ANTHONY ALBANESE: There’s a report on the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph concerning the review that the Government, along with the New South Wales Government, have commissioned into aviation capacity for Sydney. That’s a report that’s yet to be completed, it’s a report that will be handed to myself as the Federal Transport Minister, and the New South Wales Premier, in the coming fortnight.
What we know already is that Sydney does need a second airport, sooner rather than later, that the pressure is on in terms of the capacity at Sydney Airport, particularly during the peak periods, the peak periods have grown longer and longer. What that means is more delays in terms of once there is an event in any airport around Australia, because a majority of the planes go through Sydney as the hub, it has a knock-on effect throughout the aviation system. There’s a cost to business of that. There’s also a cost to business of not having a second airport for Sydney, and it’s been estimated that it could cost in the order of 70,000 jobs, the lack of capacity which is there.
The report today suggests as well that there may be a recommendation about the curfew and the cap at Sydney Airport, and also about access of regional airlines to Sydney Airport. This Government is absolutely committed to maintaining the existing cap of 80 movements per hour, and the existing curfew at Sydney Airport as well as maintaining access for regional airlines at Sydney Airport. That’s why we need a long term solution for Sydney’s aviation needs, not trying to squeeze more out of the lemon.
It’s understandable that the owners of Sydney Airport want to protect their monopoly position, but this is about the interests of Sydney, the interests of New South Wales, and the national interest. That’s why we’ve commissioned the report.
QUESTION: So Minister, are you ruling out then increasing the curfew?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am absolutely ruling out any change to the curfew at Sydney Airport, and any increase in the cap of 80 movements per hour at Sydney Airport.
QUESTION: So that’ll come as great news to the people who live near Sydney Airport, absolutely, but what about in terms of the construction of a second airport, I mean surely we have to get this moving?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We do need to get this moving, and once we’ve received the report it’ll be considered by both Governments. What I’ve said before is that this needs to be an issue that’s above partisan politics, you’ll need cooperation of the Federal Government, the State Government, and indeed, because of the long term nature of it, you’ll need cooperation across the spectrum, and I’m hopeful, I’ve certainly had informal discussions with some of my Coalition colleagues here, I’m hopeful that we can get an outcome that’s in the interests of everyone in New South Wales, and the nation.
Aircraft noise is one issue, but it’s really about the national economic interest, what the costs are, if we say to the growing regions, such as China, India, the potential that’s there, to have much greater tourism activity, and people want to use Sydney as the gateway to the nation, if we say to them, no, we don’t want you to come to Australia, we don’t want that economic activity, we don’t want those jobs, then there really are dire economic consequences, let alone the domestic consequences when you have delays at the airport that occur right now. People would be aware that as growth has come back into the system, the delays are more and more, when you have a delay at Sydney Airport, it affects every other airport around the nation as well.
QUESTION: What are the locations under consideration?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: There was no brief given to the committee, this is arm’s length from Government, it’s a report to Government, I understand that they are looking at more than 20 sites, but we’ll receive the report, we’ll release it publicly, I’ve committed to that, we gave them no restrictions whatsoever. What we wanted was for people from the business community, people who are experts in terms of aviation, as well as the New South Wales Planning and Transport Departments, and my Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport, to have a look at this without constraints.
Politics of course does play a role in these issues, that’s inevitable, but we need to make sure that people are aware that there is a cost of inaction and delay, when it comes to a second Sydney airport, particularly given the long lead times, you can’t have a second airport without having a considerable examination, including obviously an Environmental Impact Statement, and other studies as well.
QUESTION: Are you foreshadowing any budget announcements?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’m not foreshadowing budget announcements on the doors, what I’m doing is responding to the report today, by putting out there exactly what the time frame is, as I said, I’ll receive the report in a fortnight, clearly there’s been some discussion from people who’ve been preparing the report, I haven’t seen it yet, because it doesn’t exist, it hasn’t been finalised, but I look forward to Government considering the report, when we receive it.
QUESTION: How long will it take you to digest the report, and when’s your time line on reporting back on its findings, and also, when do you think we will see a second airport, like how many years down the track?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well look, I’ll wait till I receive the report before I comment on it, I’m advised that it’s expected I’d receive the report in the coming fortnight.
QUESTION: You just said that polling in the days leading up to Julia Gillard taking the Prime Minister…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t comment on internal polling, but I’m a member of the National Executive Committee, if you understand the workings of the Labor Party, you know that that gives with it, certain access.
QUESTION: Is anyone in the Labor caucus currently distributing polling that suggests that Kevin Rudd is more popular than Julia Gillard?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No.
QUESTION: Rob Oakeshott this morning on TV said as far as the Labor leadership goes, bring it on. What’s your response to that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Rob Oakeshott’s not a member of the Labor caucus, we have a Labor leader.
QUESTION: He also said [indistinct].
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, we have a Labor leader, you know, that was settled in 2010.
QUESTION: Do you think Kim Sattler should resign?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve never met Kim Sattler, I don’t even know her, resign from what?
QUESTION: It must be irritating though that Kevin Rudd won’t just say no, I’m not interested in being Prime Minister?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Oh look, this is a building with 150 people, probably 140 of them think they should be Prime Minister.
QUESTION: Why is it any different now to what it was in 2010, you say we’ve got a leader now, it was decided in 2010, well in 2010 you also had a leader, and…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well those issues are that of the historical record. What I’m concerned about is the present and future. Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.