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Thursday, 29 October 1970


Mr CHARLES JONES - I thank the Minister and honourable members. In this letter, dated 8th March 1968, addressed to Mr Lee the former honourable member for Lalor, the part I want to emphasise is the last paragraph which reads:

However, we will again bring this problem to the attention of our Senior Training Captains and ask them to do everything within their power to minimise the nuisance of noise. You are aware that we restrict our hours of training to avoid annoying people late at night, and you may be assured that we are endeavouring to co-operate to the utmost with the local residents of your electorate.

I want to emphasise this sentence:

We have pressed the Department of Civil Aviation for another training aerodrome on the Eastern Coast of Australia in a remote area, but until such time as that airfield is built we can only do our best to alleviate this problem within the confines of the restrictions under which we operate.

Assuring you that we will do our best in this regard. Yours sincerely--

That is a letter from Qantas which draws attention to the fact that prior to 8th March 1968 the problems associated with Avalon were brought to the attention of the Department of Civil Aviation. What has been the result of the protests of the people of Little River and Lara and the other people who live around that area about the operations of aircraft? The whole result is that the Department of Civil Aviation is now going to construct facilities to allow pilots of probably the noisiest commercial aircraft operating in the world to be trained at Avalon. I am referring to the Concorde. The proposed development is to provide training facilities for pilots of 747 aircraft and Concorde aircraft - that is, if the 2 aircraft ever become a going proposition.


Mr Buchanan - The Concorde will not fly.


Mr CHARLES JONES - As the honourable member for McMillan well knows, the Concorde is flying now. In England, which is one of the co-builders of the aircraft, serious complaints have already been received from people as to the level of noise from that aircraft.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


Mr CHARLES JONES - Before the suspension of the sitting for luncheon I was discussing my amendment to the motion which was moved for the approval of work on the extension of the runway at Avalon airport. I shall take up my remarks from that point. It has been suggested that there are no suitable sites anywhere on the east coast for the construction of a runway to be used for jet pilot training. I think it is silly to accept such a statement because honourable members who fly between Melbourne and Sydney or Sydney and Adelaide or Melbourne and Adelaide must have observed the areas of open country on which a runway could be laid and the necessary instrument landing system installed. Such a runway could be used for training jet pilots in not only Boeing 747 and Concorde aircraft but also the rest of the commercial jet aircraft, such as the Boeing 727, the DC9. the Fokker Friendship and even the Fellowship F28. The runway could be used to train pilots in all of these aircraft. To my mind it is ridiculous for officers of the Department of Civil Aviation or anyone else to argue that there, is insufficient space available in which to construct a runway.

I consider that there is a serious noise problem at Avalon airport. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, of which I was a member, saw pilots flying Boeing 707 aircraft and indulging in their normal training procedures of taking off with 1 engine out, taking off with 2 engines out, taking off with 1 engine out on 1 wing and taking off with 21 engines out on 1 wing. This created quite a considerable amount of noise. Whilst I admit that the noise level did not compared with that experienced under the flight paths to Mascot airport in Sydney or to any of the large airports in the capital cities, at the same time there was a substantial amount of noise created over the townships of Little River and Lara. Some readings of noise levels which were taken at the time indicate that a Boeing 707 belonging to Qantas Airways Ltd which was carrying out these exercises created an overall sound pressure level of 99 decibels. This is quite a lot of noise, particularly when one realises that there is a substantial number of aircraft movements at Avalon. The number of movements at Essendon airport in 1969-70 was 115,105, and the number of movements at Avalon airport for the same period was 37,230. So even though Avalon airport is located outside the city of Melbourne, at the same time there is a quite considerable number of aircraft movements from the airport. The figures which I have quoted clearly indicate that there is approximately one-third the number of movements at Avalon as there are at Essendon.

One of the responsibilities of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise was to investigate the noise problems associated with major airports throughout Australia. Essendon was a serious noise problem which will be overcome, to a great extent, when the Melbourne airport is transferred from Essendon to Tullamarine. In my opinion, the people near this airport have a serious complaint, and this Parliament should not allow the cause of the complaint to continue. I want to emphasise 1 point which I think is important. Whilst I am advocating the removal of jet pilot training from Avalon airport, I am not - and I emphasise the word 'not' - advocating the closure of this airport because I believe that the runway should be retained for the testing of aircraft which are being built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, the Government Aircraft Factory and the assembly plant which is adjacent to the Avalon airport. I believe that the runway should be retained for the testing of aircraft but not for the training of pilots. When aircraft are being tested they take off and fly at a much higher level. They do not cause the noise problem which would be associated with the training of pilots, particularly in large jets.

Another matter will be raised. It will be stated that if we do not agree to the extension of the runway at Avalon airport, it will hold up the training of pilots in Boeing 747 and Concorde aircraft. I believe that the amount of $6.4m which will be required to extend this runway should be used for the construction of another runway in a remote area which will not cause any noise problems to people. The runway could be designed to suit the prevailing winds in the locality. The flight paths could be designed so that aircraft would not fly over even small townships of 300 or 400 people, as in the case of Lara and Little River. This is something that has to be done in the future. As I said a moment ago, it will be stated that if we do not agree to the extension of the runway at Avalon airport we will be holding up the training of these pilots. But I believe that rather than waste this $6.4m, it would be much cheaper if the pilots were sent overseas and trained in the United States of America or in some other country where training facilities are available. But in the meantime the Government should treat the planning and construction of a new runway in a remote area as a matter of urgency and get on with the job. lt has been said to me: 'You are going to abandon an asset worth some $15m.' 1 am not abandoning it. J. am not prepared to waste any more money on Avalon airport when I think that the runway should be moved elsewhere. Whilst it could be said that at the present time there is not a lot of residential development adjacent to Avalon airport or under the flight paths to the airport, there arc still the people of Lara and Little River to be considered. 1 am very concerned also for the students of the Geelong Grammar School. 1 would hate to think that some future Gorton-type Prime Minister was denied the opportunity of receiving an education at that school.


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - There must have been some disturbance when he was going there.


Mr CHARLES JONES - There was a lot of disturbance, and this is what I want to overcome because the country cannot carry another Prime Minister of that type. In the not too distant future, in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people who are concerned with Avalon airport, with the completion of the West Gate Bridge there will be a quite substantial urban development around and adjacent to Avalon airport. What will happen? There will be a repetition of what happened at Sydney, at West Beach airport in Adelaide and at Essendon. Admittedly the runway will be there, but people will still go to live there.

Unless the Victorian Government is prepared to do something positive at this stage to plan urban development so that residential development is not allowed to take place in the vicinity of Avalon airport, there will be a repetition of what has happened around most of the capital city airports in Australia today.

The opportunity is there. In my opinion, the area around Avalon airport is ideal for urban development. Therefore, that development should be permitted. I consider that this runway is too close to what will be a part of Melbourne in the not too distant future. Therefore, we should be taking steps immediately to transfer die site to a more remote area so that people will not be inconvenienced or subjected to noise nuisance and so that the natural expansion and development of the city of Melbourne will be allowed to take place.







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