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'Nothing sinister' in Tralee talks

Date

John Thistleton

Village Building Company managing director Bob Winnel on site at Tralee.

Village Building Company managing director Bob Winnel on site at Tralee. Photo: Jay Cronan

The Liberal senator for the ACT, Gary Humphries, says there is nothing inappropriate or sinister in getting information from the developer of the Tralee housing project to help frame questions at a Senate estimates hearing on aircraft noise.

Senator Humphries had asked Department of Infrastructure and Transport secretary Mike Mrdak about reviewing the management of aircraft noise during a recent rural and regional affairs and transport legislation committee hearing.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said Tralee's developer, Bob Winnel, had given Senator Humphries the information for the Senate hearing.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The airport opposes the NSW government's decision to approve Tralee for 2000 homes, saying it will lead to aircraft noise complaints, noise-sharing over the ACT and Queanbeyan, and eventual loss of the airport's curfew-free status.

Mr Byron said Senator Humphries' questions, and reports of a fund-raising dinner for the Liberal Party, raised serious questions for the NSW government on the wisdom of approving Tralee.

Mr Winnel hosted the fund-raising dinner in mid-October at his home in Yarralumla, which was attended by Mr Abbott and Mr Humphries.

He said the decision on Tralee flew in the face of recommendations from the Planning Assessment Commission, which was established to improve transparency and independence in planning.

Senator Humphries said Mr Winnel's fund-raising dinner was held some time after the NSW cabinet had made the decision to approve Tralee.

At a Senate estimates hearing on October 16, Senator Humphries questioned federal transport and aviation staff on noise standards.

On Sunday he said: ''When senators ask questions in committee, particularly in estimates committee, they are often done so on the basis of a discussion with a constituent or organisation which brings issues to their attention before the hearings take place, and that's the nature of what was discussed between me and Bob Winnel about noise standards at Canberra Airport.

''I am not particularly concerned whether the development goes ahead or not.

''What I am concerned about is whether the same noise standards apply to the ACT as will apply in other parts of Australia.''

Senator Humphries said Mr Winnel had raised an interesting issue with him in relation to noise standards that educated his questions at the estimates committee.

''There is nothing inappropriate or sinister about that. I would say every day when the Senate estimates committees meet that very same phenomenon happens,'' he said.

Senator Humphries said he did not know whether Mr Winnel was at the hearing, but anyone was free to watch proceedings over the internet.

Senator Humphries said he did not have a separate fund-raising account, and funds raised for the federal Liberal campaign would go to whoever was preselected.

He was unable to say whether the funds raised could be redirected to NSW.

''I can say we need this money in the ACT for the next federal election here.

''I can tell you now, none of it will be going to NSW.''

Mr Winnel did not return calls.

4 comments

  • So now we know why Zed Seselja and Gary Humphries have not come out and condemned their mates in Sydney over their approval of Tralee. They are prepared to sacrafice their Canberra constituents to aircraft noise sharing all for the sake of a healthy campaign fund courtesy of a big developer.

    Commenter
    Kambah Kid
    Location
    Tuggeranong
    Date and time
    November 19, 2012, 7:44AM
    • Possibly Abbott, Humphries, O'Farrel and Winnel could be forced to live at Tralee to display the fact that they are comfortable with this decision or better still they can all move to Tuggeranong. That way at least then we'll know that flight won't get rerouted over the valley.

      Commenter
      Eric Olthwaite
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 19, 2012, 9:02AM
      • Sounds a little like Mr Byron is really getting the ducks and drakes.

        Commenter
        NITRO GANGSTER
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        November 19, 2012, 10:13AM
        • Anybody supporting Tralee should be forced to live there under the strict condition they must pay $10,000 to charity every time they complain about aircraft noise.

          Commenter
          Meanwhile
          Location
          in the real world
          Date and time
          November 19, 2012, 11:03AM
          Comments are now closed
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