SUBJECTS: Second airport for Sydney; Australia-China MOU on infrastructure
DAVID OLDFIELD: Anthony Albanese joins us on this matter on whether or not there should be a second airport. Now, as you know, the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, came out very, very strongly on not supporting an airport and saying that no one should be particularly surprised at that because that’s how he went to the election.
Now, for a lot of people this is disturbing. For others, depending on where the noise might impact you or where the airport itself being built might impact you, you wouldn’t be too fussed, you wouldn’t be too worried.
Barry O’Farrell says he’s a fan of a fast train to Canberra. I don’t think he intends on getting on one, by the way. He’s not a Lone Ranger when it comes to not wanting a second airport.
But Anthony Albanese, the Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, says there should be one. In an extensive article in today’s Daily Telegraph, he says we must have a second airport sooner rather than later, and he’s been good enough to give us his time.
Hi, Anthony. How are you going?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day, David. Not too bad.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Carmel well?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: She’s actually overseas in the US at the moment.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Good for her.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: So it’s just the boys in our household at the moment.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Just the boys, just the boys. Now, for those who are listening that might wonder about that, of course, Carmel Tebbutt is the very happy wife of Anthony Albanese, which is why I asked the question. And I was in the upper house with Carmel for some time and she indeed was the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party here in New South Wales for some time.
Anthony, where do you envisage this second airport being located?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The report that we commissioned, it was a joint report between the Federal Government and the State Government, made up of seven experts. No politicians. We wanted to get an outcome which…
DAVID OLDFIELD: Is that because no politicians are experts?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We wanted to get an outcome that was free of political interference, so we said, go away, have a look at not just the aviation needs, but also the land transport and associated infrastructure needs of Sydney.
DAVID OLDFIELD: [Interrupts – indistinct]
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What it favoured was it said there are two sites that could work – Wilton and Badgerys Creek. And certainly the Government has said that we should have further consideration of Wilton in terms of a scoping study of the issues around it. Of course, any airport will be subject to an environmental impact statement.
But the report made it very clear that without a second airport, we really have a handbrake on productivity not just for Sydney but for the whole nation.
Sydney’s landmass of where the airport is is really constrained. It’s one-third of the size of Brisbane. Melbourne’s two and a half times bigger than Sydney Airport in terms of landmass. We know that it’s already reached. its peak period which are growing from – it used to be just between 8.00 and 9.00 in the morning; now it’s more like from 6.30 to 10.30, and that will continue to grow out.
We know that as an island continent, we’ve relied upon aviation to connect us with each other across the different parts of our vast land and also with the world. So we can’t sort of pretend that this problem will go away. It’s been delayed for a long time. Governments have ducked making decisions. We think that the report needs to be considered on its merits.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Now, certainly passenger numbers are said to more than double between now and 2030 from 40 million to 87 million and then double again by 2060.
In your article today, you say this issue must be beyond short-term politics; it needs a mature bipartisan approach. Is that because, frankly, nobody wants the airport in their area so you need both sides on board?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: One of the issues of infrastructure, as you know David, is that whenever you build something, you have some dislocation. You can’t build infrastructure without having issues raised, be it a rail line or a road or let alone an airport.
We do need to look at the national economic interest, and the particular interests of Sydney. With infrastructure, of course come jobs, and that’s the key issue here – jobs and economic activity.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Now, surely one of the issues though, however, is that recent reports have indicated that the concern is for who will get the jobs with various workforces suggested as being imported into Australia. And I note there is a suggestion this morning that you met with Chinese officials, Chinese government officials, about transport projects. Is this something to do with the new airport or another infrastructure matter have in mind?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it’s not at all. The meeting this morning was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding about cooperation when it comes to infrastructure. We know that already there’s considerable investment from Australia into China. I went on a road that was owned by Macquarie, the owners of Sydney Airport when I went to Shanghai and Guangzhou in December last year. And we know there’s already significant Chinese investment here in Australia. It’s just about making sure that we get that infrastructure cooperation. So it was a positive meeting today with the Commerce Minister Chen.
DAVID OLDFIELD: Anthony, grateful for your time, as always. All the best.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, David.