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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has moved an amendment to the recommendations of the report of the Public Works Committee. It is true, as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) has pointed out, that the Committee regarded its responsibilities in this matter with the utmost seriousness. Evidence was taken from people from Lara and Little River which are the communities affected by this report. The Parliament should be made aware that the Committee took the trouble to go to the area and undertake inspections at the time when aircraft were engaging in training operations. Subsequently evidence was taken from representatives of the Geelong High School, from the local council, from the local State member of Parliament and from a number of private citizens. There is no ambiguity on my part as to what should happen on this matter. I believe that to some considerable degree we are on the hours of a dilemma. What has happened in this matter is not exceptional or unusual. Far too often we are stuck with commitments. I predict that tomorrow when another report comes down we will find similar attitudes expressed in this place because the Committee concerned will have been operating within the strictures of governmental or Prime Ministerial commitment. However, in the matter we are discussing the fact is that all of us would like to hope that government action was of such a nature that Australia would never be in a position of not being able to accommodate Boeing 747 aircraft. We would like to feel that Australia will get into the jet age and not be disadvantaged in any way.

What do conscientious members of a committee such as the Public Works Committee do in a situation like this? My attitude is that there has been a gross indifference to and betrayal of public interest so far as this matter is concerned. This is simply a perpetuation of the kind of matter about which there was considerable discussion this morning when we debated the report of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. In other words, the problems that we are currently experiencing at major airports all around Australia which are the subject of great concern and anxiety on the part of many communities are now to be transplanted in greater measure than has been the case up to date into communities around Avalon. The report of the Public Works Committee on Avalon Airport indicates sufficiently that members of the Committee are gravely concerned about some matters. The transcript of evidence covers probably 300 or 400 pages. If honourable members read this report they will realise that almost everyone who gave evidence held similar points of view. Mr J. J. Doyle, the State member for the area, in effect said that his electorate was becoming neurotic. He said that many problems were being experienced by the residents of the Little River district due to the noise of low flying aircraft on training flights from Avalon. In his evidence to the Committee Mr Doyle said:

The form of aircraft noise in the case of this township is the roar of the planes' engines actually in flight and the vibration caused by their constant and very low passage overhead. The effects are both general and particular, depending upon the persons concerned and the nature of their work and their age and physical condition. In general, the noise and vibration cause anxiety, irritation and a condition which, for the want of a better term, could be characterised as 'jet jitters'.

This matter is beyond party politics. The gentleman to whom I have referred is a local State member and is not a member of my Party. I think it is important for us to recognise that this matter transcends the boundaries of political affiliation.

I was interested, as we all ought to be, in the views of the local government authority in this area. As one who has come from local government and had experience in this field I could not help but be impressed by the evidence given by Councillor M. W. Haines from the Shire of Corio. He told us' that the Council unanimously opposed the extensions that are the subject of this report. In his evidence Councillor Haines said:

The Council recommends that all training carried out at Avalon should be transferred to a locality away from the urban area because of the nuisance caused to the people who reside in close proximity to the airfield.

Mr Buchanan - It is not in the area.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honourable member wants to argue with the local government authority be can do so, but I believe if anyone is capable of speaking effectively on behalf-

Mr Buchanan - Well read it to me.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 shall seek leave if you so wish, to have the councillor's evidence incorporated in Hansard. If the honourable member wants the evidence in its entirety I will seek this course. Evidence was given along the lines at a public meeting conducted at Lara. Honourable members have heard the point of view of the local State member; they have heard the point of view of the neighbouring Federal member, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) who spoke a short time ago. Doubtless honourable members will hear from the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) in the near future. The councillor, the Shire, the State member, the Federal members and the public at their meeting indicated that they were very concerned. Their meeting discussed the effects of aircraft noise on education in the district, the fact that school lessons came to a complete stop, the fact that health hazards which created neuroses existed, and that adverse effects were caused to television reception, radio reception and the use of telephones. 1 was concerned to learn that the planning authorities seemed to be fairly unmindful of the future effects. An application has been made for the release of a further 160 acres in the Leura area and that the Town and Country Planning Board already has considered this proposal. We are told that already 400 residential lots have been zoned for development. One wonders what the purpose of the West Gate Bridge is. Is it not designed to open that area up for future residential development, well, just what is the purpose of this mammoth expenditure? It is quite clear that, with the increased usage of Avalon - and the effects of the present usage of Avalon are bad enough - the City of Geelong will be affected seriously.

I think that we are in a bit of a difficult situation today. I know that it is the feeling of many members on both sides of the House that the expansion of Avalon constitutes bad and undesirable development. I have a personal problem in the matter because 1 am unable to understand what would happen if this proposal was referred back to the Public Works Committee. This has been foisted upon us through the inadequacy of our Standing Orders. I would have liked to have seen something added to the report of the Committee. That is to say, I would liked to have seen this Parliament expressing a positive view on its own account. As honourable members are aware, we are unable to take such a course under the Standing Orders. All that it is possible to do is to refer the matter back to the Committee. When it is referred again to the Committee, the dilemma that faces us is: What can the Committee do if, in fact, it does not have a reference upon which to formulate a recommendation? That is our problem. Because I feel that we will at least have an expression of the Parliament by sending this reference back to the Committee - even if the Committee says: 'Look, we have no reference upon which lo make a recommendation' - we will have achieved something. We will have had a- clear voice from this Parliament as to the undesirability of this proposed development.

I say in conclusion that the time has come in my view when the departments which are responsible for developmental proposals of this kind should put more into planning and more into consideration of the public interest. Far too often we are confronted with a situation where a project is almost a fait accompli, where it is intended to conduct investigations after the work is undertaken or during the course of its construction. This is not good enough for me. I seek to be co-operative on this Committee, as do my colleagues. But I hope to see much better preparation. I am certainly not obsessed with the idea of sheeting this home to the Department of Civil Aviation. My experience with the officers of this Department is that they are tremendously conscientious and wonderfully informed about their obligations and responsibilities. If there is anyone to take the blame it has to be the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who is sitting at the table, and it has to be this Government which has a long record of indifferance about the planning of airport facilities in Australia. I hope that the amendment is carried because I believe it will represent a landmark in regard to these things in respect of our country's approach to the welfare of people who live or who will live in proximity to large airports.

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