OPEN FOR BUSINESS – At last a government acts on second Sydney airport: Badgerys Creek site gets the go-ahead

Issues & Trends – April 2014

At last a government acts on second Sydney airport:
Badgerys Creek site gets the go-ahead

AUSTRALIA’S tourism and travel industry has warmly welcomed the Abbott Government’s decision to grasp the thorny issue of a second Sydney airport with its announcement that construction will start at Badgerys Creek in 2016.

For decades governments have dithered and procrastinated over the politically sensitive issue even as the country’s major gateway, the curfew-restricted Kingsford Smith Airport with its separated domestic and international terminals, grew ever more congested.

Construction of the new airport is “unequivocally great news for Australia’s $107 billion tourism industry,” said Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Ken Morrison.

“After decades of debate, studies and investigation, we congratulate the Abbott Government,” he said. “We are also happy to hear the Prime Minister’s comments that there are no plans to implement a curfew at Badgerys Creek.

“Importantly, the Government also recognises the need to invest in transport infrastructure to serve a Badgerys Creek airport and Western Sydney more broadly.”

But Morrison was critical of the lack of commitment to a rail link to Badgerys Creek. “It makes no sense to build a new airport in Western Sydney which is not connected to Sydney’s rail system,” he said.

“Reserving the corridor and enabling work for the rail link is not enough – especially with no funding attached.”

Morrison also stressed that the announcement should not deflect attention from pressing needs at the existing airports at Mascot.

“We need to take steps now to ensure we get the most out of the existing infrastructure to support the continuing growth of the visitor economy,” he said.

“We are urging the government to commit to modernising operating restrictions at Sydney Airport to ensure that it can meet the growing demand for flights in and out of Sydney.”

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the second airport was a vital piece of economic infrastructure for Australia and Badgerys Creek was clearly the right site.

“Qantas has long supported the building of a second airport at Badgerys Creek, as have a number of detailed studies,” he said.

“The role of second airports has been well-established in several of the world’s major capitals. Sydney is the key gateway for air traffic in and out of Australia and the benefits of having two major airports will be felt nationwide.

“Airports are key pieces of infrastructure that facilitate a huge amount of economic activity, and they take a lot of time to plan and build. We look forward to being part of this process.”

The Qantas statement reiterated the findings of a “comprehensive” Federal-NSW study released in 2012. It confirmed a second airport will be needed by 2030 and effectively ruled out any location other than Badgerys Creek.

Meanwhile, the carrier said, it will continue to work closely with Sydney Airport “to maximise the use of this key asset, including through the rollout of its recently approved Master Plan 2033”.

An indication of how the international tourism industry views the decision came from the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Bangkok-based chief executive Martin Craigs who applauded “a victory for conviction politics over “Not In My Back Yard, NIMBYism”.

After “years of myopic dialogue and dubious debate”, he said, the Badgerys Creek decision sends “a clear message to the rest of Asia Pacific and beyond, that Australia is well and truly ‘open for business’.”


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