STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS
Report: State Infrastructure Requirements for Sydney West Airport
Mr CRITTENDEN (Wyong) [1.03]: It gives me pleasure to present to the House the first report of the Standing Committee on Public Works since it was reactivated by the Carr Labor Government in May 1995. The Report on State Infrastructure Requirements of Sydney West Airport represents a comprehensive blueprint for urban development in the region surrounding the major new international and freight airport to be built at Badgerys Creek in greater western Sydney. This is the first time that any State government in Australia has properly planned such an important development to maximise economic benefits and minimise environmental impacts. I am confident that the committee's report will be recognised as a major contribution to this process by starting it on the right foot.
The committee faced a demanding task in fulfilling its terms of reference for this report because of the scale of the proposed airport development; the accelerated time frame for its construction by 1999; the need to respond to this time frame with swift and prudent action at a State government level; the responsibility to make contact with a large number of Commonwealth and State government departments, councils and interest groups which had a stake in the airport development; and the desire to give members of the public every opportunity to offer their opinions and ideas.
The committee received a total of 64 submissions, including major submissions from relevant State government departments and western Sydney councils. The committee also heard evidence from 26 witnesses at its public hearings. The resulting report details the committee's extensive recommendations about actions which should be taken to prepare for the smooth opening of Sydney West Airport in 1999. In five months the committee consolidated the dislocated planning taking place in the region into an integrated framework which will ensure that the airport becomes recognised as a valuable asset for western Sydney providing badly needed local jobs.
The committee has drawn into a single document the major issues facing Sydney West Airport. This document will form the basis for the strategic and environmental plans to be completed by the proposed Sydney West Airport Development Corporation - SWDC. The committee has identified what must happen, and it will be up to the
development corporation to see the project through to fruition. The SWDC will ensure that residential development is limited and prudently located to preserve the environment of western Sydney, and avoid exposing residents to aircraft noise. The committee also formulated recommendations which the New South Wales Government will raise with the Commonwealth to minimise aircraft noise. These include tight flight corridors and minimising night take-offs and landings over the densely populated region north east of the airport.
However, the development of Sydney West Airport - SWA - should not be viewed as a problem which needs to be controlled. In fact, it is a golden opportunity to improve infrastructure and the quality of life in western Sydney. The road and rail infrastructure for Sydney West Airport will help to create cross-regional transport systems in western Sydney for the first time, especially along the neglected north-south access between Penrith and Campbelltown. The committee has produced an integrated strategy for the timely development of rail links to SWA. Under this strategy, the first stage would link the airport to the southern line at Glenfield and, later, the rail link would be connected to the main western line near St Marys in the north. The reservation and acquisition of the initial rail corridor to SWA is the first step in this strategy, and this must take place as soon as possible. The goal is an efficient, reliable and reasonably priced public transport network in western Sydney which will reduce car usage and help the environment.
The comprehensive nature of this report and the manner in which it has been expedited is a tribute to the members of the committee. The committee membership encompasses the political spectrum as well as representing the interests of inner Sydney, western Sydney and every part of regional New South Wales. This breadth and depth of political experience enabled the committee to consider the potential impact of the airport on the entire state. Regarding the staff which serviced the committee, I particularly thank Mr Bill Dunbar for his decisive contribution. Joan Simpson did excellent work on the transport aspects of the report, particularly regarding rail and road, and Dr Tanya Sweeney dealt with the planning aspects. Roger Sayers, James Tremaine, and Natasha O'Connor also provided valuable contributions to the production of the report.
As the report was well received and everyone wanted a copy as quickly as possible, the printing of the report became a massive problem for the committee. I thank Paul Guilfoyle, Pat Makin, and particularly Paul Brock of the Parliamentary Printing Services for their excellent work in printing the report. This report will optimise the benefits of Sydney West Airport at Badgerys Creek. It is intended as a document for public distribution and consumption which will provide an important resource to the residents of western Sydney and, indeed, all citizens of New South Wales about what can be expected to happen at this new major international and freight airport and the surrounding region. The combination of more jobs closer to home, better public transport and minimum aircraft noise will ensure that Sydney West Airport enhances the quality of life in western Sydney.
Mr RIXON (Lismore) [1.07]: I am pleased to congratulate the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Works the honourable member for Wyong, other committee members, the committee secretariat and the clerk to the committee on producing an excellent report, with which I am proud to be associated. I view it in a slightly different manner from people living close to Sydney: I receive any number of questions from country people about what will happen at Badgerys Creek, and we now have an excellent reference for anyone who wants to know anything at all about Badgerys Creek and the airport proposal.
The report's 122 recommendations cover almost anything anyone could suggest, and anyone doing any research in relation to Sydney West Airport should firstly refer to this document. I was a little disappointed about one point, namely, that we were unable to obtain one piece of information from the Federal Government about a particular cost-benefit analysis on the third runway at Sydney airport. But all other information is there. I congratulate every member of the committee, particularly the chairman, on a job very well done.
Mrs BEAMER (Badgerys Creek) [1.09]: By and large this report has been very well received by the community. Firstly, I praise the committee, particularly Mr Bill Dunbar, for the excellent job done in working together to produce this report over approximately five months. It was gratifying that upon coming to government we had to come to grips with the need for an airport at Badgerys Creek. We had to plan for the airport which is to be located in the centre of my electorate. I am pleased at the way the report deals with comprehensive land-use management because it is well overdue and it is time we stopped development around a potential airport site. This is a greenfields site and it is about time it is recognised as such. It is time we started using our State powers to ensure that it remains. I am pleased that this committee, for the first time, talks about sound land-use planning surrounding the airport site. One of the committee recommendations called for a prohibition on all new residential developments along the proposed runway alignments for a distance of 10 kilometres. This is an extremely sensible stand for the State Government to take in the airport development.
The committee also went further and referred to proposed rezonings being rejected so that the character around the airport where there are residents will remain as sparsely populated as possible. The report also dealt with noise. The committee members considered that the Australian noise exposure forecast contour lines were
inadequate and asked that maximum noise events be taken into account, as opposed to average noise events. The committee would like the people in that area to get the complete picture of what airport noise will mean to them. The committee is calling for a substantial greater weighting for night flights in response to the Federal Government's plan of having a curfew-free airport. If western Sydney is to have a curfew-free airport then we have to treat the residents of Badgerys Creek and those in the surrounding electorates with respect concerning night flights.
The committee thought it was preposterous that the weighting given to night flights was so low and spoke about a substantially greater weighting. Also, the committee members took into account the rural character of the area and suggested that the noise maps should reflect the topography and climate and their effect on local residents. This is the first document that has had an wholistic approach to the airport development. The committee has not cut the document apart or segmented it but has looked at the airport and gone across portfolios and levels of government to determine how the State Government should deal with this important economic development in western Sydney. I commend the report and state my appreciation to the committee, particularly to the chairman, the honourable member for Wyong. I was happy to be involved in such a good task.
Mr SULLIVAN (Wollongong) [1.13]: The Standing Committee on Public Works report, State Infrastructure Requirements for Sydney West Airport is very thorough and brings credit on the committee members. I compliment the chairman, the honourable member for Wyong. I also compliment the active and constructive way in which my fellow members of the committee participated. I extend my appreciation to the committee secretariat, particularly Bill Dunbar, for the work done. I am restricting my comments to transport issues, especially rail. The committee considered the way in which rail developments should take place, and this is shown in the comprehensive nature of the report. The committee took a long-term view of the transportation of major commodities through that area. I point out that recommendation 29 is that State Rail should continue to evaluate various Sydney West Airport to St Marys-Werrington corridor options.
The benefits of facilitating the movement of coal and other bulk freights, including wheat, between Port Kembla and western Sydney via the Maldon-Dombarton line should be considered. It is important to acknowledge the need to integrate those proposals which, in the case of Maldon-Dombarton, are probably more than half constructed. Of course, nothing has happened there since the previous Government came to power in 1988. The Government is anticipating that that construction will be resurrected. It is good that the committee has taken the view to incorporate that thinking into the overall proposal. The Maldon-Dombarton proposal arises out of a State Government policy that has been on the books for at least 15 years. The policy is that the transportation of bulk goods through residential and urban areas should be by rail. The committee took the view that if that were State government policy the committee should be actively propagating it rather than simply acknowledging it. I compliment the chairman and thank my fellow committee members and the secretariat.
Ms NORI (Port Jackson) [1.16]: This is the first time that I have been on a non-policy committee of this Parliament. I found it a very valuable experience. I join with other honourable members in congratulating the chairman, the staff who serviced the committee, the project officer, Mr Bill Dunbar, and other committee members. I am sure the committee members agree that it was a wonderful experience learning about infrastructure provisions. One does not normally come across such topics. I know that the report has been well received because I represent an area that is flight-path affected. People were looking to the State Government to see what it would do to provide the infrastructure to allow Badgerys Creek to develop, thereby making the development of Badgerys Creek a contributing factor to the alleviation of problems associated with noises emanating from Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
The way in which airport developments have happened in the past - in particular the third runway - can be contrasted with the serious way in which the State Government is taking its responsibilities for the provision of infrastructure and is trying to get it right, right from the start. This report consolidates the dislocated planning for the region into a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable urban development. This is a new development in my view. It is an opportunity to give Sydney the second airport that it badly needs to improve the tourist industry in a way that will help the local environment, not hinder it or make it worse. The committee, quite properly, advocated the development of the Sydney West Airport Development Corporation as a way of ensuring that all the appropriate infrastructure needs are properly coordinated for the various departments. The committee has also, quite properly, come down strongly in favour of the need to ensure that there is a rail link to Badgerys Creek airport. I am pleased to see that in the report.
The committee canvassed a series of options for the payment of the rail link and was quite creative and intelligent in its approach. The committee suggested that the Federal Government should look at increasing the existing Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport levy, but should not apply it to interstate flights. It should be limited to a modest tariff on interstate flights to ensure that country travel is not improperly levied. The committee has suggested the feasibility of a car-parking levy at both airports. The committee looked at value-capture tax and at a number of other
issues. The committee has given the Federal Government a number of options to pay for the expensive but necessary infrastructure for the rail link to Badgerys Creek. I am proud to have been associated with this report. The fact that it has been well received in the community is testimony to the standard reached by the committee and its support staff. I contrast the tack taken by the State Government since being elected a short time ago with the unconstructive approach that the Federal member for Bennelong, the Federal Leader of the Opposition, is taking in trying to solve the airport noise at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
It would be better if he spent more of his time developing the kind of constructive suggestions that this report contains instead of going off at a tangent, as he is at the moment, calling for the reopening of the east-west runway. For him that means reopening what is known as the stub end of the runway. In fact the east-west runway would be reopened in such a way as to liberate a number of additional movements on to the north-south runway and create increasing noise for those residents living north of the airport. I mention that once again so that honourable members in this House, and indeed the people of New South Wales, will be aware of the complex nature of solutions to the problem of aircraft noise; and wary of politicians trying to make policy on the run and producing hopeless solutions that are not solutions at all and will make the situation even worse. It would be far better if everyone stuck to positive and intelligent attempts to find positive and intelligent solutions such as are contained in this document.