Monday, 3 June 2013
Electorate of Hasluck: Aircraft Noise
My electorate is located in the eastern suburbs of Perth, an area that is in close proximity to the Perth airport. Whilst my community has been fortunate to benefit from both tourism and the mining boom, particularly through employment for many residents in my electorate and the many small businesses that have been created as a result, the mining boom has also brought a significant increase in the number of aircraft flying in and out of the Perth airport. This and the changes to the flight paths in 2008 have had a substantial impact on residents of several suburbs of my electorate. I want to clarify that this is not a concern that has emerged recently; in fact, it is an issue that residents in my community have been contending with since 2008 or earlier.
I want to commend my colleagues, the member for Swan and the member for Pearce, who have been fighting tirelessly for not only their residents but also all Perth residents affected by aircraft noise. Over the last seven years they have been strong advocates for noise amelioration for residents affected by aircraft noise. Although this is not a new issue, that certainly does not detract or lessen the noise pollution that the residents of my community are experiencing. Residents of South Guildford, Guildford, Caversham, High Wycombe, Maddington, Woodbridge and the Hills are all experiencing loud aircraft noise, and, by all reports, the noise continues to worsen as the capacity of the airport grows and the number of flights each day increases.
I would like to share what aircraft noise actually means for the residents of these suburbs, many of whom have lived in their homes before the flight paths were altered and this issue emerged. Aircraft noise is not a background rumble like that of a radio providing friendly commentary; rather, the noise the residents of my community are experiencing is so loud that it is keeping them awake at night and is making it impossible to conduct conversations over the noise.
I can attest to just how loud this can be. In the last couple of weeks I have been out in my electorate door-knocking in the suburb or Woodbridge. Whilst I was speaking to some residents I was forced on several occasions to pause the conversation mid-sentence for half a minute while a flight passed by overhead. It would simply have been impossible to be heard above the roar of the aircraft. This experience is so renown that it is known as the 'Guildford pause'. Recently I was at one of my local schools for a service, where the service had to be stopped during the space of a few minutes to ensure that the guest speaker was heard above the thunderous roar of the aircraft flying directly overhead.
Unfortunately for those it affects, aircraft noise is a significant concern. It has a genuine impact on the lives of those living or working under flight paths. It is disappointing that unfortunately, historically, this is a concern that federal government has been reluctant to become involved with, particularly when it comes to Perth airport. Despite considerable community support for public consultation around the changes that would ameliorate aircraft noise, aircraft noise is treated differently in Perth to other capital cities. Perth residents have been denied the opportunity to have changes implemented that would offer benefits, such as aircraft noise insulation schemes or, at worst, curfews. Residents in Sydney and Adelaide benefit from aircraft noise insulation schemes and other noise amelioration measures, but Perth continues to receive no such schemes or curfews. Residents are currently forced to foot the bill for any efforts that they have made to reduce aircraft noise, unlike residents in Sydney and Adelaide, who receive government assistance.
One resident of mine living in High Wycombe recently wrote to me in disbelief. He and his wife are desperate to reduce the amount of noise they are experiencing while inside their house. They have investigated the option of having insulation put into their roof but have been quoted nearly $6,000 to do so. I cannot imagine that this gentleman and his wife, like many residents in my community, have a mere $6,000 easily accessible to have such a measure installed.
This government has rebuffed Perth residents' efforts to have their experiences recognised in a way that would provide them with some relief. In fact, it was only a few months ago in this place that a private members' bill, the Air Services (Aircraft Noise) Amendment Bill, was presented by the member for Pearce and the member for Swan and was voted down by this Labor government. It is disappointing that this Labor government ignored the pleas of residents not only in my electorate but also in the electorates of Swan and Pearce, to vote with the Independents.
It would seem that there has been little public consultation on or consideration of this important issue, and unfortunately the residents who are most affected by these changes do not feel that they are able to contribute to the decision-making process. This is attested to by the fact that, since the flight path changes in 2008, residents have not been successful in achieving any kind of noise amelioration.
As a community, we need to come together and have a serious and practical conversation about how best to manage concerns around the aircraft noise. I know that some of my residents are calling for a curfew to allow them to have a reprieve in the evenings from the constant roar of the flights, which are sometimes only minutes apart. But, rather than jumping to an all-or-nothing approach, it is important that we consider every available option to manage this issue while providing assistance to those affected by aircraft noise. It is for this reason that I sit on the Perth Airport Aircraft Noise Management Consultative Committee and the Community Aviation Consultation Group. I want to ensure that the residents of my community have every possibility of having their voices heard and to thoroughly investigate every option available.
I recently wrote to the Perth Airport Aircraft Noise Management Consultative Committee and the Community Aviation Consultation Group, asking them to consider placing a temporary noise monitor in High Wycombe to determine the full impact of the aircraft noise on those residents living in High Wycombe. I would also like to add that, while working with these groups, I have encountered some passionate locals and community organisations, including the Guildford Association, who have been community champions for this issue. Members of the Guildford Association have undertaken extensive research into this issue and have been invaluable in the fight to achieve a positive outcome for our region.
Currently, there is a review of the noise monitors for 2014, and as part of this process I have submitted a recommendation for one to be placed in High Wycombe. I am aware that Guildford has a permanent noise monitor and should continue to have a permanent noise monitor, due to the large impact that aircraft noise has on residents. But Guildford is not the only suburb that is affected by aircraft noise, and often it is different flight paths causing concerns to different areas of my electorate. It is important that we also monitor those impacts in other areas such as High Wycombe, which is in close proximity to the airport.
I want to emphasise that aircraft noise is treated differently in Perth to other capital cities. Residents in Sydney and Adelaide benefit from aircraft noise insulation schemes and other amelioration measures, but Perth receives nothing.
In fact, I note that in this year's budget was a $5-million amount set aside for noise insulation measures for a church building. Unfortunately, there has been no such recognition for anywhere in Perth. Due to the mining Western Australians enjoy and the opportunity of flexible employment—many within my electorate are part of the fly-in fly-out community—these individuals and families benefit from increased flight opportunities out of Perth.
As long as we have a strong mining industry and a healthy population, there will be a high demand for air travel in Western Australia. But in no way should this mean that the people on the ground living in our community are forced to ensure unbearable noise levels. I believe there should be a noise insulation scheme in Perth protecting residents most affected by aircraft noise. Residents of my local communities deserve the benefits of the same measures in other places such as Sydney and Adelaide.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 21:27