BANKSTOWN REGIONAL AIRLINES PROPOSAL
(Menai) [3.57 p.m.]: I move:
(1) demands the Federal Government abandon its $500 million proposal to transform Bankstown Airport into a major regional air traffic facility;
(2) condemns the Federal Government for its disregard for affected residents in Sydney’s south-west; and
(3) requests that the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning set up a watchdog group comprising State parliamentarians and community group representatives to monitor any further developments.
This motion is indeed urgent. One thing that can be said about the Federal Government is that it is consistent. It is consistent in its disregard for the welfare and opinions of the people of south-west Sydney. My call for the motion to be considered by the House is urgent because the Howard Federal Government cannot be trusted to protect the interests of my electorate or of those around me. Bankstown Airport already has become the fifth busiest airport in the world. In this House on 3 June the honourable member for Wakehurst said:
Bankstown airport is certainly the busiest airport in the Southern Hemisphere.
I am pleased that members opposite agree. Yet a recently released so-called environmental strategy which was published by Bankstown Airport Limited did not even address the issues of flight paths, air safety, and air and noise pollution caused by aircraft in flight, on a technicality. These issues are not controlled by them but are controlled by other legislation administered by Air Services Australia. Too bad for the poor residents who have to put up with it. Consequently, the true noise and pollution effects arising from the airport’s current operations were not even discussed, nor was there a program of works to combat them.
A nearby council’s assessment of this report says that the omission is "a major shortfall for the effectiveness of the strategy and to public acceptance". The council report also notes that one important element missing from the strategy is that of public consultation and information sharing. It concluded that "the authorities should be requested to develop a comprehensive strategy in this regard". Community groups and residents living near Bankstown Airport have struggled to gain information about the obvious expansion of facilities that has occurred already. All inquiries have been met with a flat denial of the obvious.
What is the latest idea? The latest idea is the multimillion dollar proposal to transform Bankstown Airport into a major regional air traffic facility, despite the fact that in September last year this
Parliament released a report from the Standing Committee on State Development regarding the provision and operation of rural and regional air services in New South Wales. Just one year ago the Legislative Council inquiry firmly rejected any proposal to direct country New South Wales air services to Bankstown. That was after listening to the concerns of many people. Honourable members opposite might be interested to know who those people were.
The inquiry listened not only to the residents of south-western Sydney, who were concerned about the impact of the proposal on Bankstown, Liverpool and surrounding areas, but also to the residents of the rest of Sydney, the Lane Cove Airport Action Group, the chair of the Hornsby Residents Aircraft Noise Group - so I expect good support from the Opposition side of the House representing the constituents whose views concur with those of that group - and the chair of the Leichhardt Airport Urban Environment and Research Group. The inquiry listened also to the Country Mayors Association. Councillor Tony McGrane, who was the mayor of Dubbo, is now a member of this House. I emphasise that the Legislative Council inquiry listened to the concerns of city and country residents and regional operators. Its report on the inquiry:
. . . urged the Federal Minister for Transport to guarantee affordable access to Sydney Airport for regional airlines and that regional air services will not be directed to Bankstown Airport.
True to form, however, the Howard Federal Government is not listening to those affected by the proposal and again is implementing its own agenda in disregard of the welfare of south-west Sydney. Its proposal to transform Bankstown Airport into a major regional airport would be disastrous for the residents of south-west Sydney. I repeat: the Howard Federal Government has proved that it cannot be trusted to protect the interests of the residents of my electorate and of south-west Sydney.
This bizarre proposal is reminiscent of the Federal Government’s costly and doomed resurrection of Holsworthy as Sydney’s second international airport. That proposal cost many their businesses, cost many a lot of peace and quiet, and in some cases caused family disruptions. Sixteen months of agony was endured by residents in my area. The Georges River Environmental Alliance spoke about the proposal in a recent media release headed "Bankstown Airport: another ridiculous Federal Government charade". It noted:
Bankstown Airport sits on the banks of the Georges River, and on the dangerous Moorebank-Milperra floodway, which has been described by a Public Works research report as "the most dangerous . . . in the State".
It also stated:
A proper EIS would demonstrate what those familiar with the demographics and geography of south west Sydney already know. More than 500,000 live in the established suburbs that come right up to the border of what can only be described as a landlocked, pocket size site.
Another group that has been leading the charge, a group that has been attempting to get information about the obvious upgrade that has been occurring at Bankstown, is the Bankstown Airport Community and Environment Forum [BACEF]. From memory, it has had about nine or 10 meetings, most of which I have attended. BACEF has been struggling with this issue for about 18 months. In a media release of 6 September Ms Sonya McKay, the convenor of BACEF, pointed out that its most recent meeting on 3 September was attended by nearly 200 people and that the meeting should send:
. . . a loud message to the Government to stop treating the community like fools and guarantee that Bankstown airport will not be further upgraded and that it will not take in regional aircraft.
Ms McKay pointed out:
. . . while Holsworthy was being assessed runways were upgraded by stealth at Bankstown, which allowed for it to be designed to take in regional aircraft such as the Saab 340.
Bankstown Airport already is Sydney’s Second Airport and is being consistently developed in stages to what the Tourism Taskforce has preferred to describe as Sydney Central Airport.
The Tourism Taskforce, as we know, concluded that Bankstown Airport should be upgraded to a regional airport. In doing so, it identified some necessary improvements, one of them being the need for overnight accommodation.
Other necessary upgrades identified by the Tourism Task Force to convert Bankstown to accommodate regional aircraft are runway extensions, new aprons and taxi ways, a new terminal located at the south-west corner of the existing site, and transfer links to Sydney and KSA via different rail and road options. BACEF already has received, according to its media release of 13 September, well over 600 responses from the community in the last couple of weeks, with more arriving every day. They protest against the diversion of regional and commuter aircraft from Sydney to Bankstown, and also protest about the so-called airports environment strategy, which I mentioned before, which currently does not include aircraft noise or pollution that residents currently must deal with.
BACEF spent hours faxing these protests to Bankstown Airport Limited and to the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Apparently, BACEF also intends to send the protests to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Finance and Administration, John Fahey. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
of 14 August, Charles Sturt University, backed by the Tourism Task Force, recently informed the Federal Government that the upgrading of Bankstown would delay, or could delay, the need for Badgerys Creek airport by another 14 years. They pointed out that the value of that delay itself, in real terms, would be worth $1.4 billion in present values. As the report of the Tourism Task Force states in relation to Bankstown and Badgerys Creek:
Bankstown is the more attractive option than the SSA-Badgerys for regional services.
The Tourism Task Force also pointed out that the transfer disadvantage relative to KSA is far less for Bankstown than it is for Badgerys, and further pointed out that the infrastructure required is significantly less, and more certain of provision. The M5 East and Eastern Distributor are already under construction. That reference is at page 26 of the report. Sydney Airport Corporation Limited, the lessees of Sydney Airport, and parent company of Bankstown Airport Limited, has already recommended that such aircraft be diverted from Sydney to Bankstown.
The Tourism Task Force discusses a total compensation claim of up to $500 million at least. Such compensation only relates to general aviation and regional operators. No discussion is given to the compensation of the communities of Bankstown and Liverpool and other affected residents. I would like to point out that, for all the reasons mentioned in the conclusion of last year’s standing committee report - and I do not have time to list them now - this proposal should not proceed. The final words I would like to give to Sonya McKay, the convenor of BACEF. She points out:
It is time that the Council and State government set up a watchdog to not only inquire into past and present problems regarding airport operations, but to also look at the future of Bankstown Airport and allow the community to have a voice.
So far, that is the sort of voice that the Howard Federal Government has not allowed them.
(Upper Hunter - Leader of the National Party) [4.06 p.m.]: The honourable member for Menai is completely confused on this issue. She spent the past 10 minutes advocating the content of the Tourism Task Force report, concluding at the end that in some way she was opposed to it. The fact is that the Tourism Task Force is not representative of anybody as far as the Federal Government is concerned. The Tourism Task Force has no authority whatsoever to be placing anything on any table.
Who is the Tourism Task Force? It is a consultancy group and lobby group under the tutelage of Mr Chris Brown. I do not recall Mr Chris Brown being appointed as Minister for Transport or to any responsible position. The Tourism Task Force proposal will dissipate in the atmosphere; it has no credibility. Chris Brown has no authority whatsoever to be saying that there is $500 million on the table, that Bankstown Airport will be extended, facilities will be built, and that there will be a high-speed rail service, a new freeway access, accommodation, and all sorts of extra things for regional commuters at Bankstown Airport.
One wonders what authority Chris Brown has to even say those things. It is not his money. He is not the Federal Government. He has not been asked by anybody in authority to produce this report and then to advocate it. He and the task force are totally discredited and have no currency whatsoever. To refer to this report in debate on an urgent motion in this Parliament gives the report more credit than it is due. If this $500 million is available, we in country New South Wales have one or two more important plans than the spending of it on Bankstown Airport, that is, in Sydney. If access to Kingsford Smith airport is a heartland issue - and it certainly is as far as the National Party is concerned - then I would raise the following matters.
It is not.
Don’t be absolutely ridiculous. The honourable member for Bathurst asserts that in some way the National Party does not have as a heartland issue access to Kingsford Smith airport. Of course, the National Party does. Access to Kingsford Smith airport is an equity issue. It is the classic Sydney-versus-country issue. People coming from country New South Wales have, as a right of equity, access to Kingsford Smith airport; they have just as much right as anybody else does. No-one will convince me that a country traveller is any less of a traveller than a university student with a backpack coming from overseas.
Country travellers, in all equity, are entitled to access to Kingsford Smith airport. The National Party will do whatever it can to ensure they have that access. Whatever the honourable member for
Menai does will have no bearing on the issue whatsoever. Access to the Sydney central business district is vital to country New South Wales for business, for access to government, and for access to services including medical services. Access to Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is absolutely vital to give equity of access and right of access for the people of country New South Wales.
Time would be lost. There would be extra costs and considerable inconvenience. Many journeys would be abandoned, at a great cost, first, to travellers and, second, to the business and economic development that would otherwise flow to country New South Wales. In addition, the 30 per cent of travellers who make connecting flights would be completely and utterly disadvantaged.
Any thought that there will be $500 million worth of improvements - high-speed rail and a new freeway - without a myriad of environmental impact statements is absurd. One could imagine what would happen in the metropolitan area before any of these proposals ever got started, with all the environmental impact statements and so on. Who knows? There would be 20 to 30 years of debate, and we would get absolutely nowhere. The Tourism Task Force, a mob of day-dreamers, would not have a clue about the planning and implementation processes. It completely lacks the authority to even float these proposals.
I commend the Federal Minister for Transport, John Anderson, and the Federal Coalition for making this matter a heartland issue. John Anderson, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for this issue, has already guaranteed regional airline access during the Olympic Games. If the peak number of aircraft that will pass through Sydney airport during the Olympic Games can be accommodated together with regional airline access, then no question should arise for some decades beyond the Olympic Games. So far as the Coalition is concerned it is a complete furphy.
If we are serious about the ability of Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport to cope with an artificial cap of 80 movements per hour, why does the silly old Tourism Task Force not consider the removal of general aviation, private aviation, charter aviation, helicopter aviation and freight-only aircraft from Sydney airport? It is not necessary for all of that air traffic to use Sydney airport. Nevertheless, they are part of the cap. Until all of that traffic is removed from Sydney airport the New South Wales Coalition will not take seriously any suggestion that regional air passengers should be moved out of Sydney airport.
There is no reason for the air ambulance service to use Sydney airport. Why are all the corporate jets still using Sydney airport? Why does a charter flight to Sydney airport threaten country commuter airline access to Sydney? It should not. Why does helicopter aviation have anything to do with it? Helicopter aviation and freight-only aircraft could be moved to many locations and should have nothing to do with the cap. Many locations are available in the Newcastle or Goulburn areas, at Newnes near Lithgow or even at Canberra and Parkes airports. Parkes has the potential to be an international inland export port. Why are those proposals not on the table? They would cost far less than this misguided notion about developing Bankstown Airport to divert regional passengers away from Sydney airport.
Until those considerations are put on the table and given serious examination, no-one in country New South Wales can take seriously the frivolous suggestion of the Tourism Task Force. This issue is pivotal for country people. The right in equity to access Sydney airport is the line in the sand; it is a heartland issue for country New South Wales. Country people are the current users of the airport, and they make a tremendous contribution to the economy, welfare and wealth of Australia. It is an insult for any Government member to suggest that a serious proposal is on the table, least of all the suggestion from the Tourism Task Force.
The sole purpose of the Tourism Task Force is to represent its few members in a consultancy capacity, those few members predominantly being the large hotels of Sydney. Why would the Tourism Task Force not come up with a suggestion to divert smaller planes and to allow more larger planes, which would be of great benefit to their specific and narrow membership? The conflict of interest is so abundantly obvious that the suggestion of the Tourism Task Force should be completely discredited. To give some meaning to this urgent motion, I propose to move an amendment. I move:
That the motion be amended by leaving out all words after "That" with a view to inserting instead the following words:
"this House condemns the Tourism Task Force for proposing a transformation of Bankstown Airport into a regional air traffic facility and thereby threatening regional airline access to Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport."
If Government members genuinely believe that continuing access for regional airlines to Sydney airport is a vital issue, they should ensure that the motion has definite meaning and thrust for country people. Government members should vote for the amendment. If they vote against the amendment,
their disingenuousness about the urgent motion that has been moved. It is a sham if Government members claim they care about access for country airlines to Sydney airport when their real motivation relates noise pollution and other issues that affect the Sydney area.
They are entitled to debate those issues, but they should have the decency to make those issues the subject of the urgent motion and debate them upfront. If the issue is access for country people to Sydney airport, both the Government and the Opposition should support the amendment, which condemns the Tourism Task Force for its unauthorised report suggesting that Bankstown airport be developed with money that the task force is not authorised to put on the table.
(East Hills) [4.16 p.m.]: The Leader of the National Party has obviously seen the results of the Victorian election. He has also probably read the speech I gave in this House on 9 September, because he has plagiarised the gist of it. Where was he two weeks ago when I made a private member’s statement in which I said just about everything he has just said? I suggest that on Saturday morning he had no idea this was an important issue. After the election result in Victoria he now knows it is now a big issue. It is now a heartland issue for him, but 24 hours ago he would not have heard about the Bankstown Airport issue.
I spoke about the proposal to examine the possibility of upgrading Bankstown Airport, which is in my electorate of East Hills, on 9 September. Since then there has been no further comment by the Federal Government. Indeed, the Mayor of Bankstown, Councillor Ian Stromborg, has written directly to the Prime Minister objecting to the proposal and seeking a meeting. He has been advised to seek a meeting with John Anderson, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, and the boss of the Leader of the National Party.
He is a key proponent of this politically motivated inept proposal. The Tourism Task Force may have come up with it. As the Leader of the National Party said, it may be a group of fanatics with a special interest. But all it has done is pass it on. The Opposition’s Federal colleagues have grabbed it and said they will look at it seriously. The Opposition has nothing to say, and that is why it is condemning the task force. It should be condemning the Federal Leader of the National Party and the Federal Government.
We know that the runways have already been extended at the airport. We also know that local people are being told nothing about these proposals. Various groups have opposed this airport runway extension for years. Because Bankstown Airport management is not subject to freedom of information legislation, so we are told, it has failed to pass on any information about some of the upgrading that is taking place at the airport. The failure to discuss any of these proposals is to be condemned, but the failure to release the plans that the Federal Government is looking at would seem to me to be criminal.
Clearly, the Federal Government should shelve any plan to move regional aircraft to Bankstown. The estimate of $500 million is at best a guesstimate, a ballpark figure. Local councils and the State Government will not spend a cent to assist the project in any way. Members of the National Party claim it is a heartland issue for them, but they only thought about it when the honourable member for Menai gave notice of her urgent motion shortly after 2.15 p.m. This is the first time the Leader of the National Party has been present in the House when I have been speaking. Perhaps the Prime Minister and the Federal Cabinet should examine what happened in Victoria on the weekend. They might understand political impact of ignoring the wishes of local and regional communities. While residents of Sydney’s south-west want relief from the impact of Bankstown Airport - for example, the imposition of a night-time curfew - passengers who use regional airlines will not be advantaged in any way by this proposal.
A passenger who lands at Bankstown is no closer to Sydney’s central business district than one who lands at Sydney airport. The Federal Government’s upgrade of Bankstown Airport will be viewed in the same way as the non-lamented but lamentable Kennett Government, which governed for a few mates and a few blocks of the central business district in Melbourne and ignored and punished regional Victoria. The airlines used by passengers from Dubbo, Armidale, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie will be closed down. The lid will be put on flying to Bankstown - not because of what the Government is doing, but because the Federal colleagues of the National Party have once again sold out to the Liberal Party at the big end of town. They will all hear it because I have a loud voice and they can read what I show them later.
The work that would have to be done to allow the Bankstown proposal to proceed would be
horrendous. Members opposite would do well to remember where their electorates are, especially if they are in Sydney - and there are still a few Liberal electorates on the north shore - because they will all be affected. Those that are not affected by Kingsford Smith airport will be affected by an upgrade of Bankstown Airport. The third part of the motion has my wholehearted support. A watchdog committee must be set up but it would be useless having any members opposite on it.
We have only been able to flush them out after a couple of weeks of raising the Bankstown Airport issue. The Leader of the National Party knows that this issue is a goer. We also know that the Leader of the Opposition, who will only be in that position for a few more days until the honourable member for Pittwater gets his act together, is also against it. But what she says, of course, does not carry any weight at all. The Government is leading the fight against this proposal because the Federal colleagues of the members of the National Party could not care less. They are trying to move regional aircraft to Bankstown. They are not interested in what the members of the National Party in this House think because they know they no longer represent rural and regional people in New South Wales.
(Wagga Wagga) [4.21 p.m]: I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the National Party. The motion demands that the Federal Government abandon its $500 million proposal to transform Bankstown Airport into a major regional air facility. I question the wording of the motion because the proposal to turn Bankstown into a regional airport is not a Federal Government proposal. I challenge the honourable member to prove that it is a Federal Government initiative. It is not written down anywhere; it is an assumption. I have the report of the Tourism Task Force; it was funded by its 150 members. The report says that the proposal was made by those 150 individuals and not by the Federal Government.
The second part of the motion seeks to condemn the Federal Government for its disregard for affected residents of Sydney. How can one condemn the Federal Government when it is not responsible for the proposal? When this issue arose I consulted airline representatives in my electorate. As honourable members know, Wagga Wagga is the home of Kendell Airlines, and the city also has access to Hazelton Airlines. The airlines have written to me and said that they do not want to use Bankstown Airport. All members agree that country people do not want to use Bankstown Airport.
Many dollars have been invested in the infrastructure of the airport, and certainly the State Government has invested money in the tunnel and the transport infrastructure. As country people have contributed to those costs, they want to have access to Sydney airport; they do not want to be shunted off to Bankstown. I repeat: Members should remember that this proposal was never a Federal Government initiative. If members wish me to do so I will table the report.
Order! For the edification of the member for Wagga Wagga he is permitted only to lay the document on the table for the information of other members; he cannot table it. Only Ministers are permitted to table documents.
I take the point. The report is available and I suggest that Government members read it carefully. The task force is chaired by Chris Brown, the son of John Brown, a former Labor Minister.
I am making the point that the initiative came from somewhere but it certainly did not come from the Federal Government. This motion really has been badly researched. I have heard people call the Opposition a four-letter word, which I reject. The motion has been put together very sloppily. If it were factual we could perhaps spend some time discussing it. As I have said, all members agree that country people do not want to be shunted off to Bankstown Airport.
(Bathurst) [4.25 p.m.]: I support the motion. It is true that the current proposal comes from the Tourism Task Force, which represents, as members of the Opposition well know, the big end of town. The report that was commissioned by the Tourism Task Force was undertaken by a very credible group from Charles Sturt University headed by Tom Murphy. Both Tom and the group have a great reputation. They worked in a set way. The job was given to them by the Tourism Task Force. The task force said it wanted to throw regional people out of Kingsford Smith airport to Bankstown, eliminate regional airlines from Kingsford Smith airport so that the jumbos could roll in from overseas and the airlines could maximise their profits. Members of the Government oppose that.
I talk from my experience as a country mayor. Some of the members opposite do not know much about local government. If I go back through the history of this proposal, there is a chance the Leader
of the National party might become educated. Who is leading the charge against this proposal? Country Labor. The first person to criticise the Tourism Task Force was the honourable member for Bathurst on the day the report was released - no doubt those opposite sometimes read the Western Advocate
. I upset some of my colleagues at Charles Sturt University, but they were working within a narrow focus. They were doing what they were paid to do, but members of the Government disagree with the result.
There are two prongs to this argument. As a member of Country Labor I am very strongly in favour of regional airlines having access to Kingsford Smith airport. Forget about Bankstown! Members on this side of the House have constituencies in Sydney. Members of the National Party do not have any representation there and they are losing their heartland in the bush as well. Members of the Government have had to step into the breach, and we have done that in an excellent way. However, it should remembered that people who live in the areas surrounding Bankstown Airport also have a view. Much has been said by members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Wagga Wagga, for whom I have a great regard, about this not being a Federal Government proposal.
Forget about where it came from! We all know it comes from the Tourism Task Force, but with one stroke the Prime Minister could wipe out this proposal. The Federal Government has encouraged it. Some weeks ago Cabinet deliberated on what would happen about Badgerys’s Creek. No-one could make a decision about it, and it was again put in the too-hard basket. John Fahey and his little group obviously collaborated with the Tourism Task Force and came up with the Bankstown proposal. They said a decision in relation to Badgerys Creek was too hard and they could not decide but there was another proposal on the table and they decided to have a look at that.
Members of the National Party should talk to John Anderson and tell him clearly that this proposal is not on. Does he listen to you? He is supposed to be a mate of the Leader of the National Party. The honourable member for Wagga Wagga should get on the phone to John Anderson and tell him to wipe this ridiculous proposal off the books because it will have a terrible impact on regional people.
Andrew Drysdale, the Chief Executive Officer of Hazelton Airlines, met with Country Labor people, the Mayor of Bathurst and others to discuss the report. He categorically said - and once again I refer honourable members to the Western Advocate
, that wonderful newspaper from Bathurst - that if the proposal went ahead for Bankstown it would put under great threat the company’s services to Orange, Parkes and Bathurst.
Bathurst has an excellent airport. The Government is working hard at encouraging people to reinvest in the bush. A regional airline that is unviable sends a bad signal. Members of the Opposition can go on with all the rhetoric they like, but the answer is simple. They should support the motion, ring their mates in the National Party and John Fahey and tell them to wipe this ridiculous motion off the books. Bankstown is not on. If members of the Opposition have any influence, they should use it.
(Menai) [4.30 p.m.], in reply: I feel so much better now. I am told this is not serious; it is just an idea of the Tourism Task Force. I remind the House that the Hon. Bruce Baird, who is now in the Federal Parliament, was head of the Tourism Task Force, which was one of the prime movers behind the Holsworthy airport debacle. Members should not try to tell me that the Federal Government does not listen to the Tourism Task Force.
The important thing about this so-called debate is whether the Federal Government supports the proposal. I refer honourable members opposite to a response to a recent question in the House from the Minister for Local Government, who was asked what the Government’s response was to country Labor’s concerns about the Commonwealth plan for Bankstown airport. The Minister replied that the office of Mr Anderson, the Federal Minister, was quoted in the Bankstown Torch
, as saying, "We’ll have to see how Cabinet deals with the issue." On ABC’s Country Hour
on 19 August Mr Anderson said, "I am not going to talk about what is happening around the Cabinet table." In his response to the question Minister Woods said further:
That is simply not good enough. Mr Anderson must immediately rule out this proposal. I am also concerned about the blind faith of members opposite that the Federal Government will do the right thing for country people.
Minister Woods said further:
A week earlier Mark Vaile [Federal member for Lyne] said, "It needs to be seriously considered." . . . The Federal Government is trying to give the people of rural and regional New South Wales the brush off.
He said also:
Country people not only deserve but are entitled to a guarantee from the Federal Government of access to Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport.
Just as the residents in my electorate deserve some peace and quiet and deserve to know what is going on! That is the reason for this motion. There should be a watchdog to monitor not only what has happened but what will happen with Bankstown airport. We were told again that there was nothing to worry about, that nothing was happening. I refer honourable members opposite to the submissions of Robey Air Pty Ltd to this Parliament’s inquiry last year. In a letter dated 27 July 1998 the Director of Robey Air said:
As both residents of Georges Hall and an operator at Bankstown and Hoxton Park Airports it is acknowledged that after World War II Sydney Airport movements expanded rapidly and pushed light aircraft over to Bankstown Airport. Time has gone on and both airports have further developed along with the population and spread of habitation and associated roads, railways and aircraft use.
We have already seen numerous charter and privately owned aircraft choosing to use Bankstown rather than Sydney Airport in order save slot time problems, time delays and landing fees and it is inevitable that a diversion of the Regional (country) air service operators will take place as Sydney Airport reaches saturation point.
This is very important and I urge members of the Opposition to listen. The letter continued:
Though not fully appreciated by Bankstown residents, Regional aircraft have already been doing this, due to wind and poor weather conditions.
How confident can the people feel that nothing is happening when, as the honourable member for East Hills points out, no information has ever been released about the numerous master plans and discussion papers that have been prepared for this very day when the Government is seriously considering the redirection of regional aircraft to Bankstown airport? All requests are met with the brief explanation, "Sorry, we are not subject to FOI." There is no further explanation, no debate, only a refusal to release it. If the Government has nothing to hide, why will it not release the information? Why could it not share its plans with people?
This House must form a watchdog committee involving local mayors, State parliamentarians and community groups to give the community a voice. I lay on the table for the edification of members opposite a working paper by Sonya McKay, the Convener of the Bankstown Airport Community and Environment Forum Inc. Honourable members opposite seem to think there is no need to worry because there will be an environmental impact statement and so many examinations will go on that nothing will happen for many years. I draw their attention to the facts listed in this document and what we see as we drive past Bankstown airport every day. Expansion has already been undertaken.
The community has not been consulted. So-called environment strategies are being released that do not even deal with the environment people have to live in. I live in the suburb that is probably closest to this airport; it is only one kilometre away. Just last night - supporting the reason for this urgent motion - I was with a group of people who told me that although they are not supposed to be even on the flight path for Bankstown, the aircraft are so close they fear their street will become a runway. Members opposite could not possibly dispute that what the people have to put up with at the moment is not something they should have to put up with, let alone be told that it is not really happening. What is really happening now is only a taste of what they will get if regional aircraft are diverted. If the people of my electorate, country people and regional operators do not want it, why does the Federal Government persist? I commend the motion to the House.
Question - That the words stand - put.
The House divided.
Mr Amery Mr Lynch
Ms Andrews Mr McBride
Mr Aquilina Mr McManus
Mr Ashton Mr Martin
Mrs Beamer Ms Megarrity
Mr Black Mr Nagle
Mr Brown Mr Newell
Ms Burton Ms Nori
Mr Campbell Mr Orkopoulos
Mr Collier Dr Refshauge
Mr Crittenden Mr Scully
Mr Debus Mr W. D. Smith
Mr Face Mr Stewart
Mr Gaudry Mr Tripodi
Mr Greene Mr Watkins
Mrs Grusovin Mr Whelan
Ms Harrison Mr Windsor
Mr Hickey Mr Woods
Mr Hunter Mr Yeadon
Mr Iemma Tellers
Mr Knowles Mr Anderson
Mrs Lo Po’ Mr Thompson
Mr Collins Mr O’Farrell
Mr Debnam Mr D. L. Page
Mr George Mr Piccoli
Mr Glachan Mr Richardson
Mr Hartcher Mr Rozzoli
Mr Hazzard Mr Slack-Smith
Ms Hodgkinson Mr Souris
Mr Humpherson Mr Stoner
Dr Kernohan Mr Tink
Mr Kerr Mr Torbay
Mr McGrane Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Maguire Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Merton Mr Webb
Ms Moore Tellers
Mr Oakeshott Mr Fraser
Mr O’Doherty Mr R. H. L. Smith
Mr Gibson Mr Armstrong
Mr Knight Mr Brogden
Mr Mills Mrs Chikarovski
Mr Moss Ms Seaton
Ms Saliba Mrs Skinner
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
The House divided.
Mr Amery Mr McGrane
Ms Andrews Mr McManus
Mr Aquilina Mr Markham
Mr Ashton Ms Meagher
Mrs Beamer Ms Megarrity
Mr Black Ms Moore
Mr Brown Mr Nagle
Ms Burton Mr Newell
Mr Campbell Ms Nori
Mr Collier Mr Orkopoulos
Mr Crittenden Dr Refshauge
Mr Debus Mr Scully
Mr Face Mr W. D. Smith
Mr Gaudry Mr Stewart
Mr Greene Mr Torbay
Mrs Grusovin Mr Tripodi
Ms Harrison Mr Watkins
Mr Hickey Mr Whelan
Mr Hunter Mr Windsor
Mr Iemma Mr Woods
Mr Knowles Mr Yeadon
Mrs Lo Po’ Tellers
Mr Lynch Mr Anderson
Mr McBride Mr Thompson
Mr Collins Mr D. L. Page
Mr Debnam Mr Piccoli
Mr George Mr Richardson
Mr Glachan Mr Rozzoli
Mr Hartcher Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Hazzard Mr Souris
Ms Hodgkinson Mr Stoner
Mr Humpherson Mr Tink
Dr Kernohan Mr J. H. Turner
Mr Kerr Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Maguire Mr Webb
Mr Oakeshott Tellers
Mr O’Doherty Mr Fraser
Mr O’Farrell Mr R. H. L. Smith
Mr Gibson Mr Armstrong
Mr Knight Mr Brogden
Mr Mills Mrs Chikarovski
Mr Moss Ms Seaton
Ms Saliba Mrs Skinner
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.