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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 747

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think we must make the position clear to the Opposition; the Government will not agree to the suspension of Standing Orders. There is no difficulty about this matter because, as members of the Opposition will be aware, the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) already has advised the House in the course of answering questions that he will table the relevant documents when they are printed and are available. This motion for the suspension of Standing Orders has been moved purely on the rather remote issue that the Minister be given leave to make a statement. I submit that the appropriate thing is for the Minister himself to decide when he will make that statement.

We are well aware of the political contentiousness of the site of a second airport for Sydney. It is somewhat pleasing to see the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) here because he was closely asso ciated with the problems of airports. The former Government was associated with those problems for many years. I represent the electorate in which the present airport is located and it is a damning indictment of the present Opposition that it did nothing to fix the location of a second airport for Sydney. The biggest problem that faces any Government is proper planning. Admittedly this usually comes about through the co-operation of State governments. It is acknowledged and admitted that when the Towra Point site was abandoned there was co-operation between the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins, and Sir Robert Askin because they made a joint statement at the time. That indicated the co-operation that could be obtained to guarantee that there would be no airport at Towra Point. Irrespective of any personal explanations, that decision was a wise one politically because no-one could say to the people of that area that they were going to have so many more aircraft flying overhead and- that they were going to suffer so much more nuisance because of the Government's actions.

In fairness to the right honourable member for Higgins I say that it is a pity that in 1959, when the Government selected a site for a second airport for Melbourne and chose some 4,500 to 5,000 acres at Tullamarine, something was not considered for Sydney at that time. This shows the parochial nature of the then Government. All it could think of was to get an alternative site to Essendon, which was a mere 900 acres and which it knew was unsatisfactory. The then Government acquired some 4,500 acres at Tullamarine for a second airport but did nothing at all about Sydney.. Sydney Airport has a mere 1,400 acres and is now handling more than 2,000 flights a week. Are we talking about suspending Standing Orders on the basis that this subject covers unknown factors? Surely that could not be the case. The present Opposition was in Government for 23 years and knew all the problems associated with airports. It knew the problems it had to overcome in Melbourne and it knew the problems in Sydney. Yet at any stage it would not dare to suggest that a new airport for Sydney should be in an electorate represented by a Liberal. It is completely improper to use the time of the House today to suggest that Standing Orders ought to be suspended to enable the Minister for Civil Aviation to make a statement. The House is in the middle of the

Budget debate and the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards), who moved this motion, has not spoken in that debate. There is plenty of opportunity to discuss all aspects of this matter.

Mr Edwards - What about the Minister?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He may want to speak in that debate. Does that not prove how ridiculous this motion is for the suspension of Standing Orders? The Opposition has moved that Standing Orders be suspended to allow the Minister to make a statement but he may want to make a statement in the course of the Budget debate. It is an unknown situation. We have already said to the Opposition: 'Because you have been in government you are well aware of all the difficulties'. The Minister, as was his right, said in answer to a question: 'I will table the relevant papers when they are printed'. What more could the Opposition ask for at this stage? The Minister controls his department and will table what he said he would table, that is, the report on the environmental impact study. This is the position that the Opposition has to face today. We have a Budget debate, about to take place, being delayed by the tactics of the Opposition, merely because it hopes that somebody listening to this debate will think that it will save Galston. It is not a question of saving Galston; it is a question of what the Opposition failed to do for a number of years.

For the Opposition merely to say now that it wants leave for the Minister to make a statement assumes that it knows nothing about the matter. It is well aware of the situation and is very anxious that the Government expand the existing site. I will fight to the end against this because, for a start, it happens to be within my electorate. However, from the point of view of the merits of the situation, Sir Robert Askin has a quite nice piece of the action, if I may use that word, because before he knew it was to be at Galston he said what a dreadful thing it would be to expand Kingsford-Smith. When he heard it was to be at Galston he asked what was wrong with Kingsford-Smith. As the Opposition is so anxious to have information I inform honourable members opposite that Sir Robert has gone on record as saying that he has a site for a second airport but is not yet prepared to tell anybody where it is. As Opposition members have some connection with the Liberal Party in New South Wales they might find out what he has in mind. I am certain that any responsible government would listen to any reasonable suggestion. But as to the matter that we are discussing now and what should be done about it, it is not fair or reasonable that the Government should put aside all its business because the Opposition wants a statement to be made. The Minister has answered every question asked of him and has given an undertaking to table all the relevant papers. From the Government's point of view that is sufficient.

The Government has had the responsibility of deciding where the second airport will be because the previous Government failed to accept this responsibility. It did something to suit Itself politically in other areas, but it did nothing for Sydney. It let Sydney be destroyed. It is ridiculous for the Opposition to say now that it is anxious to learn something from a statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation, a statement which can obviously be debated ad nauseum but which would achieve no result at all. The Budget debate is to continue and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) is anxious that it should. He said that he has a list of speakers a mile long. I think there are 20 honourable members on his list, but if we are to proceed on the basis suggested that number will be reduced to about ten because there will not be sufficient time for anybody to talk.

Mr Lynch - Is that a threat?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not a threat; it is a reasonable suggestion. I indicate now that the Government wishes to finish the Budget debate at 6 o'clock tomorrow night. The Opposition has been given notice that that is the position. The Government will co-operate with the Opposition, but if the Opposition intends to use the forms of the House as it has done today - it did not mention what it intended to do; it just decided to do it without any discussion at all and then talks about cooperation and about trying to run the House-

Mr Lynch - I told you.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition never mentioned it to me. I ask him what he means by co-operation. We have wasted so much time on this when there are so many important pieces of legislation to be introduced. They have to be introduced this afternoon and the Opposition knows it. The present discussion is eating into that time. It is a question of members of this House having certain rights and privileges and having an opportunity to say what they want to say in the interests of their electorates. This is not a matter for Party political considerations. The Opposition moves for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable a Minister to make a statement. I have never heard the like of it. The proper course is-

Mr Lynch - You have never had a Minister like it.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the tragedy. It is about time we had a Minister like the present Minister for Civil Aviation because now we will get some action. For 23 years we have been waiting for some results of deliberations on a second airport for Sydney. We now have those results and the Opposition is a bit upset about it. But it is not going to take the business of the 'House out of the control of the Government and for that reason the Government will not support the motion.

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