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Adelaide Airport curfew bill second reading speech

Speeches in Parliament
Penny Wright 12 Feb 2014

As an Australian Greens Senator for South Australia, I have introduced this simple bill to protect residents beneath the flight path of Adelaide Airport from night-time aircraft noise. It will amend an existing federal law to protect residential amenity from the noise impacts caused by late night and early morning take-offs and arrivals at Adelaide Airport.

Adelaide's airport lies in the suburbs just west of its central business district. Like Sydney's airport, the resulting convenience comes with the need to protect the amenity of the many people who live nearby, particularly those beneath the flight path. This is in contrast to other airports, such as Tullamarine in Melbourne, which lie much further from built-up residential areas, and can operate 24 hours per day with less impact on local residents. In relation to Adelaide Airport, the balance has been struck by the imposition of a night-time curfew, applicable to large planes including international passenger jets.

The details of the curfew are set out in the Adelaide Airport Curfew Act 2000 and associated regulations. That Act is a strong piece of legislative protection for the residents of Adelaide against constant noise pollution from large planes. Section 6 provides a clear legislative ban on large passenger jets taking off or landing at Adelaide Airport during the curfew period of 11pm to 6am. There are reasonable exceptions for small planes and emergency situations outside those hours. However, that ban is then qualified by sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Act, which provide a regime for the approval by the Minister for certain international aircraft to take off and land during the curfew's 'shoulder' periods, which are the hours either side of the curfew, namely from 11pm to midnight, and from 5am to 6am. This means that the Minister, by executive action, can effectively shrink the size of the curfew from 7 hours down to 5 hours, subject to any provisions in the regulations. This is precisely what happened in December last year, when the Transport Minister approved a Cathay Pacific application for four international flights per week to arrive in Adelaide at 5.10am, between April 6 and October 4.

This Bill seeks to strengthen the curfew, by repealing Division 1 of Part 3 and thereby reserving to Parliament the ability to vary the curfew in relation to international aircraft. The Bill does not affect the provisions of the Act in relation to low noise, heavy freight aircraft movements during curfew periods, or to other designated propeller or jet aircraft that are currently permitted to use Adelaide Airport during the curfew period. The amendments in this Bill apply to a take-off or landing which occurs after the Bill commences, regardless of whether the relevant Ministerial approval was granted prior to commencement.

I urge Senators to support this Bill, to protect the integrity of the Adelaide Airport curfew. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

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