Mar 13, 2012

Question without notice – Sydney’s long term aviation needs

JOHN MURPHY (Member for Reid) My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.  Will the minister update the House on the need for a second Sydney airport to support jobs and build the nation for the future?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Reid for his question.  This month the Federal and NSW governments received the most comprehensive independent study ever done into Sydney’s and, therefore, Australia’s aviation needs.

The report makes it clear that Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later.  Passenger numbers in the Sydney region will more than double up to 2035.  Sydney airport is increasingly at capacity and its peak period is growing.  Its size and land transport problems mean that the airport cannot deal with these increases.  The need to act is clear.  By the year 2035 the cost to GDP of turning away flights will be $6 billion.

This is an issue about jobs and our economy.

International experience shows that airports create 1,000 jobs for every one million passengers.  Without action, growing congestion will hurt productivity as flights are turned away and those that make it face longer delays.  We are already seeing the impact on Sydney.

And because Sydney is the hub, a delay in Sydney disrupts the entire national aviation system.  We know that four out of 10 flights nationally fly into and out of Sydney.

Despite the speed of modern aircraft, airlines today schedule up to 25 minutes extra for their Sydney to Melbourne flights than they did in 1965.  Think about that.  In 1965 they scheduled 65 minutes to go from Sydney to Melbourne.  Today, in spite of all the technological improvements, it is 90 minutes.  That is having an impact on our productivity.  It is a handbrake on growth.

And the delays will get worse because Sydney is a hub. A delay in Sydney has knock-on effects across the network. That is why it is a national issue and why it needs to be a bipartisan issue.

The Daily Telegraph captured this point in today’s editorial, which was appropriately titled ‘If it’s built the jobs will follow’.  The editorial said that a second Sydney airport:

“…would bring employment to a new generation of engineers and airline staff.  It would deliver jobs across almost every area of commerce.  It would help maintain Sydney’s prominence as a hub for business.”

This is a critical issue.  It is hard.  The politics of it are tough.  But we need to deal with this sooner rather than later, because it will have a huge impact.  I thank those people across the chamber who have entered into a constructive discussion – and who I know are also entering into discussions with their NSW colleagues – about the importance of us making a decision and moving forward on this vital issue for the national economy.