Additional Comments by Government Senators
This Senate Committee inquiry arose out of concerns with
Airservices’ management of aircraft noise and consultation during the Western
Australian Route Review Program (WARRP).
Government Senators note that this report is broadly in line
with the policies in the Government’s December 2009 Aviation White Paper, and
where there are policy problems they are in relation to decisions by the Howard
Many of the issues raised by non-Government Senators about WARRP
relate to decisions taken under the Howard Government. For example:
- The process of
reviewing the safety of flight paths near Perth Airport and throughout Western
Australia commenced in 2003 under the previous Government, using a consultation
process established by the previous Government, and.
- The decision that
WARRP would not have a significant environmental impact, and did not trigger
the need for wider assessment and consultation was taken in 2007 by the Howard
Government (refer to paragraphs 4.30-4.35 and Recommendations 9 and 10 of this
Government Senators share the criticisms made by Liberal and
National Party Senators of consultation processes employed under the Howard
Government. Consultation should have been more direct with the community.
Government Senators agree that the consultation undertaken
by Airservices during WARRP (2006 – 2008) should have been more directly with
residents, as well as through the Perth Airport Noise Management Consultative
Government Senators are concerned that although the
consultation should have been better, those who were part of the consultation
process also should have been more diligent.
Government Senators note the Consultative Committee used
during WARRP had representatives from all three levels of Government (including
the Member for Pearce, Judi Moylan MP), community groups and airlines.
The records of the Consultative Committee show that the
Member for Pearce was invited to eight meetings of the Consultative Committee,
but did not attend any of them – preferring instead to send apologies to seven
meetings, and a staff member from her electorate office to three of those
Government Senators note that the implementation of a number
of important measures outlined in the Government’s Aviation White Paper will
improve aircraft noise management at our major airports. These have already
been noted in Chapter 2 of this Report.
Importantly, improving the quality and accessibility of
noise information for communities near airports was an important part of the
Aviation White Paper. Measures being taken by the current Government include
the establishment of an Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to independently review noise
complaint handling and to improve Airservices’ consultation arrangements.
The establishment of an independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman
demonstrates the importance the current Government places on improving the
relationship between the industry, airports and their surrounding communities.
Government Senators note that Recommendations 1, 3, 4 and 6
appear broadly consistent with Government policy, as set out in Chapter 14 of
the Aviation White Paper.
While not necessarily disagreeing with other Committee
Recommendations, Government Senators are concerned that the costs, duplication
and bureaucracy associated with some of the Recommendations could be
significant. In particular:
- Recommendation 2 –
Noting there are about 180 airports in Australia that receive scheduled
passenger services, the Recommendation proposes an unclear and potentially very
expensive program of Community Advocates. The proposed Community Advocates
would have an unclear role which may cut across established consultation
processes, and may lead to situations where an unelected and unaccountable person
could conflict with sections of the community and/or democratically elected
Given MPs and local councillors
are elected as community representatives and advocates, it would be more
logical and responsible to improve training for MP’s, local councillors and
their staff in relation to airport and flight paths issues, and to employ
technical assistance if and when needed to supplement the work done by
- Recommendation 7 – This Recommendation is ill-conceived and would create a legalistic and
bureaucratic process that would be second guessing the business plans of
ANEF’s are built on long-term
scenarios of aviation growth (which could be forecasting up to 50 years in the
future) and are used as a tool for land use planning near airports. The
Recommendation, if implemented, could lead to an expensive and inconclusive
debate between duelling experts, property developers and planning authorities.
It is worth remembering that the
Commonwealth, airport lessees and the whole community of the region where the
airport is located all have an interest in conservative planning around
airports that protects the operational capacity of the airport and the amenity
of residential areas.
Senator Glenn Sterle Senator
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