Under the protection of Parliamentary privilege, the Member for Macquarie, Louise Markus, has attacked my position on the Western Sydney Airport proposal and accused me of lying.
Her accusations are false, and are designed to attempt to deflect from her consistently poor performance as Member for Macquarie.
Public concern at her poor performance, her preselection woes and the dysfunction of the Liberals are clouding her judgement.
My opposition to the proposed Badgery’s Creek airport and its effect on our community has been clear and consistent. As soon as I became aware of the effects, described in the draft Environment Impact Statement as “negative impact with major consequences of a very high rating”, I organised and campaigned against it, preparing and handing out material about it at Blaxland Railway station two days after the draft EIS was published.
I then convened a public meeting that brought more than 450 people together and my campaigning against the proposal culminated in the speech I gave at the special Blue Mountains Council meeting. I have never deviated from the view that the Abbott/Turnbull airport plan is a huge threat to the Blue Mountains.
With no curfew, flight paths that, according to senior public servants, require our community to have “respite” from the noise, it is being rushed through on the back of a pitiful EIS.
The draft EIS fails to provide any assurances or evidence that World Heritage status or the health of people living beneath its 24 hour footprint can be protected. For these and many other reasons, I remain opposed to this airport.
Louise Markus talks nonsense when she says she will find a new flight path away from Blaxland and Glenbrook at the same time ensuring there are no flights over World Heritage areas. The only way that could be achieved is if you land the plane at Parramatta on the M4 or at Lithgow on the great Western Highway and tow them to Badgerys Creek!
The more we learn about the plan the worse it sounds: no limits on the number of flights, day or night; no concern by bureaucrats in the selection of indicative flight paths for people who live below; no final decisions on flight paths for up to 10 years, and an international airline industry view that ultimately Sydney Airport will close so that all aircraft activity is hubbed at Badgery’s.
Which is why, in spite of the fact that the ALP national platform expresses support for a second airport for Sydney, I think it would be a mistake to proceed with the proposed airport. Unlike Louise Markus, I am not afraid to have a view that differs from others within my Party. In fact, when your party is wrong or undecided, you have an opportunity to influence. I am determined to ensure the real impacts of the Abbott/Turnbull plan are understood.
I am not alone in highlighting serious problems with the airport plans. Senator Doug Cameron is appalled at the plan. Both Doug and the Member for Chifley, Ed Husic, have spoken on the record about their opposition to the proposal.
I find it offensive that Mrs Markus attacks our local Blue Mountains Council who, whether they are Labor, Liberal or Independent, have united on a position that reflects the views I continue to hear in the community. She attacks them for seeking independent analysis of the EIS and promoting the concerns about the proposal, yet she happily spends taxpayer funds to print her own flyers to dismiss residents’ concerns including about the airport impact on bush fire management.
Mrs Markus should stop trying to convince us that getting a second public viewing of glossy maps and touch screen propaganda is a victory. She is so out of touch with our community that she couldn’t lead public opinion on this matter if she tried.
It doesn’t matter if you speak to me in public or in private, I will gladly tell you my concerns about the Abbott/Turnbull Badgery’s Creek airport. I will tell you how I want to represent my community’s concerns on the matter. I will tell you that I will not stop fighting until we have protected this area where we choose to live for its peace, quiet and unique sense of community.
I strongly support job creation, however job creation and airline and airport profits must be balanced against the cost to the community.
If you can’t build an airport without treating the West differently to the East, and without destroying the quality of life of millions of western Sydney people, including those in the Blue Mountains, you shouldn’t be building it at all.
6 March 2016