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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 742

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - I want to make a personal explanation on the ground that I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones). The Minister stated that the announcement was made by me that we would not be establishing a second Sydney airport at Towra Point without any proper or technical consideration; that the announcement was made purely on political grounds. He has made similar statements before and I have not bothered to reply to them because I did not think that people would take much notice of him. However, as he is continuing to make similar statements I wish to make a personal explanation.

The first point I want to make is that according to my recollection the paper presented to Cabinet at the time that a site for the second Sydney airport was being considered by the Department indicated that Towra Point was not one of the sites which the Department was considering. The Minister no doubt has access to papers to clarify that position. He can use them as he generally uses papers, even if they should be confidential, in which case I do not want them to be. It is my recollection that on technical grounds we were told that Towra Point was not one of the places being considered.

Had the situation been different, had Towra Point been one of the places being considered and had there been departmental technical reasons for establishing Sydney's second airport at Towra Point I believe we would still not have selected that site because examinations were being conducted into the the possible results of establishing Sydney's second airport in that area. Some of those examinations were made by a Committee appointed by this Parliament comprising members from both sides of the Parliament. The Committee was to investigate the possible effects of aircraft noise on people living in that area. We were concerned. There was a study and it is quite clear that not only were the people in that area being seriously affected at the time by existing aircraft noise but further, had we chosen Towra Point the nuisance would have been multiplied very much indeed.

We are concerned with the quality of life and with not making conditions worse for people. For 'those reasons and on environmental grounds - not for political purposes - I believe we would have come to the same conclusion even had there been technical reasons purely from a civil aviation point of view to support the establishment of an airport at Towra Point. It is perfectly clear that those considerations still obtained when the Minister for Transport either announced or arranged for an announcement to be made in the Press that regardless of environmental considerations he was going to put the new airport at Towra Point, a decision which was changed - although at the time it took no notice at all of environmental considerations - to Galston without any environmental examination whatsoever.

Mr Whitlam - This is not a personal explanation.

Mr GORTON - It is a personal explanation in that I have been accused of making a decision previously on political grounds and I am explaining that there were grounds - environmental grounds - and that they were important grounds. I am pointing out the importance of these grounds. I believe that the House generally would consider that they were important, and therefore it is quite wrong--

Mr Whitlam - I agree with you on it.

Mr GORTON - I am sure the House does.

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