SUBJECTS: Second airport for Sydney; High Speed Rail; Tralee housing development under flight paths at Canberra Airport
MARK PARTON: Let’s go to Anthony Albanese who’s been making his views pretty clear about the second airport argument. This has been bubbling along for far too long. And obviously there are those here in Canberra who are pushing for a very fast train link and to make Canberra a sort of, you know, an almost – a Clayton’s second Sydney Airport.
Minister Albanese joins us right now. Thanks for coming on at short notice; we appreciate it.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No worries Mark. The wonders of Twitter.
MARK PARTON: Oh it’s great – it’s great.
Now it’s your belief that whatever happens here, after a period of time we have to get a second airport genuinely in Sydney.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. You can’t have a situation whereby… As an island continent separated from the rest of the world, and with long distances between us, we’ve relied upon aviation historically. And the idea that you fly into Sydney and get off in Canberra is a bit like buying a ticket to New York City but getting off at Washington DC. I think people would, when they got to the old travel agent, shake their head at that. That’s not to say that Canberra Airport isn’t important. It’s also not to say that the issue of high-speed rail is something that is certainly worthy of consideration. And the Federal Government’s got a study into that underway.
MARK PARTON: I’ve been in the media for 30 years, and for pretty much all of that time we’ve been arguing about these two things: about a second airport in Sydney and about a very fast train link which, you know, whether it includes Canberra or not.
Look, as a media commentator, I almost get the feeling that we’ll still be talking about them a decade from now.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m an Infrastructure Minister who’s determined to get some of these big issues dealt with. It’s true that it’s been talked about for too long. But what this report shows, and importantly, it’s a 3200 page report, it’s the most comprehensive study ever done. It’s a joint study between the Federal Department and the State Department of Transport heads, the state Planning Department head was on the committee, the Business Council of Australia CEO – seven senior people. No politicians, no political interference.
It is a report that says Sydney needs a second airport, sooner rather than later. A report that says the consequences are there for jobs and economic growth – not just for Sydney but for the nation because Sydney is the gateway into Australia for many overseas guests.
MARK PARTON: But of course, the…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s absolutely vital.
MARK PARTON: The great problem that we’ve got obviously is that I just can’t see that the powers-that-be in New South Wales are ever going to come up with a location that suits everybody. It’s just not going to happen. I mean, is it’s not going to happen at Badgerys Creek, is it?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You won’t get any infrastructure project that doesn’t create some issues. The extraordinary thing about Barry O’Farrell talking about Canberra is, of course, that the Tralee development has been under consideration for a period of time. It’s still before the New South Wales Department of Planning. That’s about putting houses under the flight path to Canberra Airport. The Federal Government have made it very clear, since the previous federal government was there objecting to this proposal, and the state Government hasn’t rejected it yet. So there’s a bit of a contradiction there.
MARK PARTON: So as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, are you saying that if Tralee goes ahead, if we start seeing houses go up Tralee, the whole ball game changes?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What I’m saying is that common sense tells you – and one of the things in the report is about the protection of flight paths – if you’re talking about aircraft noise, what you are talking about is where you have a corridor upon approach to Canberra Airport that currently is residential-free. It doesn’t make any sense at all to put houses under that flight path.
MARK PARTON: Before I let you go I’ve got to ask you about these Newspolls because, it’s another week and another week of pretty bad polls. Mate, this must be major concern for federal Labor – the distaste for Labor basically stretches right across the country.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: There’s nothing new in today’s polls. They’re a summary of past polls. So this is milking the cow for all it’s worth. We would prefer obviously to see polls that showed 100 per cent of people were going to vote Labor. We know we’re going through difficult times, but we’re getting on with the job. Certainly in terms of my own approach to my portfolio, we’ve got a big agenda. Just in the last sitting of Parliament we passed safe rates for truck drivers. It’s been one of those issues that’s been talked about for decades as well. We’ve actually done it. That’ll make a difference to road safety for all who use our roads.
MARK PARTON: But is there a thought of, gee we better get this done in a hurry because we don’t have much time?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Not at all. What there’s a thought to do is to ensure that we put out good policy and good government. And that once of course the carbon price comes in on 1 July, all of the measures providing household assistance kick in then as well. Tony Abbott’s been running around saying the sky is falling. Guess what? It won’t fall. The sun will come up and life will go on. And we’ll start transitioning to a carbon-constrained economy. That’s necessary.
I think the sort of scare campaigns, whilst effective in the short-term, history shows us that in the longer run, people are smarter than that. And certainly, I think we just have to continue doing our job.
MARK PARTON: Albo, thanks for responding to our tweet this morning. It’s good to get you on air.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: My pleasure mate.
MARK PARTON: Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.