Page 3639 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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The increase in freight flights contained in the airport’s master plan does not appear to be excessive, but I would repeat my warning that the amenity of Canberra residents must not be threatened by airport expansion. If there are legitimate concerns from residents—as I said, I have been contacted by residents of Campbell—then these must be considered against the case for further expansion. I would not support any expansion plans that genuinely threaten the amenity of my constituents.

I do not agree with Dr Foskey’s call on the Legislative Assembly to lobby the federal government for a curfew for night-time flights. As I have already detailed, a moderate number of flights already occur between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am. I am not opposed to a reasonable increase in this amount, but I will be very critical of any attempt to make changes that adversely impact on residents.

It is interesting that one of the main issues that has been raised with me is not, in fact, the night issue, but the issue of trainer aircraft flying around in the day-time on Saturdays and Sundays. That is what the residents of Campbell tell me is more aggravating than the commercial aircraft that are taking off from Canberra airport. The training flights tend to go all over the place and, in particular, fly at relatively low altitudes over their suburbs.

I take this opportunity to say that, while I welcome the enthusiasm for an international airport in Canberra, some 33 years ago I was involved with helping Michael Hodgman successfully convince the Australian government to put an international airport in Hobart. We thought it was a great idea with an election coming up. That, of course, turned into a great white elephant.

We got one flight a fortnight between Hobart and New Zealand. Then it became one a month, then it became a shared flight between Qantas and Air New Zealand, and then they padlocked the airport terminal up for many years, despite our misplaced belief that we were going to be inundated with flights from New York, Paris, London and Rome. I do not think Canberra is going to become that sort of hub despite the best intentions of many in the town, as wonderful as it might be. I think those that are a little anxious that that is what is going to happen are probably unduly alarmed.

The development of the airport is an important issue, but I do not agree with much of the criticism that is levelled at an array of subjects by sections of the Canberra community. I believe that much of the development that has occurred at the airport is a good thing. I think the office accommodation and the environmental approach that has been taken in the design of those buildings out there have positioned it as a world-class world leader in terms of environmental consideration in building design. I am told by people who work out there that they would like a little bit more on offer than what is presently available, but one imagines that will come as the airport develops.

Certainly my primary consideration is in ensuring that further development and additional flights do not impact negatively on the Canberra community, in particular those residents who are situated close by in suburbs such as Campbell. Certainly I hope that every effort can be made to look at flight paths to avoid disrupting people in their neighbourhoods, having regard to the fact that there are many long-term

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