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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1349

Mr SPEAKER -Order! If the honourable member is referring to the Prime Minister he should withdraw that remark.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I did not name anyone, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER - But if the honourable member is referring to the Prime Minister he should withdraw that remark.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I did not name anyone, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether 'Billy the Leak' is the Prime Minister in the eyes of some people.

Mr Hughes - Why does the honourable member not have the courage to say who it was?

Mr CHARLES JONES - Yes, I was referring to the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable member will withdraw that remark.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I withdraw it, Mr Speaker. The honourable member wanted it out. Everyone knows who Billy the Leak is.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable member will again withdraw that remark.

Mr CHARLES JONES - ] withdraw it. The report was first requested by the Minister for National Development, who is now seated at the table, when he was Minister for Civil Aviation. We had a great fanfare of trumpets on 14th July 1969 when a committee was appointed to report on the need for a second airport for Sydney. Then we had another statement by the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) when he took office that he would get a report from the Committee very quickly. Finally in September 1970 the Committee's report was presented to the Minister for Civil Aviation who then proceeded to sit on it for the past 12 months.

It is not fair and reasonable to this Parliament for a committee to take almost 2 years to prepare a report and then for the Government to sit on that report for a further 12 months. I hope and trust that the new joint committee which is to be appointed to investigate the recommendations of the present committee will not take a similar length of time because this is a question which requires an urgent and immediate decision.

The Opposition would move at this point for the appointment of a parliamentary select committee to investigate the recommendations and bring down its own recommendations but for the fact that it is afraid that if it did this all it would do would be to delay further the settling of this question and give the Government a further escape. The Opposition has on numerous occasions over recent years moved resolutions in this place calling for the setting up of a committee to investigate this important question. This is a question which should have been resolved by the Government not 3 years ago but early in the 1960s at the time when jets were introduced into regular public transport. From that time, the early 1960s, it was obvious to everyone who had any knowledge of civil aviation that there was a great need for the Department to determine at an . early date just where a second airport was to be located in Sydney. Even parliamentary committees made similar recommendations. For example, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works presented a report to this Parliament on 23rd September 1965 in which it said in recommendation 4:

We recommend that steps be taken to identify, as soon as possible, the site for the development of Sydney's second major airport.

The same Committee at a later stage made a similar recommendation to the Parliament in which it said:

The Committee strongly support the recommendation of the 196S Committee that steps be taken to identify without delay the site for the development of Sydney's second major airport.

That committee in 1968 when considering the whole question of the airport had several things to say about it. It said:

The Committee believe that if the Government intends to provide facilities commensurate with the needs of modern civil aviation, then clearly it has a responsibility to plan with more energy and imagination than has been shown in this instance.

The Committee went on to say that it supported the findings of the Committee in 1965. So in fact any amount of evidence has been available to the Department of Civil Aviation that it had a responsibility to this nation to get on with the job of planning a second airport for Sydney. It is obvious from the Committee's reports that the Government was not interested in an alternative site to Mascot for an airport. It was of the opinion that parallel northsouth runways would meet the requirements of civil aviation today. In fact, if we read those reports we will see the forecast that parallel runways would be completed by 1980 and that this would meet the requirements at Mascot.

However, all the way through these investigations the Government and the Department have failed to take into consideration the problems which jet aircraft today are creating for the people who are unfortunate enough to live under the flight paths. Honourable members who were members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aircraft Noise had the adavantage of receiving evidence from people affected by the noise of these aircraft in the areas in which they lived. The Department must have been aware of that information even before it was given to the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. The Minister for National Development some time ago boasted that his Department was responsible for bringing the problem of aircraft noise to the attention of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and having a committee set up to investigate it. I draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that even at that point the British Government had already realised the problems of aircraft noise and had taken similar steps long before the Minister and this Government took action.

When the Select Committee started to investigate aircraft noise it had in front of it the findings of the British parliamentary inquiry into aircraft noise. The British Parliament has already made its decision before this Government got around to the question of aircraft noise. Everyone was aware of what the demand would be for airport facilities. Everyone must have realised the limitations of Mascot. I quoted some figures once before and I think they are worthy of repetition now. When one looks at the size of airports throughout the world one sees that Sydney Airport has an area of 1,700 acres, Tullamarine has 5,350 acres, Perth has 3,600 acres and, overseas, Chicago's O'Hare Airport has 7,200 acres and New York airport has 4,900 acres. I do not have time to go through all of them hut it must have been obvious to the Government and the Department that there was a problem associated with Mascot. Nevertheless they were sitting on it and doing nothing about it. These are the problems to which the Government has not offered any solution whatever in the statement that has been made belatedly tonight by the Minister. All I hope is that the Government will not take as long bringing down the next report.

In the limited time I have I would like to refer to the reference by the Minister to the question of distance. He said:

In its consideration of locations where a second airport might be established, the Department appreciated the difficulty, in finding suitable places within a reasonable distance of Sydney.

We realised that locating a suitable site within a reasonable distance of Sydney is today one of the major problems that this committee has to face, but if the Government had had the courage, foresight and knowledge to have acted on this subject back in the 1960s, when it was obvious to everyone that there was a need for a second airport and that Mascot was no longer a satisfactory proposition, the Department could have been examining some of the sites which would have been available so that the planning could have been carried out. We know that today we need a funnel for an airport about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide and anything under that funnel will be affected by aircraft flying over it. Therefore, the Government will have a considerable problem in selecting a site within a reasonable distance of Sydney where this requirement can be met. As I said 10 miles by 1 mile is the absolute minimum even taking into consideration the new noise levels that have been agreed to by ICAO but which have not yet been made public. I believe that the noise levels fixed for new aircraft from now on will be much less than that emitted, for example, from the Boeing 707. The Lockheed L1011 and the DC10 will comply with the ICAO requirements, but the Boeing 747 is just outside and certainly the Boeing 707, 727 and the DC9 will not comply with the noise requirements. So in finding a site that is suitable I believe the Committee is in trouble and has problems brought about because of this Government's failure to face the problem 10 years ago instead of waiting until now.

Mr Buchanan - The terrain would have been the same.

Mr CHARLES JONES - The terrain would have been the same; that is perfectly true. But the residential development which has taken place and which is planned by the State Planning Authority in New South Wales for the immediate future would not then have been planned or have taken place. A lot of that area would have been open space on which an airport could have been reasonably planned by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Stale Planning Authority. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) shakes his head but he knows it is true, because we have had a representative of the State Planning Authority before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. It is obvious to me that the Department of Civil Aviation had Towra Point picked out but in order to try to save the former honourable member for St George from electoral defeat, the Gorton Government gave the site away. 1 know that Towra Point was the site. If I had time I would read a letter I have in my possession from Pat Hills about it. The fact is that the Government has not been practical and realistic in the manner in which it has gone about this matter. The Government has a problem in front of it in establishing a second airport which will be within a reasonable distance of Sydney.

What I want to know in the few minutes remaining to me is what the Government is going to do in the next 10 years. If the proposed committee were to make a decision tonight it would still be 10 years before the new airport would be operational. Knowing the way this Government's committees operate it will probably be another 3 years before we get a final decision from the Government. 1 would like the Minister tonight to say that the committee will present its report by 30th June next year. Then we could really start to get somewhere. There is no reason, with the evidence that the Government has already received and is available to it, why a decision could not be made no later than 30th June next. I want to know what the Government is going to do about Mascot in the next 10 years. Is it going to proceed with parallel runways? ls it going to lift the curfew? Is it going to continue to create the noise nuisances which it is creating at the present time? Every holiday period such as Easter or Christmas there are numerous extra flights into Sydney. There are an extra 20, 30 or even more in some cases. J have not time to quote the facts but at these holiday times permission is granted for aircraft to land at all hours of the night at Sydney. We want to know the facts. What is the Government going to do about it? What factual information has it got about STOL and VTOL aircraft? Are they a practical proposition or is the Government only stalling until after the next election so that then it will not have to make a decision about where a new airport is to be located or whether it will retain Mascot only. The Australian Labor Party assures the people that it will make an early decision about where the airport is to be located and will bring relief to the people around Sydney.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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