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History of Bankstown and objections to lease/ sale

History of Bankstown and objections to lease/ sale

There have been a series of objections to the operation/ sale/lease of the secondary airports for a number of years. Most of these objections go to the way management:

  • Has increased costs;
  • Pushed out operators;
  • Been difficult to deal with;
  • Over used legal methods and
  • Tried to claim assets to which they are not entitled.

BAL [Bankstown Airport Limited] is a classic at this, with part of the operation coming under the management of the Corporate undertakers – Korda Mentha some years ago.

The senators have tried to get proper management, but the slippery people in the Department have avoided giving a final answer. Archerfield operators have launched an action in the AAT, which awaits an answer, surely this cannot be too far away.

Further comments have been made on this site.

Senate estimates February 2015 – to watch and the programme is:   rrat programme.pdf


Attached are some relevant documents from the senate, which ask some questions back in October 2011.

Estimates (supplementary)
The Department

Senator FAWCETT: Gentlemen, a number of individuals and aviation associations have criticised—in fact, some have condemned in quite strong words—both the minister and the department for their handling of the issues around commercial development on Bankstown and Archerfield airports. I would like to know if you would make an opening statement about how you see the department’s role in interacting with airport operators, the minister and CASA in terms of that process.

Mr Mrdak: I would be interested in seeing what those comments are. I do not believe that those comments are in any way reflective of the regulatory arrangements and the actual situation at a number of airports, particularly those. I am aware of recent criticism of decisions, but I do not think that some of the media commentary reflects the facts.

In essence our role is set out in the act and also under the airport leases, which provide for the way in which we go about ensuring that the airport master plan provides for growth at the airports for aeronautical and non-aeronautical activity and to make sure that demand is being met. We also have a range of statutory requirements in relation to building control, environmental regimes and operations of the airport that we administer. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority obviously has responsibility for safety at the airports.
In relation to particular planning matters there are obviously differences of views at times between those of the airport operators in relation to development and those of some of the customers at that airport, particularly general aviation customers. I would characterise that at times as being robust, but I do not believe I would agree at any time that the act, the regs and the statutory requirements have not been met.


By October 2014, many of these answers are shown to be wanting:

Rural & Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
Supplementary Budget Estimates
Infrastructure and Regional Development
Question no.: 213
Program: n/a
Division/Agency: Aviation and Airports
Topic: On-Airport Planning
Proof Hansard Pages: 4-5 (20 October 2014)
Senator Heffernan asked:

CHAIR: I have a brief here on what has happened since World War II, when Commonwealth—only development was on airfields. That has given way now to a lot of private development. What generally are the lease arrangements for those private developments for the land?

Mr Wilson: We hold the lease arrangements for 21 of the airports in Australia. The ones you indicated before are ours: Moorabbin, Bankstown, Archerfield and the like. So we both regulate and are the lessee. The private sector leases that land from the Commonwealth.

CHAIR: What is the tenure on those subleases to the private developer?

Mr Wilson: It is 49 years, with an option for 50.

CHAIR: What is the protection for the aviation industry if some of those developments impinge on the safe operating capacity of an airfield? It happens by increments. Do you have the capacity to knock the building down without compensation?

Mr Mrdak: We control the development through the master plans and also the development plans. We are the building regulator on airport. In relation to developments on airport that may impinge on safety, then clearly we and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have a role. With developments off airport, we are reliant on the powers of the state and local planning authorities in relation to developments that may intrude on some of the surfaces. There are some powers that CASA has in relation to immediate safety risks of certain structures. But largely we are dependent upon the planning and development powers of the state and local governments off airport sites.

Mr Wilson: We do have additional powers that enable us to ensure that developments around the airport do not impinge on the OLS or on PANS-OPS—so that they do not impinge on the safe operation of aviation around those airports. That provides us with the capacity to restrict developments. The responsibility for undertaking the process in regard to that development sits with the individual airport operator; so they would start the process. We at the end of the day, however, hold the delegation and the decision-making in terms of a development that would impact on aviation services. …

CHAIR: This document has some serious propositions. Obviously it is a temptation for people; it is a lot of land. As long as it is done with maintaining a viable airport, okay; but, where that becomes blurred, it becomes a danger.

Mr Mrdak: We would be happy to provide a briefing to the committee. The on airport planning is a very transparent process, through the master plan process and the building control process. But I am happy to provide further details to the committee.

Advice is being sought from the Committee Secretariat regarding the provision of a briefing.


Questions on Notice: 20th October 2014 – released 19th February 2015


QON – Air Services



Readings from the press, particularly from the Sydney Morning Herald on the matter are worth a read.

Sydney Morning Herald articles

and the full Senate Hansard for a read:

2011, 2012 Hansard on Bankstown and other issues

QON – Aviation and Airports – october 2014

QON – CASA – october 2014

QON – ASA – october 2014

QON – ATSB – october 2014

QON – Aviation and Airports – october 2014





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