August 18, 1988

Article at The Sydney Morning Herald

NEWS | Government takes heliport decision away from Moore

WILSON da SILVA

 The Premier, Mr Greiner, is believed to have intervened in the Pyrmont heliport controversy and taken the issue out of the hands of the Minister for the Environment, Mr Moore. 

Last week a spokesman for Mr Moore said that the final decision would rest with Mr Moore.

However, yesterday a spokesman for the Minister for Transport, Mr Baird, said the decision would now be taken to him before being submitted to Cabinet

A delegation of Balmain residents and Leichhardt aldermen, concerned about the proposal, had arranged to see Mr Moore next week, but the meeting was cancelled and they were told to refer further inquiries to Mr Baird's office.

One government source said the transfer had occured after Mr Greiner had intervened. Spokesmen for Mr Baird and Mr Moore denied that Mr Moore had been rebuffed.

The Eastern Herald last week reported that Mr Moore had promised residents the final decision on the limited heliport - which he calls a helistop - would rest with him, and that he might refuse it despite what recommendation the State Pollution Control Commission (SPCC) made.

The SPCC is studying the likely noise effects on homes in the east Balmain area.

Reacting to a previous story in which residents charged Mr Moore with having betrayed them, a spokesman told The Eastern Herald: "His previous opposition to heliports in Pyrmont and Darling Point still stands. He hasn't betrayed anybody, that's just ridiculous and emotive.

"If he can't be convinced that it won't be of harm to the residents, then there will be no helistop."

The promise has been effectively negated by Mr Moore now having to submit his recommendations to Mr Baird, who will then take it to Cabinet.

Ms Heather Stewart, a resident and member of the delegation, was upset at the transfer of responsibilities.

"This is a dirty trick in my opinion," she said. "Moore had sympathy for the case of the residents. It's obvious he's not prepared to fight in favour of a heliport, so they've given it to someone who will."

Another resident said he feared the matter had been taken out of Mr Moore's hands to facilitate its approval.

"It would be in line with the Government wanting the heliport there no matter what the hell anyone else thinks," he said.

Mr Moore has repeatedly stated his opposition to the siting of a heliport where it would adversely affect residential areas. He was particularly vocal in Opposition to the former Government's siting of a heliport in Pyrmont, and demonstrated alongside Balmain residents in 1985. The former Premier, Mr Wran, eventually closed down the heliport.

The proposal has come under fire from residents, councils, maritime unions, and local State MPs.

Even the Balmain branch of the Liberal Party - Mr Moore's own party - has registered its opposition.

A Liberal alderman on Leichhardt Council, Mr Geoff Courtney, said residents remembered too well the "antics" of the pilots at the former heliport.

"Pilots would take short cuts and fly low over residential areas - they were cowboys," he said. "I'm just afraid this will be the thin edge of the wedge.

"They say only 16 movements in and 16 out during the day, but I can see a 24-hour service with bigger choppers and a lot more of them."