Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Sunshine Coast Airport
During the election campaign I committed to making a speech on behalf of the people of Noosa's coastal and hinterland communities, who were outraged by what they see as a lack of meaningful, effective and genuine consultation for a new flight path from the Sunshine Coast Airport. This upset could have been avoided if right from the beginning the key stakeholders and agencies had been more diligent in the way they executed their responsibilities and genuinely consulted with affected communities as they were obliged to do. None of the responsible entities, from the Queensland Coordinator-General's office to the Sunshine Coast Council to Airservices Australia, can walk away from situation blame-free.
More than 250 residents from Noosa's coastal and hinterland communities have expressed to me their grave concerns about proposed flight paths. Their submissions present a damning assessment of the failure of all parties involved. Critically, constituents advised that were not made aware, by the Sunshine Coast Council or those conducting the environmental impact study and process, of the proposed flight path changes and the impacts it would have on them. Affected communities north of Coolum advised that they did not receive communications during the EIS process and became aware of the process only in March and April this year. As a result they had less than six weeks to consider the information and provide feedback to Airservices Australia.
The Queensland government failed to ensure a proper consultation process was followed and rubber-stamped the project after a tick-and-flick exercise instead of conducting a rigorous examination of the flight path's impact on those communities also. The people who live in the areas have a right to be fully consulted over the proposal, which puts jet engines over their homes and highly sensitive environmentally significant areas. These concerns are reflected by the thousands of people who raised objections, signed petitions and turned at overflowing public meetings to seek more information and make known their fears about noise pollution and the impact on the natural environment. It is clear that there is widespread consternation from the coast to the hinterland, as residents made more than 4,300 submissions to Airservices Australia to voice their concerns.
The limited and inadequate consultation has inevitably and rightly given rise to questions about probity and process, and I share the concerns of my constituents about whether due process was followed during the course of the government and Coordinator-General's rubber stamping of the application. Many of these issues wouldn't have come to light without the work of Flight Path Forum executive members, who I commend for their actions—navigating through multiple jurisdictions, departments and agencies, conducting a thorough analysis of local, state and federal policies and regulations, and making residents aware of what is being planned at Sunshine Coast and its impact on the Noosa communities.
During the election campaign, I committed to the calling of a review of the process, and I welcome the investigation that is now being conducted by the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman into whether appropriate consideration was given by Airservices Australia to potential noise impacts of the proposed flight path, the adequacy of information provided to affected residents and community consultation and the complaints handling process. I'm on the record in support of a mandatory curfew to be imposed on the Sunshine Coast Airport. That is the only way residents can be assured of some peace from aircraft noise. But, as the airport is owned and operated by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, the implementation and enforcement of a curfew is within the jurisdiction of the state and local governments. I call on them to act.
The people of Noosa deserve to have their voices heard. They have worked hard to identify the multiple flaws in path selection process. They have worked hard to identify alternative flight paths, and they have worked hard to ensure that proper process is followed. They have justifiably condemned the bungling by the Queensland Coordinator-General, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Airservices Australia. I seek leave to table their submissions to me as a document.
Leave not granted.