ACT News


Fischer says Tralee may doom hope for rail link

Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has weighed into the Canberra Airport flight-path debate, saying approval of the Tralee development would hit the ACT economy and scuttle any chance of high-speed rail for the capital.

The NSW state government is likely to give approval for the $400 million housing project south of Queanbeyan within weeks.

Village Building Company, which proposes to build 1000 homes, says its plans comply with existing rules around non-curfew airports, but a spokesman said Village would not comment again until the NSW government announced a decision.

Mr Fischer said ''McMansion'' builders would pour into the new development and lobby for a curfew which would restrict the airport's growth and kill plans for a high-speed rail link to Sydney.

''It's a classical case of pitiful short-term gain for massive long-term economic pain,'' he said.

Mr Fischer said Premier Barry O'Farrell must wait until consultancy AECOM Australia's findings are released at the end of this year on the high-speed rail proposal.


Meanwhile, Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron wants Mr O'Farrell to intervene in any planning approval.

Mr Byron said the airport had asked for but not received any indication on Tralee from Planning Minister Brad Hazzard before committing to the $42 million international component of its new airport terminal.

Mr Byron said it was galling the government chose to ignore its own Planning Assessment Commission's recommendation, because the commission's role was to improve transparency and independence.

Mr Byron said Canberra and Queanbeyan residents would face noise sharing.

''Today you don't get aircraft over you during the day or during the night. One day you will, when these [Tralee] residents complain.

''Secondly, you will get a curfew at Canberra Airport within a decade of the houses being built and that will curtail the ability of the airport to service the community and people who want to travel.''

Mr Byron said no agreement had been reached with the ACT government on roads, including that the Monaro Highway would not handle traffic from Tralee. Nor had the Commonwealth agreed on environmental protection approvals.

''There is a very long way to go on this,'' he said. ''This is a very poor decision if it comes through, but there is a very long way to go.''

Mr Byron said the decision would compromise Canberra as an overflow airport. ''The most important component is [Canberra's] curfew-free role, to accept aircraft 24 hours a day when Sydney cannot.''

He said Mr O'Farrell's view was aircraft noise should not be imposed on western Sydney residents, and so there should be no second airport within the Sydney basin.

Consequently, Mr O'Farrell's solution was a high speed train to Canberra airport. ''Not only do we lose, the Premier loses his entire policy on the second airport.''


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