Calling for action on aircraft noise
Aviation is the federal government's responsibility, and the current federal government has been in power for eight long years. As local representatives, Terri Butler, Di Farmer, and Kara Cook are calling on them to face up to their responsibility and listen to locals' concerns about aircraft noise.
A message from Terri Butler MP
As I recently told the parliament, "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."
Calls for action
- Di, Kara and I have called on the Liberal National government to:
- state, in non-technical terms, what options are available to reduce noise in our local suburbs following the commencement of operations of the second runway; and
- implement any measures reasonably available to reduce noise, subject always to safety requirements.
You can find the petition to support these calls below.
- Di, Kara and I have also supported community calls for the Morrison government to hold a public meeting involving the relevant regulators, the Brisbane Airport Corporation and a representative from the government.
- Along with fellow Brisbane-based Labor federal MPs, I have called on the Morrison government to establish a strong, independent, permanent Airport Community Forum for Brisbane residents. There is more information on this call below.
- In 2020, Di, Kara and I collated suggestions for noise mitigation advanced by the local community. We have provided those suggestions to the Liberal National government, asking for a plain English response.
- Amongst those suggestions is a call for better noise monitoring. There are existing permanent monitors at Bulimba, near the river, and at Cannon Hill, as well as others further south. A temporary monitor was stationed at Balmoral for a period in mid-2021. Our local team has called for an additional permanent noise monitor at a high elevation either in Hawthorne or on the hill at Balmoral.
Our local team represents our whole community. We will not be advocating for any changes that leave any locals worse off.
Other useful information
The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman has reported on the flight path design process and whether Air Services engaged properly with the community when determining the new flight paths. See further below.
Air Services Australia has announced a post-implementation review, following the opening of the new runway. Further information is available below.
The Liberal National government has announced a community panel to provide independent advice and oversight in relation to the post-implementation review. Our local team has sought the community's views about that new panel.
A Brisbane-wide community group has formed, to advocate in relation to aircraft noise. There is some information about this group provided below. This group states that it is non-partisan. The group advocates to us, but it is independent of, and separate from, our local team.
Sign our petition
"We have been asking locals to sign our petition and stand together as a community to ask the LNP Federal Government in Canberra to advise us of options.
"When you sign the petition, you can also register any questions or comments you might have. We can reflect your specific questions or comments in representations we make to the Deputy PM.
"As a community we have stood up together on many important local issues over the years. We need to now do it again and as your local team, we are determined to do the best we can to support you."
-- Terri, Di and Kara
Petition to the Deputy Prime Minister
We the undersigned call upon the Deputy Prime Minister to state, in non-technical terms, what options are available to reduce noise in our local suburbs following the commencement of operations of the second runway. We further call on the Deputy Prime Minister to implement any measures reasonably available to reduce noise, subject always to safety requirements.
Labor calls for a new permanent watchdog
Federal Labor MPs have called on the Morrison government to introduce a permanent, independent community forum that should:
- deal with aircraft noise abatement and related environmental issues and have access to necessary data and technical expertise;
- have broad representation of all areas affected by airport operations;
- be designed to avoid any perception of or susceptibility to industry capture, including by regulators, aviation companies, or the airport operator.
Recent advocacy about aircraft noise in the parliament
Thanks to our Labor colleague Senator Anthony Chisholm for asking questions about aircraft noise in Senate Estimates recently. Thanks also to the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance for suggesting topics for questions.
Senator CHISHOLM: I have some questions around Brisbane and the new runway. When did Airservices Australia commence, and then finalise, the standard terminal arrival route and the standard departure design for the new parallel runway integration into the Brisbane basin air space?
Mr Jason Harfield, Chief Executive Officer, Airservices Australia: I have to take the specifics on notice, but the finalisation of it would probably have been about 12 months before the opening of the runway, which would have been mid-last year. You are probably talking about around 2018-19. I will correct that if it is not correct.
Senator Chisholm also put further questions on notice. You can watch the hearing here:
Advocating to the Morrison government
Di, Kara and I have been gathering signatures for our local petition requesting that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Barnaby Joyce (previously the Hon Michael McCormack), clarify what options there are to reduce aircraft noise in our community. You can find the petition above.
We know there are many things we can’t change about the second runway and the aircraft noise we’re now experiencing. However, we understand that there are a number of decisions that are discretionary and which, if made differently, could help mitigate noise impacts.
So we wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister, requesting his response on a range of suggestions made by local residents about the options to reduce noise, and a proposed way forward to mitigate noise impacts.
When we finally received a response from the Deputy Prime Minister, it was, in our view, unsatisfactory.
You can read our letter, the list of locals' suggestions, and the Deputy Prime Minister's response here:
A change of minister, and a call for a public meeting and noise monitoring adequacy
In June 2021, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP was announced as the new Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, succeeding the Hon Michael McCormack MP. Terri Butler MP wrote to Barnaby Joyce to add to our previous calls for a lasting solution to aircraft noise. Ms Butler asked that, as the Minister, Mr Joyce advise of the steps he intended to take to address this issue.
You can read my letter here:
In July I wrote to Barnaby Joyce again and called for a public meeting involving a representative from the Morrison Government, Brisbane Airport Corporation and the relevant regulators. I also called for noise monitoring adequacy - I suggested an additional noise monitor to be set up, either at the top of Balmoral Hill or in Hawthorne.
You can read my second letter to Barnaby Joyce and his response below.
The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman review
In its report released in October 2021 the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman found:
1. Airservices' assessment of the environmental impact of the flight paths designed for the new runway at Brisbane Airport was largely compliant with its internal policies. There is insufficient evidence to find that it did not comply with the requirements of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
2. Airservices failed to engage effectively with the communities potentially affected by the new flight paths in contravention of its then applicable policy and contrary to best practice for community engagement.
3. Airservices did not provide full and complete information regarding aircraft noise to potentially affected communities.
The Morrison government's "advisory forum" announcement
Air Services is conducting a post-implementation review, following the new runway commencing operations. There is information about the review below.
After sustained pressure from the community the Morrison-Joyce government has now announced it will create a "Brisbane Airport Post Implementation Review Advisory Forum". This appears to be a win for our community, but it falls short of the permanent, strong, independent community forum that Labor MPs have called for. Again, there is information about our call, above.
The government says the new Advisory Forum is an "independent, community-based group for Airservices Australia to consult with during its Post Implementation Review of the airspace changes implemented for parallel runway operations."
Mr Ross Musgrove is the Independent Chair of the Forum, and its members are Hon Robert Borbidge AO, former Senator for Queensland Ms Claire Moore, Mr Nigel Chamier AM, and Professor Douglas Baker.
As mentioned above, along with fellow Brisbane-based Labor federal MPs I am still calling for a strong, independent, permanent Airport Community Forum for Brisbane residents.
As your local team we would appreciate your thoughts on the Morrison-Joyce government's recent announcement. You can let us know your thoughts using this form:
The Legacy Runway
The existing flight paths have been a concern to residents for a number of years now. When I was elected in 2014 a new Airport Master Plan was being produced (this has now been replaced with an updated 2020 Master Plan). I asked people to complete a survey that asked how important flight paths and aircraft noise was to them. I then took a range of responses and ideas from the survey results and entered into discussions with BAC and Airservices Australia.
I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister in the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, Hon Warren Truss MP and advocated for trialling a curfew to limit overnight noise, as this was a major concern for people in our electorate. The Deputy Prime Minister rejected this suggestion. I also put forward other alternatives such as limiting the number of planes that can be scheduled in an hour, and the requirement of firmer guidance in relation to using the bay where it’s possible to do so.
Over the years, local pilots and aviation experts have contacted me with their technical suggestions to mitigate aircraft noise, I brought these suggestions to BAC and I will continue to do this.
I have previously lobbied BAC to make sure its community support grants provided local schools with noise mitigation and by funding air-conditioning so the windows could be kept shut.
Air Services Post Implementation Review
In addition, as mentioned above, Airservices Australia has announced it will conduct a Post Implementation Review of the flight paths and airspace changes implemented to support parallel operations, and the associated aircraft noise impacts.
You can register for updates on their website.
They have said that community and industry suggestions for alternative flight paths and/or procedures for runway modes and noise abatement will form part of the review.
We welcome the review but it does not relieve the Morrison Government of the ultimate responsibility for aviation. At the end of the day the Minister is responsible, through the parliament, to the people, for this issue. The buck stops with the elected government, not unelected officials.
The Labor Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Hon Catherine King MP, wrote to the CEO of Airservices Australia to emphasise the importance of this review to both listen to community community feedback and provide solutions.
On 14 September 2021, I received correspondence from Airservices Australia stating they were opening registrations for community information sessions for the Post Implementation Review to be held in the following week.
These sessions were advertised on very short notice for dates that fall within the school holidays. I wrote to Airservices and the Deputy Prime Minister to advise them that this is not good enough, and that it undermines the credibility of the Post Implementation Review.
Airservices announced on 16 September 2021 that they will postpone the community information sessions until October during the school term, and provide at least two weeks' notice for the future dates.
Community consultation & technical workshop
In the lead-up to the opening of the second runway, I sought assurances from the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) that they would provide information to locals about the likely noise impacts, as well as opportunities to be heard about the new flight paths. BAC has at all times undertaken that they would provide up-to-date information to affected suburbs.
The Brisbane Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group (BACACG) is a consultative forum designed to bring together government, the aviation industry, and the community to discuss a range of topics including aircraft noise, airport developments, airport operations and Terminal access. The BACACG meets four times per year. I have always ensured that our community is represented on the forum. Until recently Mr Graeme Hill of Bulimba was a local community representative on the forum, our community representative is now Mr Ben O'Donnell of Balmoral.
After the November 2020 BACACG meeting it was decided that there would be a Technical Airspace Design Workshop. That workshop went ahead on Wednesday 24 February 2021, with representatives from Brisbane Airport Corporation, Airservices Australia, Virgin Australia, the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, BACACG, the Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance and the broader community.
Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance
The Brisbane Flight Path Community Alliance has been formed to bring together Brisbane residents who are concerned about aircraft noise.
Recently the BFPCA undertook a survey to understand noise impacts. You can read about their survey here. This group states that it is non-partisan. It is independent of us as your local representatives.
They presented a copy of the survey results to me, the Hon Di Farmer MP, and Cr Kara Cook, as local elected representatives. I then wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister to bring the survey to his attention.
You can read my letter, and the Deputy Prime Minister's response here:
The BFPCA held a meetup in Hawthorne Park in June 2021. As local representatives we were invited to attend that meetup. While there, I suggested that residents do three things:
1. Sign my petition
2. Write to Barnaby Joyce
4. Contribute to the Post Implementation Review - noting there is some skepticism about it in the local community.