paths. I live in such an area myself, and I am well aware of the problems of these people. In my electorate the number of people affected in this way is some 200,000. They have been where they are throughout their normal lifetime. They have built up a large part of the city of Sydney. The area in which they live consists of excellent residential areas, splendid commercial areas, a university, teaching hospitals, schools, churches and magnificent beaches - alf the excellent facilities of a city which could not be surpassed anywhere. The one exception is the airport, which ocupies an area of a mere 1,500 acres. The 33rd most important airport in the world does not measure up to any international standard. Heathrow Airport in London, which has been subject to so much criticism and which was the subject of a devastating report by the Wilson Committee in 1961. has an area of 2,700 acres. Le Bourget in France, which also has an area of 2,700 acres, has been phased out of existence. It did not have a sufficient land area.

Time and again we come back to this point: The real issue is sufficient land. Certainly the Government made some effort to solve the problems in Victoria by acquiring 4,500 acres for the Tullamarine Airport. That was far too small an area to have acquired. The Government should have acquired at least 9,000 acres, because that is the international standard. The people of Keilor will have to pay the penalty for what might be termed short sightedness from the monetary point of view. I am here to represent the people of KingsfordSmith. It is elementary that the curfew on night flights must be maintained. There should be no flights at night over the residential areas of my electorate or the electorate of St George particularly and also the electorate of Grayndler. It is impossible for people who have borne the brunt of earning their living during' the daylight hours to come home and be' saturated with noise throughout the early hours of the evening.

Mr Bennett - What about Perth? . .

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My colleague asks about Perth. I have indicated that we cannot say anything about a particular airport. I am speaking as the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith; I am not speaking about anything I have learned during my service on the Committee. The Committee has not been able to bring in a minority report, and to that extent I agree with the recommendations of the Committee. We did have some disagreement about what might be the views of the State Planning Authority in New South Wales. This is the sole purpose for my now rising. The State Planning Authority in New South Wales, I believe, has adopted or is about to adopt and implement a noise exposure forecast. This noise exposure forecast is an American invention. It sets out the different levels of noise exposure, which is creditable, and it has annexed to it a schedule which shows the acceptable development in areas under the flight path. If that noise exposure forecast were applied in my electorate, it would be obliterated from the point of view of residential development or use for schools, hospitals and universities. Can anyone imagine in this day and age that an area in which a capital investment has already been made by both Federal and State Governments to build up this community should now be obliterated because aircraft fly over it? Does it not lead to the principle that the airport should be relocated elsewhere?

The only satisfactory way to use Mascot is for the aircraft to fly across Botany Bay. There is no other way by which the people can be prevented from being saturated by noise. The State Planning Authority has adopted this noise exposure forecast, I say. because it feels that the Department of Civil Aviation wanted it adopted. The Department of Civil Aviation encouraged this report to be produced prior to this Committee bringing in its report.The Committee says that the report is a good idea from the point of view of a noise exposure forecast' but that it should be applied with very cautious restraint. In my view it should not be applied in the ' Sydney region. It would prevent development. On page 87 of its report the Committee has said in its wisdom . that State planning authorities have indicated that land use zoning should be put into practice immediately to prevent any intensification of the density of residential development. I do not accept that proposal. I am not decrying the value of the Committee's, work or its recommendations, but I cannot in all honesty say that I represent people, who should not be where they are because aircraft are flying above them. It is not much good my reading, the report of Mr Ashton, the Chairman of the State Planning Authority, who said that the report has not been implemented. He has said that he is waiting on the report of this Committee before he implements it, but I know from the local authorities of both Botany and Randwick that it has been implemented. People who have been entitled until now to redevelop their properties are now being prevented from doing so because of the noise exposure forecast issued by the Department of Civil Aviation.

I give high praise to the Chairman for the suggestion that there should be no more parallel runways at Mascot, nor should there be. I. want the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to take note of that, because if people can demonstrate against noise in France and everywhere else throughout the world they can surely demonstrate in Sydney. They can lie on the tarmac or do many other things in protesting about whether their needs have been adequately considered. They have not been adequately considered. I repeat that Sydney Airport has the most insufficient area of any international airport in the world. It has a mere 1,500 acres. Every other international airport would have 5 or 10 times as much area. Even England, with its small area, is planning another airport of 15,000 acres. It has to be about that area to solve the problem of noise. Ansett Airlines of Australia, for which I have no brief, at least gave evidence that it was a problem not of aircraft noise but of airport noise.

Until such time as we get proper land use we will not solve the problem of noise. So it is mandatory that the responsble people who have the reins of office, particularly the Minister for Civil Aviation, immediately say that there should be a second airport for the metropolis of Sydney. It would have to be located some distance out of the city. That could create some inconvenience. But by international standards it is not considered a great hardship for a passenger to have to travel for 1 hour in getting from his home to the airport. People living in Blacktown have to travel for an hour to get home from work, so there is no problem there.

Mr Irwin - It takes them an hour and a half.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My colleague says it- takes them an hour and a half. He would know, because he travels that distance. I emphasise that had it been given the term of reference the Committee could have been able to say whether any airport in Australia met international standards. The answer would have been no. Tullamarine does not qualify, despite the advantage of having some open areas around it, because it will affect Keilor. It is a pity that we spend millions of dollars of the taxpayers' money on capital investments of this nature which cannot achieve a good result. The world situation is that if a minimum of 10,000 acres can be acquired, and preferably 15,000 acres, for an airport, within the framework of that airport can be developed commercial and living facilities that are ancillary to an airport. In other words if the Commonwealth observed that trend it could make money from developing its own airport city. It could plan the airport in such a way that people could live within the flight paths and not be inundated by noise, because they would not be there basically on a residential, school, university or hospital basis but for commercial purposes. In Germany they are planning for car showrooms, transport facilities and even major motels for passengers within the airport area. Would it not provide a major economic return for any government if it invested in land? The key is the investment in land and we must continue to drive this home to the Government.

In respect of the acute problem of aircraft noise the people of Kingsford-Smith ask for the reduction of flights over the residential areas. The noise' level can be reduced if the flight paths over the Bay are used and if the curfew on night flights is maintained. It is an elementary fact that noise increases at night because of the mere fact of it being night. The plan for parallel runways at Kingsford-Smith airport, announced some years ago by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) when he was Minister for Civil Aviation, should be abandoned immediately because with increased flights the present acute noise from this small area of 1,500 acres will be much worse. It is not fair that the people of Kingsford-Smith should have to subsidise the Commonwealth Government because it has not been able to plan a second airport for Sydney. In 1958 it was able to plan a second airport for Melbourne but it has not been able in 1970 to plan a second airport for Sydney. It is an indictment of the Government's lethargy and its failure to look at the predicament of people in the Sydney area. Why should the people of Kingsford Smith be expected to continue to subsidise the Commonwealth Government's lethargy, delay and failure to plan properly? While we are in Opposition we will continue to encourage the Government to act, but until the Government acts the people in this area will suffer. I hope that we assume government because then, and I say this on behalf of my colleagues, Mascot will not be allowed to continue to expand. There will be a second airport for Sydney and it will be to the economic advantage of the nation and of benefit particularly to the people T represent.

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