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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 820

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Smith-Postmaster-General) - I wish to reply briefly to the comments of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who put forward a reasonable case for consideration. As one must always look at the reasonableness of any argument, particularly one which relates to the location of an airport, one cannot overlook the fact that the honourable member was for many years a prominent member of the previous Government. It is therefore rather peculiar that he should come forward at this stage with a suggestion as to a suitable site. That site may be a good one, but it is rather interesting to think that it was never considered at any stage by the previous Government. As professional politicians, we all use our skills during debates in this House to attract attention to what we term a good cause that is in the public interest.

There is no doubt that neither the people of Galston nor the people of any other area want an international airport in their locality, but nobody ever gave any consideration in this respect to the people of the Kingsford-Smith area. In fact, the plan of the Government of which the honourable member for Mackellar was a member was to duplicate the runways at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. It could not care less about the people in that locality. That was the whole issue.

The previous Government set up the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, which heard some rather interesting evidence as to the probable growth in air traffic. It was estimated that between 1970 and 1975 air traffic would double and that it would double again between 1975 and 1980. Evidence was given by air traffic controllers that they could not guarantee the safety of passengers flying within the vicinity of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport because of the lack of air space. What consideration was given to that by the previous supposedly responsible Government? As I said earlier today, all it did was select a site in Melbourne for an airport at which the international traffic would be at the most about one-tenth of that at Sydney.

Did the honourable member for Mackellar act responsibly, as a member of Parliament, in allowing that to happen? What was he doing while he was a member of the Cabinet which was deciding, or failing to decide, those things? What influence does he now exert over the Liberal Party which is in power in Macquarie Street and which has the ability to plan but which has so far failed to make any decision? It decided that an airport would not be built at Towra Point. That decision was made in conjunction with the then Prime Minister and present the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). That is as far as the matter went. It was decided not to put an airport at Towra Point in order to save a seat that was held by the Liberal Party at that time. That was the whole purpose of that decision.

It is somewhat difficult to appreciate that there is any validity in the argument that a particular site now ought to be considered. Perhaps it should but tribute should be paid to the present Government for having made the decision it has made. It cannot be denied that there has to be a second airport in Sydney.

A decision has to be made on the site of that airport. The matter just cannot be allowed to go on as it was allowed to go on previously. The claims of half a million people cannot continually be ignored. People who are entitled to all the amenities of life are having to put up with dreadful noise problems because of the previous Government's failure to make a decision. This noise saturation is occurring on a site that is one of the smallest in the world for an airport. Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport which is about the 30th busiest airport in the world, is situated on a site of about 1,400 acres. The British have already planned for two or three airports and the French have constructed three. America has airports of 15,000 or 20,000 acres, which is what is needed. International airports are usually located in rural areas or non-urban development areas because that is where there is the lowest concentration of people under the flight paths.

Why did the previous Government fail for so long to make a decision? It is the guilty party in this situation. For 23 years it had a chance to do something about the matter but all it did was allocate funds on a parochial basis for the construction of an an airport at Tullamarine - and then it did not build that one properly. The people of Keilor have to suffer because the Government put that airport on only a 4,500 acre site. The Government is prepared to give consideration to any reasonable submission, but it will make a decision that will be in the interests of people and civil aviation, lt cannot be denied that there has to be progress.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 11 o'clock, the House stands adjourned until 11.30 a.m. tomorrow.

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