Transcript of Doorstop: Tourism and Transport Forum Leadership Summit, Parliament House, Canberra



19 March 2014

No curfew at Brisbane Airport, Second Sydney airport, Qantas Sale Act, Arthur Sinodinos

Warren Truss: I am pleased to announce today that the Federal Government has accepted the recommendations of the Brisbane Airport Curfew Review Committee that there should be no curfew imposed on the Brisbane Airport. This continues the status quo; it's a decision that is supported by the Queensland Government, industry in the state, the city of Brisbane, and most of the industry organisations and particularly tourism groups, for whom the Brisbane Airport is a vital piece of infrastructure. This is the third busiest airport in Australia, and the third-most important arrival point for international tourists.

The Brisbane Airport has a very substantial buffer zone around it. The nearest house is twice as far away as the nearest house from the runway in Melbourne, and Melbourne does not have a curfew. It's ten times further—has a ten times larger buffer zone than airports like Sydney, Adelaide, Cairns or the Gold Coast. Some of those have curfews, but others do not. So the reality is that whilst I acknowledge that having an airport in a neighbourhood does have an impact on noise levels, and particularly in the middle of the night, that can be a concern to nearby residents.

But in Brisbane's case the residents are a long way away from the runway; they therefore have less of an impact than happens in places where curfews are imposed, and the economic cost of a curfew is such that it…the Curfew Review Committee felt that Brisbane can best operate without a curfew.

Question: Why not consider a trial of the night time curfew like the Member for Griffith was after?

Warren Truss: Well in reality there has been a long period now where Brisbane has operated without a curfew, indeed right from the very first days of its opening. So people have examined the impact, and the committee has taken the view that that impact is not sufficiently great, that a trial should be undertaken.

Question: Deputy PM, you mentioned Qantas in your speech, will the government attempt to pass the changes to the Qantas Sale Act, or the repeal of sections to the Qantas Sale Act next Thursday after this final senate report is handed down?

Warren Truss: Well we would like to pass the legislation as soon as possible, so that Qantas can plan for its future, and get on with the business of making sure they can operate as an efficient and profitable airline. It's very important for Australia that Qantas is able to trade profitably, that they're able to develop a business plan to meet their needs for the future, and for that reason it's important that the regulatory environment is settled as soon as possible. Now, we haven't made a firm decision to bring it to the Senator next Thursday, but clearly we'd like the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

Question: Your new report gives some projections about trucks on roads and people through airports [indistinct] the Tourism Transport Forum wants you to reconsider your, sort of, your investment, or decision not to invest in urban public transport—they [indistinct] over that. [Inaudible question.]

Warren Truss: Well we'll be investing substantially in urban road and rail networks; we'll be investing substantially and ensuring that our country has the trunk routes, and particularly the road system, that's necessary to facilitate inter-state trade. Now, the Commonwealth has not had a traditional role in urban public transport, that's a role that the states and local government can do better. By the Commonwealth spending more money on roads and freight rail in the capital cities, the states will have more resources to invest in urban public transport.

Now we acknowledge that urban public transport is important, but states have a lot of important responsibilities and things that they do well. And that is an area where the states have had the traditional responsibility; they have the skills and the expertise.

Question: Deputy PM how long do you think Arthur Sinodinos will be stood aside from the Ministry, and did you talk to him before he took his decision today?

Warren Truss: Well I hope that he will have to stand aside for just the smallest possible time. He's a very honourable and capable man, contributes significantly to this government, and of course the previous Howard Government, and we want him to take a full workload again as quickly as possible.

Question: The Prime Minister expressed full confidence in him 24 hours ago, today he's out of the Ministry. What's changed?

Warren Truss: Well I think the Prime Minister still believes that Arthur Sinodinos is an honourable man. He has demonstrated the depths of that honour by standing aside before there are really any accusations against him.

Question: But if there's no accusations—

Warren Truss: He has certainly gone the extra mile to demonstrate his commitments to high standards in the government.

Question: But if there's no accusations against him, if 24 hours ago the PM stood by him, why would he need to stand aside today?

Warren Truss: Well that's the decision that Arthur Sinodinos has made, and it demonstrates the depths of his honour, and his determination to ensure that the government is able to progress its agenda without unnecessary interference or concentration on side issues.

Question: Do you believe that it could have been a risk for this issue to fester and distract from the, say the upcoming Federal Budget for instance?

Warren Truss: Well we want to concentrate on the preparation of the budget, we want to concentrate on making the key decisions to get our country moving again, and that's where we'll be devoting our time and attention.

Question: Deputy Prime Minister, can I get you back on the Brisbane thing just briefly? There are extra— there is an extra runway going in soon, flights are only going to increase—what do you say to the people who live under the flight path that were desperate for this curfew to go in place?

Warren Truss: Well the new runway is about two kilometres away from the existing runway there, so it will have a somewhat different approach and departure pattern. So the impact will be spread more evenly across Brisbane. I think it is important that aircraft arrive and depart over the water into Brisbane whenever that is possible. And having the two runways two kilometres apart will help to facilitate both arrivals and departures over the water most of the time. Brisbane has that advantage that there is no population on one end of the runway, and therefore that's where the maximum noise should be concentrated.

Question: Regarding Sydney's second airport, you spoke briefly about that today, are we likely to see a decision unveiled in the next week or so? Or have the concerns of those Liberal MPs under those flight paths forced a re-evaluation of that timeframe?

Warren Truss: Well there's ongoing consultation with local government in that area, the local MPs, both Federal and state, interested groups, to make sure that when we make a decision it's one that has as much community support as possible. We are looking though at much broader questions. I mentioned in my remarks today the fact that there are two million people or more living in the Western Sydney Basin, that that number's likely to double over the years ahead, and therefore that area's going to need substantial infrastructure.

It's going to need roads, and it's going to need social facilities, and it's going to need train lines and everything else that a city of two to four million people takes for granted. So a lot of work needs to be done on infrastructure for Western Sydney, and much of the discussion involving the Western Sydney members is how we can provide the necessary infrastructure to meet the growing needs of that part of Australia's biggest city.

Question: So you're saying they need an airport plus infrastructure? That sounds like—in Western Sydney that sounds like it's just about a done deal.

Warren Truss: Well I'm saying that Western Sydney needs substantial infrastructure, and most places, probably every place in the world with a population of two to four million has an airport. And they need that for local and domestic uses. So the key thing I think for any new airport in Western Sydney, will be the provision of services to the immediate neighbourhood, the people who live there. As I also said in my remarks, Kingsford Smith Airport is going to remain the most important gateway to Sydney for the foreseeable future. But there are substantial policy—population expansion on all corners of Sydney, and those people will need the full range of transport services and facilities for their needs as well.

Question: Thanks very much.