Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 402 ..
MR STANHOPE: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. As I have indicated on many occasions—as have my colleagues the respective ministers for planning, Mr Corbell, and Mr Barr—we support the Canberra airport for its utility for Canberra and the region and for the enormous economic importance which the Canberra international airport represents for Canberra and the region. Nevertheless, ever since the privatisation of airports around Australia, we have expressed a level of serious, genuine and deep concern that the Canberra international airport is not subject to ACT government planning regulation regimes or oversight. And, since amendments pursued were pushed through by the previous Liberal federal government, the NCA has not been able to assert any control or authority over planning at the Canberra international airport.
So we have a quite unique circumstance. There is one piece of land, and one piece of land only, in the entire ACT that is not subject to planning oversight by either an ACT or a federal government planning organisation. The Canberra international airport is subject only to the federal department of transport in its actions or its development. That is quite a serious circumstance or situation for any jurisdiction to be in—to have a significant area of land in operation that is not susceptible to any planning oversight by any government planning agency.
We have represented that position consistently for years. In the context of representations that I have made, my colleagues, I know, in relation to meetings of planning ministers and transport ministers, have raised these concerns regularly, particularly under the previous government, over years—as I did. At the last treasurers conference, chaired by the previous federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, along with all of my treasurer colleagues, I raised the issue and asked the then Treasurer, Mr Peter Costello, whether he would pursue it. He gave a short, sharp, on-the-spot answer: no. The then government had no interest in addressing issues of airport operations anywhere in Australia, let alone here in the ACT.
Premiers raised the issue with the previous Prime Minister in relation to it being an issue that needed to be pursued at a national level and one in relation to which premiers, through COAG, would like the Prime Minister to take a lead role. Of course, the issue was dismissed out of hand.
At a treasurers conference which was held in Brisbane in January this year, I raised the issue with the current Treasurer, Mr Wayne Swan. The first of the representations that I have made was directly to Treasurer Wayne Swan in concert with fellow treasurers from states and territories. A request was made by me at that meeting to seek a response by the current government, which has been in office for only three months—in fact 101 days—as to whether the current government was prepared to pursue state and territory concerns. This is not unique to the ACT; it is a concern shared by every state and territory government in Australia—that the airports within their jurisdictions are completely beyond the scope or ken of state and territory planning organisations. In the case of the ACT, the national capital, not even the NCA has any role anymore.
Wayne Swan agreed that the issue of operation, management and oversight of airports was an issue that the current federal government was prepared to give consideration to.