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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 1487

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - The Committee will be aware that I have mentioned in this Parliament before that there is very strong and violent opposition to siting the second international airport for the Sydney region at Richmond. In fact, a committee comprising representatives of 6 municipal and shire councils has employed a publicity consultant to make sure that the case against the siting of the airport at Richmond is fully put to the people and fully explained to all responsible organisations. Since 18th March 1970 when I first revealed in this Parliament the strong possibility of this airport being placed at Richmond, I have met a great amount of secrecy, procrastination and misrepresentation on the part of the Government and its departments. As I shall explain in a few minutes, this situation has reached the extent where the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and other members of the Government have deliberately misled the public. It has got to the stage now that no longer do the people who live out in the region trust a word of the Government or any of its representatives.

I will outline to honourable members some examples of the type of thing that has gone on. I have here a copy of the Windsor and Richmond Gazette' which quotes a telegram - I have seen this telegram - which in this instance was sent by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) to the councils which had requested interviews with the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) and the Minister for Civil Aviation. This telegram appeared in the 'Windsor and Richmond Gazette' of 26th August 1970-5 months after I had raised this issue in the Parliament. The telegram which was sent by the honourable member for Mitchell is in these terms:

There is not a chance in the world of civil airport being established in the area. Regret the dis turbance and inconvenience that has been created based on rumour every lying jade and hysteria.

That must have been me--

Regards and best wishes.

Another telegram I have here was sent on 2nd September by Mr Dean, MLA for Hawkesbury. He wired the honourable member for Mitchell in the following terms:

Strongly protest at any suggestion of any part of the Hawkesbury Electorate being used as commercial airport. Leave my people alone. The honourable member for Mitchell replied by means of a telegram as follows:

Regret sincerely the upsurge and commotion caused by false statements by Armitage and others. Not a possible chance of an airport being established in and around over and above anywhere in the area.

That was in September 1970. On 16th November 1970 - a little more than 2 months later - the Minister admitted to a delegation which represented the 5 municipal and shire councils, which was our number at that stage - I was present at the meeting - that Richmond was amongst approximately 40 sites being considered for the airport. Then one year later the Minister released in the Senate the report of the interdepartmental committee which had taken 3 years to prepare. It apparently had a gestation period of 9 months as it was not released until September although it had been promised for early 1971. The report recommended Richmond as one of the 2 alternative sites. So much for the undertakings we are given by this Government. In spite of that extraordinary situation, now the Minister has broken 2 more promises.

In February 1970 he promised the committee of 6 municipal and shire councils when he received a deputation at Windsor that he would let us have the preliminary layout plans and flight paths for the 2 alternative sites in July of this year and that he would make a decision as to where the airport would be sited in January of next year - just after the elections. He has put off making that decision until, he said, some time late last year. In the last fortnight or so he has said: 'I will not keep the promise to give you the preliminary layout plans and flight paths. I cannot do it at this stage.' He has not given any firm date as to when it will be done. In other words, he has procrastinated, he has dodged, he has abdicated his responsibilities as Minister. He has lost the trust of the people. As I said at the battle for Windsor the other night, the Minister should resign. 1 call upon a Minister who has procastinated to this extent to resign his portfolio and give a go to somebody in whom at least the people can have some trust, because they can no longer trust the word of this Government. This is a very important issue. The people are violently opposed to an airport in this region. I know that the Minister is dodging and procastinating in an endeavour to save the political skin of the honourable member for Mitchell. I know that the Government is frightened of losing the electorate of Mitchell, but every time it breaks its promises to the people in the region the only effect is to make the people more determined in their resolve to express their attitude in the months to come.

I have also mentioned in the Parliament on other occasions that a proposition is being studied in the United States by the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration. It has commissioned a 2-phase report on the possibility of establishing an off-shore airport to serve metropolitan New York. The first phase of this 2-phase proposal was to be a preliminary survey to see whether the. proposal was feasible and an economic proposition. I have mentioned this matter in the Parliament previously as well as writing to the Minister and to the Chairman of the CommonwealthState committee. In each instance I was told that they were interested Even though 2 alternative sites had been chosen for the airport, I was told: Yes, we are interested. We will be studying the issue very carefully.' The report on the first phase of this New York proposal indicates that it will be successful. A copy of the report has been sent to me by Mr Charles O. Cary, Director of the Office of International Aviation Affairs. The report shows that it is a feasible proposition. If the United States authorities go ahead with the proposal they intend to site the off-shore airport about 3£ miles south of Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean. They have now commissioned phase 2 to go deeper into the economic feasibility of the proposition. 1 telephoned their United States office and I spoke with Mr Cary on this issue. They are satisfied at this stage that the proposition is feasible. They say that the proposition would fund itself within a period of 25 years.

I do not necessarily say that it would be successful or that it is a suitable proposition for a second airport for Sydney, but I think it should be fully investigated. It is ridiculous to talk about 2 alternative sites when other sites are available and when even this proposition could be fully investigated. I call for a full scale investigation of the feasibility of such a proposition by the Commonwealth-State committee, that is, a full investigation as to whether or not this proposition which is being studied in the United States and which may sound like a Jules Verne dream but is not beyond the bounds of reason in these days of engineering would be feasible for a second airport for Sydney. I have a copy of the report in my hand. If the Minister has not got one I would be only too pleased to let him have one. I hope that when the Assistant Minister replies he will give an undertaking that he will bring this matter before the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) who of course is well tucked away in the security of the Senate, away from the various members in this place, and make sure that this matter is discussed. There is very great opposition to the establishment of an airport out in our region. It would mean excessive airport noise and would produce other dangerous features which would affect the whole region, not just within the Richmond area but for many miles around. The people are violently opposed to its location in this area and will continue to oppose it.

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