THURSDAY, 21 APRIL 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to ensure no noise impact on communities from night flights at Badgerys Creek Airport; Cyber security; the Budget; Sale of Kidman & Co
SUSAN TEMPLEMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MACQUARIE: I'm Susan Templeman; I'm the Labor candidate for Macquarie. I'd like to welcome Bill, Anthony and Chris to this beautiful part of the world. This electorate has had some concerns about the plans for Western Sydney Airport and I'm gratified that Labor has heard those plans - heard those concerns. Labor has not only heard those concerns but Labor has acted on them and I'd like to welcome Bill Shorten to say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Susan. It's great to be here at the outskirts of Western Sydney with Susan Templeman Labor's hardworking candidate. Also with the Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and our spokesperson for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese.
Labor believes that Sydney needs a second airport; we're very supportive of the airport at Badgerys Creek. We do so because the Labor Party is the party of jobs for Western Sydney and we also want to help ease the congestion in Western Sydney.
So today, Labor as part of our plan to support Badgerys Creek, but also listening to the communities of Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and South-Western Sydney is pleased to announce another step towards creating local jobs, about a vision for Badgerys Creek, but ensuring that the needs of our communities are respected.
Today, I announce that Labor policy, if elected, for Badgerys Creek will be a no-fly zone over the existing communities around and near the airport. It's very important that as we ensure that people enjoy the economic benefits, including the jobs, the extra public transport, the new infrastructure, the economic activity in Western Sydney, that we mitigate the noise of local communities. So Labor's come up with a plan to make sure that there are no-fly zones over existing communities. I think it's a good and sensible development which reflects Labor being in touch with the needs and views of our local communities. I'm pleased to ask Anthony to talk further about our plans for Western Sydney and Badgerys.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT: Thanks very much Bill and it's great to be in what I very much hope will be Susan Templeman's electorate of Macquarie with also Chris Bowen as the Shadow Treasurer and also a great advocate for Western Sydney.
This proposal from Labor that we're announcing today is a win-win. A win for Western Sydney on jobs and the economic growth that will occur as a result of Badgerys Creek Airport, but a win also in terms of environmental safeguards and protections for these communities. As a result of the vision of the Hawke Government when they made the decision to provide the protections around Badgerys Creek Airport in terms of development of that site, it is possible to have a circumstance whereby using the same principles that operate at Kingsford Smith Airport at night, you can have literally no planes over existing communities and residences during the periods of 11pm and 6am. Effectively a no-fly zone. You can do that practically through using SIMOPS or Simultaneous Operations with landings and take-offs from the same direction over essentially forest rather than over people, and that is a good outcome for the people of Macquarie but also the people particularly of Chris's electorate and other people in Western Sydney.
You can also ensure with today's announcement that the departure and arrival flight paths will also protect those communities at night. So no noise at night. But significantly, as well, a commitment to ensure that there's no concentration of aircraft noise during the day either. No single community should suffer from aircraft noise beyond what is necessary.
The truth is when you have an airport during the day, there will be the occasional noise. I live pretty close to the end of the runway at KSA and I understand that. But I also understand how critical it is to the economy. But by having a noise-sharing, you can minimise that impact.
In addition to that, today we are committing to ensure that jobs benefit the people in Western Sydney. We need a jobs plan. At the moment the Government's spoken about Badgerys Creek Airport but haven't spoken about local jobs provision and we're determined across a Shorten Labor Government to make sure that the people of Western Sydney benefit from the jobs that will be created.
One of the first things that we've said as part of a Shorten Labor Government's infrastructure plan is also rail. It is absurd that the Government is saying that rail will come sometime in the future but won't put a date on it. We've said rail needs to be operating in terms of public transport access, not just for the airport, but for the employment lands around the airport. Last week I met with Penrith Council. They have quite an exciting plan for a science precinct around Western Sydney that would once again create jobs, just like Westmead has created so many jobs around Parramatta.
So this is a great announcement and its great leadership at the local level from Susan Templeman, but at the national level from Bill Shorten, who actually understands Western Sydney and understands the needs of not just the economy, but environmental protection.
SHORTEN: Thanks, are there any questions that anyone has on this or other matters?
JOURNALIST: Bill, firstly can we discuss the flight path you are talking about, is it going to be from the south-west or what are you looking at, can you give us some detail on that one?
ALBANESE: I'll do all the technical stuff as a former aviation Minister. Essentially if you look at the alignment of the runway, and this has been worked out in the joint master plan that was done and funded but jointly signed off by the Federal Government when we were in Government, and the State Coalition Government that was released back here three years ago. What it shows is that essentially you have a flight path that is aimed towards the south-west, away from existing residences and different communities. Now with simultaneous operations that you can have at low volume. To the question, to pre-empt it, why don't you have that all the time - when you have more flights during the day, you can't do that. But just as at night at Kingsford-Smith Airport if a freight plane has to leave or there is an emergency hospital flight wanting to get to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, what they have to do is fly out essentially through the bay, through the heads of the bay. You can do that at low volume periods and what we know is that at night, obviously it will be low volume period. There isn't a great demand to fly from Sydney to Melbourne at 3am. What there is, though, is the economic benefit that will come from the odd flight from the Middle East or from Asia because of time zones that will ensure that those flights can get into Sydney, but in a manner, in a manner that has no noise impact whatsoever on people.
JOURNALIST: But by the time this is built conceivably, south-west Sydney is the fastest growing region in the country, won't that area be populated by people, won't it be being developed or are you going to say no development in south-western Sydney?
ALBANESE: No we're not saying that at all. If you go and have a look at the maps, you go and look at the maps of where it's designed, you look at where the growth is anticipated and the big growth zones of course are to the north-west of Sydney and to the south-west, a lot further south essentially of the existing Badgery's Creek site that's been identified. The existing protections are in place, around the airport. It has an additional advantage, which is that it is more than twice the size in terms of number of hectares, it's about 1,800, more than twice the size of the existing Kingsford-Smith Airport which is the constraint that's there. That is why Kingsford-Smith Airport is full. That's why you can't solve it with action there. So, the ground noise, also that is an issue for people in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith and Sydney and mine and Barton will also have no impact in terms of at the Badgerys Creek Airport. That's because of good planning.
JOURNALIST: Is it not true that flights and aircraft have to fly into the wind if it's greater than 10 knots. So, if you get a big southerly coming through, how on earth are you going to land it?
ALBANESE: No, it's not. These days technology has got a lot better. And let me tell you at Kingsford Smith Airport, during the last year, there was something like 4,000 flights between 11pm and 6am. I assure you if it was waking people up, you would have been doing stories on it about those issues. So, that's why those principles, those principles of protecting people and I think what Susan has said and Chris Bowen has said and other people of Western Sydney who are the representatives from Labor have said, we deserve the same consideration for our lifestyle as other Australians have.
JOURNALIST: What experts have you consulted on this?
ALBANESE: I've consulted experts.
JOURNALIST: Who are they?
ALBANESE: I'm not going to name all the experts that are there. Have a look at the joint study, for example, where we spent $10 million of expertise went into that joint study. Have a look at what they had to say about the benefit of Badgerys Creek where they looked at a comparative analysis of all of the different airports. And certainly when I was in Government, there was full consultation with the department. One of the things that occurred when we were looking at different sites before this Government, of course, it's the Abbott Government that chose a Badgerys Creek Airport. But we haven't played politics with this. We have said we support it but let's get the noise measures right, but the analysis has been there, there is 30 years of analysis that backs up the fact that this is possible and in terms of aviation experts, will tell you that SIMOPS operates all around the world, it operates safely as do aircraft flight and departure paths that have got better and better. One of the things that we did in Government was ban, for example, Chapter 2 aircraft which are the noisiest aircraft. And these days even compared with the period 2007 to 2013 while I was the Minister, the planes these days you can direct, because of computers and new technology, you can direct very accurately precisely where they fly over. If you want them to fly over that telegraph pole, you can punch in the coordinates and they will fly over that telegraph pole. That's why we're very confident with this announcement.
JOURNALIST: Bill how important is a 24-hour airport to Western Sydney and obviously the Labor Party is now supporting a curfew of Badgerys Creek?
SHORTEN: Well, if I can just go back to one of your earlier questions first and just give Albo a plug, you said who are the experts. I'll rank Labor's transport spokesperson against anyone the Coalition put up and I think all of you couldn't fail to be a little impressed by his command of the detail. And the broader question you ask about 24-hour airports, Labor's committed to the economic growth of Western Sydney. This State of NSW and the nation can only succeed when Sydney's going well. And the congestion and the need for jobs locally and the economic boon which an airport brings is fundamental. What Labor's sought to do is get the balance right. The big difference between us and the Liberal Party is they've said 24 hours and they've just ignored all of the community issues. But we've got smart local candidates, we've got senior members of my shadow team like Chris, smart local candidates like Susan and they've said listen, the community has concern about aircraft noise and I understand that. I have an electorate which borders an airport in Melbourne. So, what Labor's done is we've listened to locals. We don't pretend everyone’s going to be happy with everything we've said but what we're willing to do is go that extra distance to make sure that we get the noise issue right. So, this idea – this plan of a no-fly zone over existing communities to me gets the balance right but doesn’t compromise the economic growth and opportunities that Badgerys Airport offers Sydney, New South Wales and Australia.
JOURNALIST: This looks like a bit of a political play doesn’t it? Badgerys Creek Airport is a long, long way away. You've got Macquarie, Werriwa, Macarthur all up for grabs. Are people right to be a bit cynical?
SHORTEN: Not at all, I think that's very unfair that proposition. The truth of the matter is, that when Liberals took the next stage in the development of Badgerys Airport, Labor could have stood back and thrown rocks and we didn't. Because I'm more interested in Australia doing well, I'm more interested in Sydney doing well than I am whose name is on the plaque, but what we won't do is ignore legitimate community concern. The best time to talk about aircraft noise is well in advance. What sort of nation would we be if we kicked the problem down the road for future parliaments and future generations to deal with? Quite frankly, this is why the Labor Party is ready to govern Australia because we're thinking for the future, not just the next opinion poll or the date of the election. We're thinking about how this marvellous area of Western Sydney grows and expands but does so in such a way that we don't compromise the environment. For us the future of Australia's economy is not just about economic growth, it's about quality economic growth, it is about having a lifestyle as well as a job, but we think we are getting the balance right here.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can get back to the experts thing, are you saying this entire proposal has been based on the knowledge of Anthony Albanese?
SHORTEN: Listen, Anthony answered that question perfectly well before, all I was doing -
JOURNALIST: Well he didn't give us anyone, so I don't know how -
ALBANESE: I did, I gave you the report.
SHORTEN: What I was doing was just acknowledging Albo's work. And I think it is the difference. If you want to find out a policy for the future of Western Sydney or Sydney, you go to the experts, Chris Bowen, Susan Templeman, Anthony Albanese. We're the ones trying to work on the community issues as well as the economic issues. The Liberal's will talk about the cost of everything. We're talking about investing in public transport. We're talking about investing in jobs, but we're talking about investing in community. For us the end game isn't the Budget or the economy in itself, it's about making the economy and the Budget and our decisions work for communities, work for families, work for small businesses.
JOURNALIST: Just to change track if I may, we've had the PM out today talking about the war on cyber terror. Are you willing to offer that way forward bipartisan support or does it appear to be a bit of fluff and fluster?
SHORTEN: Well, when it comes to national security, Labor and Liberal are in this together. One of the hallmarks of our period of Opposition has been to make national security where we possibly can a bipartisan proposition. The truth is, if you're a cyber-criminal or if you're a people smuggler or a terrorist, both Labor and Liberal are equally committed and we work together. We're happy to support efforts to ensure that we have the right cyber security. There's one good thing about Australian politics at the moment, you can vote Liberal or you can vote Labor and you can be confident that when it comes to national security we read from the same song sheet.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on another topic in the News today, the talk of keeping the deficit levy, you're considering this. How is it that you could be considering that, considering you're opposed to raising taxes or is it a case that you're still prepared to continue with it to fund the deficit that the Liberals say you created?
SHORTEN: Well, thank you for that. First of all, the tax you mention, the deficit levy was levied by Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott. I love the Liberals, whenever they say something, you pretty much know they mean exactly the opposite. So when they say they want lower taxes, what they actually do is they're going to increase taxes. Now we haven't made a final decision about the deficit levy. We want to see what sort of mess Scott Morrison has made of the books, and let's face it, we're not holding our breath to find any great, good news in it. But the truth of the matter is, and I can give you this steer about the deficit levy going forward. We don't know exactly how bad the Budget is with this Government, but the sort of Government I lead is one which says that if you have to make a choice between giving tax cuts to the multinationals, tax cuts to the big banks, tax cuts to the top 1 per cent of income earners, or we fund our hospitals, we tackle the shocking problems around waiting lists for emergency wards and indeed for elective surgery, if you want us to tackle the proper funding of schools or stand up for our pensioners, it's very clear whose side I and Labor are on. We'll put people first and we'll put this issue of tax cuts for the top end of town, second.
JOURNALIST: On the banks, Scott Morrison says that you're are playing politics with people's pain, do you have a response to that?
SHORTEN: Scott Morrison's had a shocker of the last 24 hours. I think, to be honest, most Australians couldn't believe what they were hearing when Scott Morrison was asked, well, 'if the banks are going to have to pay $120 million, what will you, Scott Morrison, do to stop the banks passing it onto their customers?' And all Scott Morrison could do was say is he'd be cross, he'd be furious? I bet the banks laughed all the way last night when they saw that. The truth of the matter is on the banks, we've seen more reform proposed by the Liberals and big banks in the last 24 hours than the last 24 years, and why? Because they face the prospect of a Royal Commission. If you see this sort of panic in the Liberal Government, if you saw belated offers of a deal from the banks, offering money, offering to change some of their ways and that's all with just talking about a Royal Commission, imagine what will happen when we have a Royal Commission. I might ask Chris to further add to the answers.
CHRIS BOWEN: Thanks, Bill, just to say, as Bill said, we've seen more activity over the last 24 hours as a result of Labor's leadership. We saw a cop-out of measures from the Government yesterday. Today we've seen the banks move. Now, can you imagine either of those things happening if Bill Shorten hadn't announced an incoming Labor government would hold a Royal Commission? The answer is no. In relation to the banks' announcement today, obviously we welcome any improvement. We welcome the introduction of better support for whistle-blowers. That's something that we mentioned in our press conference announcing the Royal Commission, for example. In relation to remuneration and incentives, this is something in fairness - and I want to pay tribute here to the Finance Sector Union - a lot of politicians are quick to criticise unions. The Finance Sector Union, the representatives of employees in the banking sector, has been saying this for years that the incentives to sell more product, the remuneration structure is leading to bad outcomes for bank workers and consumers, and today the banks appear to have accepted that and I think we should take a moment to say well here's one where a trade union, the Finance Sector Union's done a good job, has worked very hard for a period of years and has been vindicated today. Obviously, as we said, we welcome improvements, but a Royal Commission would bring about the biggest improvement of all.
JOURNALIST: Gentlemen, do you favour or oppose the sale of the Kidman Cattle empire to Chinese interests?
BOWEN: Well, our position on foreign investment is that it should be in the national interest. Now, the Treasurer has said he needs more time to examine whether this is in the national interest. We trust and hope that that is his real reason for delaying this decision. We'll give him, if you like, the benefit of the doubt on that one because it is a significant sale and it should be considered closely and he should get the best advice possible. If he feels he needs longer, well we'll, as I said, give him the benefit of the doubt that this is the real reason. Foreign investment is important for Australia's future, but it must be in the national interest and it should be weighed up and there's a process to do that, the Foreign Investment Review Board advising the Treasurer of the day, it's the way it has been under governments of both persuasions and it will continue.
JOURNALIST: Do you not have a view, does Labor not have a view as to whether or not it's in the national interest?
BOWEN: Well as the Treasurer has the Foreign Investment Review Board advising him with all the evidence available to him, and that’s the process that should be allowed to take its course.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what's your reaction to Sally Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew being released from custody in Lebanon overnight?
SHORTEN: I'm pleased that Australians are not in jails in Lebanon, but I think one of the things which hasn't perhaps had the attention that it deserves, and I speak here as a parent, is the wellbeing of the children. I get that there has been a breakdown in relationship between Sally Faulkner and her former husband. It's a really difficult challenge in Australia when one former spouse takes their children beyond the Australian jurisdiction and you've got all these dreadful, dreadful, debilitating issues about do you see your kids or not.
I'm pleased that the Australians are out of jail, I'm pleased, I understand that they're heading back here, that's good, but I'm most concerned about the welfare of these kids and I'm also concerned that Australia needs to do more, I think, to deal with this issue of one spouse taking children away from Australian jurisdiction.
JOURNALIST: How could Australia do more in that respect?
SHORTEN: If there was a simple answer, I think someone who have found it wouldn't they? But I think that in all of this I'm not going to lose sight of the impact upon that family and the kids.
JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull said that it's important for Australians to respect laws overseas when they're foreigners, what's your response to that?
SHORTEN: Of course it's important to respect laws when you travel overseas, but I also note that Mr Turnbull today has said that Australia's leading the world in tackling tax avoidance. I'm not sure that we are, actually, and I think the real challenge here is that Mr Turnbull needs to explain how we can be leading the world and sack 4,400 staff from the Australian Tax Office. Labor's determined to make sure that the big end of town does its work. I think a Royal Commission into banking would provide that extra level of confidence which Australians expect from such important institutions. If business as usual was going to be satisfactory, then we wouldn't see the sort of multinational gaming of the system in Australia. We wouldn't see all of the recourse to this Panama Papers and the tax havens, and we wouldn't see the sort of financial scandals which have been particularly intense in the last 12 months. I think Mr Turnbull needs to make clear here just exactly whose side he's on. He needs to make clear here, is he satisfied with just restoring the funding to the corporate regulator which his own party took away, is going to be enough to promise? Will he guarantee no more banking scandals? Will he guarantee, will he vouch for the ethics and the standards of the Australian banking industry? Because if he's not prepared to guarantee and put down on paper that he guarantees the ethics of the Australian banking industry as they stand, then why on earth is he digging in and opposing the Royal Commission for? I think it has been remarkable, as Chris said, that we've seen such, panic is the only word I could use, from our Treasurer, sayings 'Oh, well, we were prepared to cut $120 million, but would you believe miraculously the banks have decided to give $120 million to the Federal Government which of course would come from the customers'. But if they're willing to do that, what on earth will we find out with a Royal Commission? And I am sure that we will see a debate about ethical standards. Each time this Government, and indeed Labor, legislated to fix up a problem from a particular scandal, we'd find another pocket of misconduct pop up. Business as usual isn't good enough anymore in Australia. It's not enough to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people and say, 'Don't look here. Keep moving along'. Labor, we'll introduce a Royal Commission into the banking, financial services sector. I don't think in the light, particularly of the admissions of the ABA and Mr Turnbull about what they're prepared to do now. Anything less would be selling out the Australian people.