Aircraft noise & the new runway

By Terri Butler MP

02 February 2021

Our community and the former member for Griffith, the Hon. Kevin Rudd AC, fought strongly on the issue of aircraft noise. It was hard fought, and Kevin even became personally liable to pay $32,000 after taking the issue to court. The community rallied around him, but ultimately they were not able to stop the second runway at Brisbane Airport. In 2007, one of the last acts of the Howard government was to give the final approval for it. Throughout my time as the member for Griffith, I have made a number of representations to Airservices Australia and to the Brisbane Airport Corporation, and I want to thank them for engaging with me. Ultimately, though, it is the responsibility of the government, not unelected agencies, to call the shots. It is up to them to make sure that aircraft noise is managed well, while also making sure that Australians' domestic and international travel and freight needs are served.

When the second runway commenced operations in July, an additional cohort of my constituents—residents under the new flight path—began raising concerns about noise, in addition to those who were already under the existing flight path. My local colleagues, the Hon. Di Farmer MP and Councillor Kara Cook, and I have run a petition calling on the government to take action to mitigate noise and to respond to community suggestions for measures that could assist in that regard. As of yesterday, 1,769 people had signed that petition, of whom 1,138 are my constituents. The three of us wrote to the government about the petition in mid-October—we'd already written to the government about the issue previous to that—and our letter enclosed several constructive suggestions that locals had advanced.

Two months later, I received a response from the Deputy Prime Minister. He didn't provide a comprehensive itemised response to the suggestions that had been raised. I circulated his letter in my community, and a number of people have told me that they are extremely dissatisfied with it. One local commented: 'Typical responses, dodging the question and not providing an answer that is satisfactory. I expected nothing else from him!' Another said: 'It is very disappointing as there were some excellent suggestions that were reasoned and responsible. Thank you on your letter for asking for their response in plain English and non-technical terms. It would be good to continue to keep this issue alive.' Another said: 'The response from the Morrison government is a stock-standard response that does little to acknowledge either the concerns presented or proposed solutions. I'm disappointed that the federal government is ignoring these concerns.' Another said: 'The response was far too general. There was one substantive comment on the five-knot versus 10-knot tailwind limit for take-offs over the bay but no time frame was given. We should request a detailed response which addresses each of the suggestions made.' I share the view of that last commenter and request that the Prime Minister provide a further response that is responsive to the proposals that were made in our correspondence.