Sydney Airport Demand Management Amendment Bill 2008: Second Reading

They create extra traffic and extra noise, which is why this bill and the act that it amends are so important. This bill comes out of a review by the Audit Office. The report found that elements of the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act are unclear and do not operate efficiently or in the way they were intended to operate.

The legislation currently before the House reflects the government’s commitment to addressing the findings of the Audit Office report. It makes a number of changes to the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act to address technical issues identified by the Audit Office review. The bill does not change the 80 aircraft movements per hour cap or the curfew regime. These are the cornerstone principles of the act. It removes technical inconsistencies in key terminology, to improve the administration of the cap and the Slot Management Scheme. The bill will strengthen the enforcement of the existing cap and curfew provisions and will empower Airservices Australia to better monitor these provisions. The primary mechanism for achieving these ends is a change in the definition of aircraft movement. Currently, the act defines ‘aircraft movement’ as ‘the movement of an aircraft on and off runways’. However, the Slot Management Scheme and the compliance scheme define ‘aircraft movement’ as ‘the movement of an aircraft from or towards a gate’.

This bill reconciles these competing definitions by replacing the term ‘aircraft movements’ with the more precise phrase ‘gate movement’. The bill also empowers the slot manager to allocate arrival and departure slots consistent with the movement cap. The amendments also make the definition of a slot consistent with the worldwide application of a slot as the scheduled arrival or departure time. In effect, the amendments will subject more movements to the compliance regime than are currently being captured by the act.

This bill highlights the complexities of developing and operating infrastructure facilities like airports in large and congested metropolises. We need to invest in infrastructure, in projects, that meet the needs of today and tomorrow, but we also have to balance this against the needs of those who live near big infrastructure projects. The quality of life of residents who live beside major airports, freight lines, intermodal terminals and other infrastructure cannot be ignored. Sometimes it means curfews; other times it means noise amelioration. It might mean that some projects do not proceed or that they proceed somewhere else.

My electorate is a good example. Blaxland plays an important role in making Sydney work. The northern border is the water pipeline that delivers Sydney’s water from Prospect Reservoir to Potts Hill. The eastern border is the Enfield goods yard, which is currently being developed as an intermodal terminal capable of handling up to 300,000 TEUs a year, and the southern border is Bankstown Airport, the busiest airport in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 350,000 movements a year, more than 1,000 movements a day-and I will have a little more to say about Bankstown Airport in a moment.

Running right through the middle of the electorate is the proposed southern Sydney freight line, an important project that will increase the amount of freight that is moved in Sydney by rail but one that comes at a price: it will have a big effect on the quality of life of residents in my electorate who live along the line and it will also divide the town of Cabramatta. Our responsibility is to minimise the impact that this project will have on the local community. This means noise walls for residents where none are currently proposed, it means trees in front of noise walls so that they do not become graffiti targets-because you cannot graffiti trees-and it means a compensation fund for the town of Cabramatta.

Cabramatta is a resilient little town. It has been through a lot. We have an obligation to minimise the impact that this freight line will have on the town. That is why I have asked the government to provide funds for additional car parking. Cabramatta desperately needs more parking and has done for years, and this is something positive that this infrastructure project can bring to Cabramatta. That is why, a couple of weeks ago, I led a delegation to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts on behalf of Fairfield City Council and the Cabramatta Chamber of Commerce to discuss these issues.

The clash between the needs of the economy and local residents is one of the important issues canvassed in the issues paper that was released by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government last month entitled ‘Towards a national aviation policy statement’. It is the first step in developing the first ever aviation white paper. As the issues paper points out:

A key challenge at major airports is to integrate planning for the development of the airport site with consideration of the impacts outside the airport.

This is what we have not done well, at least not in Sydney. One of the great infrastructure challenges in Sydney is managing the growth of the airport and Port Botany. They are together a very important economic precinct. Together they contribute billions of dollars to our economy.

In the next decade, both will expand dramatically. The airport alone contributes around $13.6 billion in economic activity each year. That is about two per cent of the entire Australian economy. Passenger movements are expected to increase from 32 million today to 68 million in 2023. The port handles $50 billion worth of trade every year and employs 17,000 people. In the next 10 years, it is expected to double the number of containers it moves, from currently 1.8 million to more than three million TEUs, bringing with it an estimated $16 billion in additional revenue. Making Sydney work means making this important precinct work. It is our economic gateway to the world. So it is critical that surrounding and connecting infrastructure can support this growth.

The southern Sydney freight line that I mentioned a moment ago, supported by a constellation of intermodal terminals, is part of this solution. We also need to increase the capacity of the surrounding road network. In my second speech in this place, I spoke about the need to duplicate the M5 East tunnel, a tunnel that connects the airport, Port Botany and Western Sydney. It is very congested. A lot of people in Sydney-a lot of people from my electorate-sit in traffic on the M5 motorway and in the M5 East tunnel every day commuting to and from work. So I am very glad to see that the duplication of the M5 East tunnel is one of the top priority infrastructure projects that have been fast-tracked by the budget. It is an example of the difference that a federal Labor government makes. Duplicating the M5 East will make the port and the airport work more efficiently. It is also good news for my community. It will make Bankstown a more attractive place to live and to invest in. It is the sort of project that the Howard government should have delivered or helped deliver using the $6 billion that they received when they sold Sydney airport, but they did not.

Another example in my electorate is Bankstown Airport, sold in 2003. Together with Camden and Hoxton Park airports, the government raked in $211 million. Again, nothing was reinvested in the local community. In both cases, the federal government approved master plans for the development and expansion of these important precincts but nothing was spent on the infrastructure needed to support the development of these important precincts. The government were happy to take the money and approve the development plans but they did not spend a cent to make them work. I think that is, by any measure, irresponsible.

Bankstown Airport is the main general aviation airport for the Sydney region. As I mentioned earlier, it is one of the busiest airports in the world. The threat of more movements and in particular large passenger aircraft is one that is not welcomed by my local community. But the master plan, approved by the former government, allows it to occur. All it requires is the lengthening and the strengthening of the runway. But, because this work would cost more than $20 million, under the master plan it constitutes a major development and therefore requires federal government approval. So my local community was pretty relieved and extremely grateful when the minister for infrastructure ruled out any expansion of the airport only a few weeks ago. He recognised that Bankstown Airport is not a suitable site for expansion, located as it is in a densely populated suburb. It is another good example of the difference a Labor government makes.

Bankstown Airport is a great place to create local jobs, but it is a bad place for large passenger aircraft. The airport has a lot of potential as a major employment zone. More than 6,000 people already work there every day. Non-aviation development will see that rise to 20,000 jobs by 2031-and we need the jobs. According to the census, Blaxland already has the second highest unemployment in Australia. The New South Wales government’s metropolitan plan predicts an extra 43,000 new people will set up home in Bankstown in the next 15 years. Over the same period, the number of local jobs is expected to grow by just 14,000.

I think the airport is a great opportunity to create lots of high-skilled, well-paid jobs close to home. But with this, like any development, comes the need for supporting infrastructure. Last week Bankstown Airport and Bankstown City Council signed a memorandum of understanding committing both parties to working together on future developments. It is a great initiative and I congratulate both the council and the airport on it. It is one of the ways that we can improve cooperation between the airports and different levels of government on considered land use planning.

The Labor Party has a proud history of nation building. It has a history of building better cities under Keating and Hawke and of sewering major cities under Whitlam. Consider the contrast. When the last government vacated the field, federal involvement in infrastructure ended at the city edges. They were happy to sell the airports but relied on the states to fund the infrastructure needed. It just does not make sense when you think about how important our cities are to our economic prosperity.

Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. Four out of five Australians live in one of our major cities. They are the engine rooms of our economy. Capital cities contribute about 78 per cent of the nation’s economic growth. They would produce even more if our road and rail networks were more efficient. Traffic congestion already costs us $63 million a day. That is $16 billion a year. That is the equivalent of Australia’s total iron ore export. That is $16 billion wasted because we have not invested enough in our roads, our freight lines, our airports, ports and logistics. The Business Council of Australia has predicted that this figure will rise to $30 billion by 2020.

Traffic congestion also has a human cost. One in 10 working parents spends longer commuting than with their children. We need good infrastructure to ease congestion in our cities, and that means a federal government prepared to get their hands dirty and help out. That is why I am particularly glad to see the creation of a major cities unit within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, backed up by the $20 billion Building Australia Fund, with the first funds to go to projects like the duplication of the M5 East tunnel in Sydney, something that will make the airport work better and make Sydney work better. This bill and the coming aviation white paper are an important part of this-a chance to build sustainable cities and a chance to make a positive difference to the lives of the Australians that live in them. I commend the bill to the House.’