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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2058

Senator GIETZELT (New South Wales) Ha s the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation been drawn to statements made by Mr Maitin Smith, a prominent member of the Liberal Party of Australia on the programme 'This Day Tonight' and on subsequent radio programmes claiming that Senator Cotton had stated: 'My mind is made up. As far as I am concerned, Sydney's second airport will be located in the Londonderry-Richmond area'? Does the Minister admit that he granted an interview to Mr Smith who is a journalist on the Nepean 'Herald' and that the newspaper concerned published the Minister's admission? Is he aware that Mr Smith has stated he will resign from the Liberal Party following the Minister's repudiation of the interview, and that he has offered to make available his shorthand notes to prove his contention that the Minister did in fact make such a statement?

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) Thi s is a fascinating exercise in defamation and I want to make some remarks about it. I made no such comment. Mr Smith took no shorthand notes. I did meet him at a social gathering, but only briefly. We have months of work ahead of us yet before a final decision is reached on a second airport for Sydney and scores of factors have to be considered. We have never at any stage indicated that it would be possible to reach a decision before the middle part of next year. The discussions I had with this journalist—the y were quite brief—revolve d around a suggestion he made to me that Penrith was an ideal spot for a sporting complex. I said to him that it was the general view of the Commonwealth and, indeed, that of the relevant Commonwealth-State committee, that a large airport called for a large space around it, and that that space would provide an ideal situation for parks, sporting grounds and public facilities. This is a general view that we have in regard to all new airports. A decision on the new airport will not be my decision, as the honourable senator would well know. We have an expert Commonwealth-State committee working on this. I announced last Friday the appointment of a group of consultants to study the matter in detail and the final decision will be made by the joint Commonwealth- State committee which will recommend to both governments. That ought to answer the honourable senator's question and consequentially, I should say, Mr Smith's question. Naturally I will be seeking to obtain a transcript of what was said on the programme referred to because I may well wish to go somewhat further.

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