House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Badgerys Creek; Member for Robertson

4:35 pm

Photo of Julia IrwinJulia Irwin (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The national aviation white paper released at the end of last year spells the death knell for Badgerys Creek airport. It is no longer an option.

After 11 years of Howard government procrastination, there is finally action on this important issue. The Commonwealth and the state of New South Wales will develop a joint proposal for the future use of the Badgerys Creek site. I must put on the record, and remind the task force, that many local residents continue to remain affected by the airport designation, both in and around Badgerys Creek.

I have received many letters, emails and calls from affected residents. They have been living with the airport plan and its designation for more than two decades. Those that fall within the airport designation zone are the ones bearing the greatest burden. Many are unable to develop their properties. Those that can are burdened by conditions imposed due to the Australian noise exposure forecasts.

One local mother wrote to me last year about her circumstances. She is living with her husband and two children in a caravan while they are trying to build their dream home. The local council has advised that they must design their home according to acoustic reports which compel them to comply with the requirements of the airport designation and ANEF. Their builder has advised this will add an additional $30,000 to the cost of their house, money they cannot afford, due to an airport that is not going to be built. Their only option is to wait.

Another local resident wrote:

My parents currently live by themselves. My mother has Alzheimer’s disease in an advanced stage. My father is a single carer at an age of 71. The plan was to build a house for my parents on my 25 acre property so I can assist looking after my mother as my current house is only an old keeper’s cottage. I have been advised by the local council that I will not be able to develop at all on my land. I would not even be able to rebuild my current house in case of a fire.

These are real people and real stories. Their needs are real and their urgency is real. The decision not to build Badgerys Creek airport has been made but the message to these people is: hurry up and wait. They look to us, their elected representatives, for assistance and we must assist them. The task force must assist by making the lifting of the airport designation an absolute priority in their deliberations so that those affected may finally get on with their lives.

I also want to comment on today’s article in the Daily Telegraph on page 3 headed, ‘Radio ads breach may cost Neal seat.’ I know for a fact that Ms Neal has worked tirelessly for a radiotherapy unit on the Central Coast and I was fully aware about the radio ads last year. Ms Neal’s involvement in this issue predates the preselection in Robertson. The Petitions Committee, of which I am chair, received a petition of more than 17,900 signatures in support of such a unit. The petition was tabled in the federal parliament by Ms Neal on 10 February 2009. The Petitions Committee conducted public hearings on the Central Coast on 23 March 2009 at the Entrance Campus of Tuggerah College, and Ms Kathleen Smith from Cancer Voices testified before the committee at those hearings about the need for a radiotherapy unit on the Central Coast. Ms Neal’s involvement is well known and well documented.

Earlier today in the parliament, Ms Neal highlighted the inaccuracies she has identified in the Telegraph article. Ms Neal rightly continues to carry out her duties as the member for Robertson, and any attempt to silence her impinges on her privilege as a member of the federal parliament. As such, the politically motivated charges against her to the ALP are absurd and the sourcing of this information to the Daily Telegraph smacks of political opportunism. And tellingly those ALP members who have sourced this information to the Daily Telegraph are themselves in breach of ALP party rules.