Airport forum not on Council’s agenda

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Ben Price

Penrith Mayor John Thain threatened to clear the Council chambers on Monday night after anti-airport hecklers continued to shout abuse during proceedings.

Protesters opposed to the Western Sydney Airport descended on Council’s chambers to see whether their calls for a public forum would finally be realised.

But in what is being labelled a “cop out”, they were left disappointed again after Councillors resolved to ask the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) to hold an information session instead.

Labor Councillor Ben Price disagreed with the majority stance, saying a forum was “overdue” and it was time for Council to face its constituents.

“We owe it to the people of Penrith to be totally transparent,” he said.

Cr Marcus Cornish agreed.

“We’re supposed to be here to represent the people, not to avoid them,” he said.

Marcus Cornish. Photo: Melinda Jane

However, Councillor Greg Davies said no amount of “jumping up and down” would stop the airport being built, adding it would be a “no airport forum” and achieve “absolutely nothing” because the information will be “drowned out”.

“I’m not 100 per cent behind it but the decision has been made,” he said.

“Now we need to make sure we don’t get thrown under the bus.”

But action groups on the ground claim Penrith residents are poorly informed and need “real information”, not for the “gloss” dished out by DIRD or media spin.

“It’s got to cover the negatives and the positives,” President of No Badgerys Creek Airport Inc Andrea Grieve stressed.

Cr Crameri, who has repeatedly requested Council hold a public forum, said major ramifications, such as potentially deadly air pollution from trucks carting diesel to the planes, has been swept under the rug.

Councillor Aaron Duke said it was clear from the age of the members in the gallery that young people’s voices were lost in the debate, and suggested looking at other options than “rocking up to a forum”.

Kevin Crameri. Photo: Melinda Jane

Council believes its community engagement activities, which have so far included social media posts, community newspaper articles, a dedicated webpage, mayoral columns and media releases, and postcard distribution, among others, are “far superior” in terms of their reach than a forum would be.

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  • Stephanie Toohey

    They’re community engagement has been nothing but one-way spin. This council needs to listen to it’s community and not dismiss the very valid comcerns raised around noise pollution, environmental pollution, jobs, knock effects on infrastructure as well as the disgraceful lack of curfew. They should be ashamed.

    • Pam West

      Well-said!

  • Pam West

    Shame on Penrith Council. When time passes we will see who beniftted from the sale of land, and whose lives were destroyed. Who will get the jobs? Not the people paying the price, I’d bet. This Council once stood strong against the then Howard government to stop what they knew then was a foul dumping of fuel tanks on our clogged roads, fuel on our backyards and noise on our children all day and night. No amount of infrastucture will counteract what’s coming… This time round there’s no leadership from the Council despite the brave voices trying to be heard. The information will be “drowned out”? Really? What are they really afraid of? The Environmental Impact Statement can’t even tell us flight paths or from where the jobs will come.. What we need is information. What the people of Penrith need is a real Mayor and a real Council to lead the cry for information and equity with the people of the city who get an airport and a sea for dumping.

  • Wally Cox

    Shame on Penrith COUNCILLORS! When we witness the “contributions” from councillors whose first allegiance is to the major political parties OVER their responsibilities to the people of Penrith who elected in very serious situations like the imposition of bad political decisions like the B.C.A. The people are entitled to the facts, like the previous reasons that caused B.C.A. to be taken OFF the agenda. Thank goodness we have one Independent councillor!

  • Marilyn Riedy

    Too late when the Nepean/ Hawkesbury river system is contaminated from run off from the airport! Many airports in Australia have been contaminated by fire fighting foam but at Badgery’s Creek when it rains toxic spilt fuel contaminants will wash into the creeks and into the Nepean River! Remember this is a flood plain! Shame on you Penrith Council! Take a trip to Botany Bay and see the oil slicks on the surface of the water!