Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has committed to making a decision on proceeding with a second Sydney Airport within his first term of government, should his Liberal-National Coalition win next month’s federal election.
Daily Telegraph chief political reporter Simon Benson asked Abbott about the Coalition’s views on a second Sydney airport during Sunday evening’s leaders’ debate between Abbott and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
“I accept that we do need to do something about airport capacity serving Sydney. I absolutely accept that. We cannot go on for another decade the way we have over the last six years and we’ve had a government which has not advanced us one inch, one yard over the last six years on this. Just a few weeks ago the Infrastructure Minister said that a decision would be made in the next term. Well, I will make a decision on this in a term of government, should I get it.”
The Prime Minister was less committal.
“On Sydney Airport, there’s a massive debate about where any second airport should be. I’m from Queensland, I’m not from Sydney. I hear contending arguments in terms of where or if such a new airport should be located. This lies with the Infrastructure Minister. I’m sure recommendations will come forward at the right time and that appropriate decisions will be made on when the existing site at Kingsford Smith reaches its capacity.”
The questioning came after the Daily Telegraph last week reported on the formation of the Western Sydney Airport Alliance, which has grouped together business, union and community groups to advocate for the construction of a second Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.
“Start digging. We face significant challenges in employment, there are 200,000 people travelling outside the region every day to work,” Sydney Chamber of Commerce Western Sydney president David Borger told the newspaper.
“We have an alliance of business, unions and the community sector calling on all parties to adopt a position of supporting an airport at Badgerys Creek. It would be a game changer.”
Late last month Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese had said he was “absolutely determined” to see the start of construction of a second Sydney Airport within three years should the Labor government be re-elected. That pledge was soon dismissed by Sydney Airport chairman Max Moore-Wilton.
“”There is not one recognised business person who has experience in infrastructure that supports the waste of scarce infrastructure capital to build a second Sydney airport within the time frames that Mr Albanese announced,” Moore-Wilton was quoted by Fairfax Media as saying.
”I don’t know how many studies have to be undertaken to show there is no immediate need for a second Sydney airport.”