I rise to raise an issue of concern to the residents of my electorate, particularly those who live in the suburbs surrounding Bankstown Airport. Bankstown Airport is the busiest airport in Australia and the 26th busiest in the world. Every day there are over 1,000 aircraft movements – that is more than 371,000 a year. This is forecast to increase to 457,000 by 2029. The airport is an important part of Bankstown. It was established in 1940 as a RAAF facility before being turned into a key strategic airbase by the US air force during World War II.
Today the airport employs a lot of people – 6,000 – directly or indirectly. Last week we lost 400 jobs when Boeing decided to close down its operations at Bankstown Airport and relocate to Melbourne. That is bad news for Bankstown and it is terrible news for the workers at Boeing, who come from all over Sydney. The federal government is helping the retrenched workers to find new jobs, and I will do everything I can to create new jobs on the vacated site. The local community wants jobs, and we need more jobs, but not at any price.
The airport master plan is currently up for review. It will determine the operation and development of Bankstown Airport for the next five years. In September the airport owners released a preliminary draft master plan for community consultation. The biggest problem with it is that it proposes the introduction of 32 passenger aircraft services a day, seven days a week, each carrying about 80 passengers. That is a passenger aircraft every 20 minutes for 11 hours a day.
Part and parcel of living near an airport is aircraft noise. For more than 30 years I have lived under the flight path for Bankstown Airport. It is annoying, but you put up with it. The problem with the introduction of passenger aircraft is not just extra noise; it is the impact it would have on the surrounding road network: two and a half thousand passengers a day would clog local roads. That is the view of Bankstown council. It is also the view of local residents.
Late last year Daryl Melham, the member for Banks, and I conducted our own community consultation. We wrote to the residents of Georges Hall, Condell Park and Milperra and the northern parts of Padstow, Revesby and Panania. Ninety-eight per cent of the responses we got back from residents said they were opposed to an increase in passenger aircraft movements. Some residents are concerned about safety and security, others about noise, but by far the biggest concern is the impact it will have on the surrounding road network, particularly on Marion Street and Henry Lawson Drive.
In December the member for Banks and I wrote to the owners of the airport on behalf of local residents, making it clear that we do not support the introduction of passenger aircraft services. We have also written to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. The proposed master plan is now before the minister for transport. I do not know what is in it, but the view of the people of Bankstown is clear: we do not want Bankstown Airport to become Sydney’s second passenger airport. I urge the minister not to let this happen.