Badgerys Creek Airport
BADGERYS CREEK AIRPORT
The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE: My question is directed to the Minister for Planning, and Minister for Housing. Is he aware of Federal Government plans, if any, to fast-track the second airport at Badgerys Creek? Has the State Government had any discussions with the Federal Government on the timetable for the Badgerys Creek proposal? Would Badgerys Creek solve the problem of the noise pollution being experienced by tens of thousands of Sydney residents living north of the airport?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Bob Carr, is telling the people of New South Wales that one of the reasons that he should be the next Premier is the "marriage with the Federal Government" which would occur under his government. He has been jilted twice in the last week. The Leader of the Opposition's solution to the catastrophic situation caused by his Federal mates is to hold a royal commission into aircraft noise. However, it took Laurie Brereton less than one day to reject that suggestion. The next claim was that the Badgerys Creek airport should be fast-tracked. Having said that, Bob Carr called Badgerys Creek a moderate domestic airport - nobody is quite sure what that means. However, Mr Carr's suggestion has already evinced a rejection from his colleague Mr Brereton. A headline in yesterday's The Australian read, "Brereton refuses to hurry second airport development". Again, the poor old Leader of the Opposition has been jilted at the altar. Another headline read, "Brereton admits his doubts over Badgerys timetable". I am not surprised. Today I want to place on the parliamentary record once and for all the incredible lies and deceit perpetrated for a long time by the Federal Government over the Badgerys Creek airport issue.
The Hon. Franca Arena: You supported the third runway.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Just in case the Hon. Franca Arena becomes too excited, I remind the House -
The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister has the call.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Just so that I put things in the right sequence, I remind the House that on 17 May 1993 I met with Penrith council officers. I indicated in a press release on that day that all State and Federal Labor Party members were absent from that meeting, although I suppose that that would have been expected. I suggested to the Penrith council at that meeting that a seminar be held involving Federal, State and local government politicians and bureaucrats to discuss coordinated planning for Badgerys Creek airport. I followed up that suggestion almost immediately with letters to both the Mayor of Penrith - who is still a Labor Party candidate - and the then Mayor of Liverpool, Mike Latham, who is now a Federal member. I suggested in that letter, at the instigation of my colleague the Chief Secretary, and Minister for Administrative Services, that this planning exercise take place. We recognised that the Federal Government was doing absolutely nothing about planning for Badgerys Creek airport. This State Government has always been a vocal supporter of the Badgerys Creek proposal.
That not being sufficient, it was then decided that the State Government should seek a high-level meeting with the Federal Minister for Transport, Laurie Brereton, and the Federal planning Minister, Brian Howe, after Mr Brereton had made some rather injudicious statements about Badgerys Creek airport. I wrote to the Hon. Laurie Brereton and the Hon. Brian Howe this year. I am still waiting for a response to my letter to Mr Brereton. However, I received a response from Mr Howe, who is a gentleman. As a result of that letter we had a meeting. At the meeting the Minister for Transport, Bruce Baird, and I detailed exactly how much it would cost to build the infrastructure necessary for Badgerys Creek. It totalled more than $600 million for roads, not to mention what it would cost for rail connections.
I also expressed my concerns to Mr Brereton about the inadequacy of the Federal environmental impact statement, which was done in 1985, almost a decade ago, and which has absolutely no relation to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek. How much do honourable members think Brereton and Howe offered the New South Wales Government to fast-track Badgerys Creek? Was it a billion dollars, half a billion dollars, $100 million? It was $200,000, to do some of the studies. That is how committed the Federal Labor Government is to fast-tracking Badgerys Creek! So let us put to rest straight away Bob Carr's claim that Badgerys Creek should be fast-tracked with the spending of $50 million. Fair dinkum, we would not even buy the land for the road corridor for $50 million! It is absolutely laughable. It makes one realise how desperate the State ALP members are, because they know that the ineptitude of their Federal colleagues and their incapacity to deal with a tough issue will take away whatever chance the ALP might have had of winning the State election in March.
People ask: what can the State Government do? The Government has put forward very positive suggestions on what the Federal Government can do to alleviate the situation for the people affected by the Federal Government's ineptitude in relation to the new runway. We will not call it the third runway, because it is the replacement second runway. We have made suggestions as part of a submission made on behalf of the New South Wales Government, coordinated by the Department of Planning, involving the Environment Protection Authority and other government agencies. Our suggestions were ignored. Laurie Brereton did not answer his mail when he was a State Minister and he still does not answer his mail. In the letter to Mr Brereton I said -
The Hon. Ann Symonds: I said to him, and he said to me, and then I said to him.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: The Hon. Ann Symonds lives in the eastern suburbs and does not suffer from airport noise. So she would not know, like most members opposite. I should be interested to know how many members opposite live under the flight path. Not too many. Only two members have put up their hands. Is there any advance on two? Opposition members are looking pretty comfortable.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: Did you hear Meredith say that she thinks the noise is character building?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Oh, the Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann thinks the noise is character building. I will make sure that that goes into Hansard. The Government has been asked what it can do to assist. It does not own the airport nor run the airport. When the Government makes suggestions to the Federal Government it does not take any notice, but I have made a submission on what the Federal Government should be doing to abide by New South Wales EPA noise levels. One of the suggestions is that the Federal Government abide by the noise pollution standards and lower the "acceptable noise standards", as it calls them - and they are not acceptable - from 35 Australian noise exposure forecast level to 25 ANEF for residential purposes and to 20 ANEF for schools, hospitals and child-care centres. The Government has suggested that in order to do that the Federal Government should allocate funds to provide for noise management measures, such as insulation and double glazing, to properties under the 25 ANEF level.
If the Federal Government wants to fast-track anything, it should fast-track the construction of the new control tower at Mascot and the installation of the radar. The Federal Government knew two years ago that the runway would be completed early, but it did nothing to fast-track the necessary appendages to make the runway operate more efficiently. If the Federal Government wants to fast-track Badgerys Creek, it could detail its commitment to a timetable, including proposed major roadworks, railways, et cetera, and allocate funds.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: It could use the $150 million from the Cahill Expressway.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Yes, it could. That would be a start. The Federal Government could clarify the role of Badgerys Creek and its real impact on air traffic volume and noise levels associated with Mascot. It could update the 10-year-old EIS, which I have already spoken about. It could also accept the very much higher and environmentally more responsible New South Wales standards for noise, water and air quality. Rather than put forward airy-fairy suggestions such as those of the Leader of the Opposition in another place about royal commissions and fast-tracking a proposal to which the Federal Government has allocated no money - there is no money in the Federal budget forward estimates for Badgerys Creek, so I suppose the Federal Government will just increase the Federal deficit a bit more, if anyone can persuade it to commit more funds -
The Hon. M. R. Egan: Do you not support fast-tracking Badgerys Creek?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I have just been telling honourable members that I initiated the first discussions between the Federal Government and the State Government on Badgerys Creek. The Federal Government would not talk to us. I will deal with the Leader of the Opposition on another day. He made a speech yesterday on what he would do if he were finance Minister. I laughed so much that I nearly fell out of my chair. It was the funniest thing I have ever read, but I will deal with that on another day. This is the man who is going to slash red tape. While Labor members have been in opposition to a minority government they have built layers of red tape - reels and rolls of red tape - around government. I will save that discussion for another day; today I am talking about the airport. I hope Bob Carr is not suggesting that this Government circumvent the environmental planning process in the construction of Badgerys Creek. Is that what the Leader of the Opposition is saying?
The Hon. M. R. Egan: I did not hear your question.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: That the Government circumvent the environmental planning process to fast-track Badgerys Creek.
The Hon. M. R. Egan: No, I did not say that.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I am glad to hear that. When Laurie Brereton was public works Minister in New South Wales he knew all about circumventing the planning process. Given half a chance, I am sure that honourable members opposite would like to do that again. The propositions put forward are incongruous. The Labor Opposition in New South Wales has implacably opposed tollways. It has said - and I think it is still its policy - that if the Labor Party were in government it would abolish all tolls and pay them back. Can any honourable member tell me what Laurie Brereton announced the other day? He wants to build a tollway from Badgerys Creek airport to link up with the M5 and the M2. What does Bob Carr say about that? Is it part of his fast-tracking plan? It is bizarre that a former Minister in the New South Wales Government who was such an abject and utter failure that he was sacked by a former Premier should be placed in charge of this fiasco. He created more issues than any other Minister to lose Labor the 1988 State election - Darling Harbour, the monorail, and so on.
As I speak, where is the greatest New South Wales Australian Labor Party Right supporter in Cabinet for the construction of the third runway? Honourable members know who that is - the Prime Minister. Where has he been while all this has been going on? While the New South Wales ALP is being flayed left and right, where is Paul Keating? He cannot be seen for dust and small stones because he does not want to be anywhere near this. He is leaving his mate Laurie to carry the can, but he is not carrying the can very well. I can understand why honourable members opposite are shell shocked.
The Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby: On a point of order: honourable members cannot ask questions about legislation before the House. Is it correct for an honourable member to ask a question on a matter that is before a standing committee?
The Hon. D. J. Gay: On the point of order: the question before the standing committee is not about Badgerys Creek. The question asked of the Minister was about Badgerys Creek. The reference to the standing committee is about Mascot airport.
The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order. The issue referred to the standing committee relates to the third runway at Sydney airport.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: I would like Bob Carr to answer a few questions. Does he want the east-west runway reopened? What is a moderate domestic airport? The Leader of the Opposition in another place should know that the current plans for upgrading Badgerys Creek include a runway of only 2,400 metres, yet a 4,000-metre runway is needed for large jumbo jets. Under the Carr plan, which does not have supporters in Canberra, there is no way that large international and domestic jets can land at Badgerys Creek unless a 4,000-metre runway is built. The Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, who, as honourable members know, handles the truth lightly, has twice been rejected by his Federal suitor, the Government that Mr Carr, in his imagination, would like to marry to a hypothetical State Labor Government. Twice he has been rejected. His call for a royal commission has been rejected and his call for fast-tracking Badgerys Creek has been rejected by a Minister who has rejected the State Liberal-National Party Government's call to fast-track Badgerys Creek.
The Hon. Judith Walker: Brereton wants to fast-track Badgerys Creek.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Brereton does not want to fast-track Badgerys Creek. He has not allocated any money towards fast-tracking Badgerys Creek; he has done nothing about cooperating towards fast-tracking Badgerys Creek. It is on the record. I have copies of letters that I have written and letters that he has written. The Hon. Judith Walker knows that it is a red herring because even if Badgerys Creek could be opened and running within three years - which it cannot be - the airport noise will continue for the next three years and beyond. The truth is that the Federal Labor Government's own incompetence has led it into this situation. Why would it open the third runway without a control tower? Why would it open the third runway without radar?
The PRESIDENT: Order! The level of noise is too high.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Why would it ignore its own reports, which recommended the integrated use of not two runways but three runways? Why would it do that? The answer is: to protect itself and its mates.
The Hon. I. M. Macdonald: On a point of order: it is clear that the Minister is blatantly flouting the ruling you gave a few minutes ago. He is concentrating his remarks on Mascot, which is subject to the deliberation of a standing committee and also to a contingent motion of which I gave notice earlier.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: On the point of order: the standing orders do not preclude the asking of a question on a matter that is before a standing committee. Therefore, there is no point of order. Further, I said earlier that the matter that is before the standing committee is not the same as the matter that was the subject of the question. I understand that the standing orders do not preclude a question being asked about a matter that is before a standing committee of this House.
The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: As I was saying, this is all about Brereton protecting his mates because - and it is worth repeating - those members who have benefited directly from the closure of the east-west runway are: Mr Brereton, the Federal member for Kingsford-Smith; his neighbour, Mr Punch; his sister, the Hon. Deirdre Grusovin; the Opposition spokesperson on transport, Brian Langton; the member for Rockdale; and the member for Coogee. No-one was told the extent of the noise, where the flight paths would be or who would be affected by this runway. The real disgrace is in the administration of the Federal bureaucracy and the administration of the Federal Labor Government. It is about time that Paul Keating came out of his box and sacked Laurie Brereton.