MP challenges government on airport plan

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, has called on the government to put community needs first as it plans to construct an airport at Badgerys Creek.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Templeman said recent multiple announcements raised questions the government needed to answer about flightpaths, economic benefits, supporting infrastructure, and the community consultative body, known as FOWSA.

“My region of the Blue Mountains has been told there will be huge economic benefits with a massive influx of tourists. But there is no planned investment in local roads or in local infrastructure. There are no rail links for people in the Blue Mountains or Hawkesbury to get to the airport,” Ms Templeman said.

“We are told that there will be tons of consultation about the flight paths, yet the runway direction is set. We are told that it will have no impact on world heritage in the fragile Blue Mountains landscape, yet we are also told that it will be as big as Heathrow and will operate 24 hours a day, with 100 per cent of incoming flights needing to traverse the Blue Mountains.”

Ms Templeman also raised concerns about the contradictory information being released about jobs and transport.

“We are told (the airport) will create tens of thousands of jobs yet, apparently, there are not enough people to justify a rail line.

“We are told that it will create some sort of economic boon, with benefits flowing throughout all of western Sydney. We are told that western Sydney wants it, yet none of the business people driving this over many years seem to live in western Sydney.”

In the speech Ms Templeman also highlighted the lack of equity and fairness when comparing the community consultation process, Forum on Western Sydney Airport or FOWSA, to its equivalent body for Sydney Airport. 

Sydney Airport's community Forum, Ms Templeman pointed out, included a spot for every local federal member whose electorate aircraft flies over.

While 11 electorates will be impacted by new or changed aircraft noise from the Western Sydney Airport, FOWSA remarkably only has two federal MPs and one senator.

“[FOWSA] is charged with being the key community consultation process for flight path design, according to the government's own documents," Ms Templeman said.

“It is therefore disappointing that two very strong Blue Mountains nominees for community reps for FOWSA were overlooked. Peter Dollin, current president of the residents' action group, RAWSA, and Jon Rickards, a long-time member of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

“To leave them both off FOWSA when my electorate has been the most vocal in expressing its concerns about the airport plan — with 80 per cent of the nearly 5000 responses to the environmental impact statement coming from the Blue Mountains — is a disgrace.

“It is understandable that I remain unconvinced of the upside of this project. There will be the noise, day and night, of a 24-hour airport across some of the quietest parts of our nation, the world heritage Blue Mountains and heading north through the Hawkesbury. There will be the visual disturbance. There is the unknown pollution impact over time for the World Heritage area.

“Ultimately, it comes down to this: at what point do we put communities first, people first? If this government and this parliament fail to provide the right plan and then the rigor and scrutiny that a project of this impact warrants —before it is built and not while it is being built—then I have no doubt that we will be rightly condemned by future generations who call the west home."