A quarter of a century ago, the federal Labor government decided to build a second airport in Sydney at Badgerys Creek. It spent the next few years acquiring land there. However, the Liberal Part was opposed to the Badgerys Creek location and when the Howard Liberal government was elected in 1996, this policy was scrapped. Later, Labor under Simon Crean also dropped its support for Badgerys Creek in the early 00s. The federal government still owns the land at Badgerys Creek, but both parties officially oppose a new airport there.
Last month, a joint NSW-Federal report was released recommending Badgeries Creek as the preferred site for a second airport in Sydney, with Wilton as the next best option. Instantly, the parties repeated their positions. Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party said his preferred location was Wilton. Meanwhile NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell of the Liberal Party said he wanted no new airports in the Sydney basin at all, preferring instead to build a high speed rail link to an upgraded Canberra Airport. Mr O’Farrell’s proposal to use Canberra Airport has been dismissed by Federal Liberal Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey who also wants an airport built at Wilton.
No one wants an airport in their backyard, it’s simple NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard). What is strange is that Mr O’Farrell has adopted a more extreme version of NIMBYism, something fellow Liberal, and Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbot called BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. Every year, more and more people move into areas that could hold a second airport, and the longer the wait before action is taken the larger the voter backlash will be.
The reality is that Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport will reach capacity by 2027 according to the joint report, or 2045 according to the company that operates Kingsford-Smith Airport. The clock is ticking, and inaction is no longer an option.
“If action is not taken quickly, the chance to secure the future of aviation for the Sydney region may be lost altogether…the option of doing nothing is no longer available and the costs of deferring action are unacceptable” – Joint report
Not only that, but it makes economic sense to build a second airport somewhere in Western Sydney to provide jobs both directly and indirectly to a region that will hold half of Sydney’s population in coming decades:
“[turning western Sydney into] one big housing estate with no economic drivers’ [is nonsense]” – Chris Brown, co-author of the joint report
Lenore Taylor wrote the best piece I’ve read on this issue, for anyone looking for additional reading on it.