Subject: Western Sydney Airport.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Many thanks for your time Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Ross.
GREENWOOD: Six billion dollars – is this the type of money that government really that has got issues with debt should be actually spending right now?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that this is an investment. If you look around Australia or indeed around the world, but you don’t have to look beyond Sydney airport, to see that airports can be extremely profitable and Western Sydney Airport, which will service right now 2.2 million people, but in the coming decades four million people – larger the populations combined of Perth, Adelaide and Hobart – deserves a first-class airport. It will be a catalyst for jobs and economic growth in Western Sydney and it will produce returns to government because of that economic activity in the broader sense.
GREENWOOD: In regards to the transport links, because I think everybody would acknowledge that no matter where you build an airport, and I mean Brisbane for example is going ahead with a lot of private investment to expand that airport, but there are already very good rail links into that airport. And if you go, say for example to Melbourne Airport, there has always been the vexed issue of not having a rail link to that airport. Sydney Airport has its own rail link. So rail is an absolute key to try and get people to and from this airport efficiently.
ALBANESE: That’s exactly right and it’s not just about the airport. The north-south link, essentially connecting up Rouse Hill in Sydney’s northwest, through to St Marys on the western line, through to Badgerys Creek and on to Leppington on the Bankstown south-west line and the Macarthur line, would open up all of that area for jobs and for economic activity. Just to the north of the airport there is the science park. Now that is being developed by the people who essentially run Steggles Chickens and they are looking at a research facility; they are looking at a precinct that will create 12,000 jobs, 4500 homes. It will have the first K-12 STEM school – science, technology, engineering and maths school – in Australia. There’s already been an MOU signed with the Catholic Education office. Now that will be an enormous bonus for Western Sydney for high-value jobs and we want kids from Campbelltown and from St Marys to be able to access that site. So this is not just about the airport; it’s about opening up that whole region. Sydney can’t function with the geography here in this beautiful city that I love. Its geography and its pluses in terms of its natural environment make it difficult to get around and we need to create jobs closer to where people live and that means jobs in Western Sydney.
GREENWOOD: So what you are telling me is it is highly likely that, given what Malcolm Turnbull has said today that the Federal Government will fund and build this airport without the Sydney Airport involved, it now means that there is likely to be bi-partisan sort of agreement in regards to the way Badgerys Creek is built?
ALBANESE: Look, when it comes to major infrastructure projects I think that what the Australian public wants is outcomes. They are sick of bickering and the second Sydney Airport has failed in the past because of political issues. It always made sense, but politics has gotten in the way. Now it needs a decision of Government, but it also needs a decision of Opposition to put the national interest first. That is something that I am determined to do. I want to do it over a range of other issues – High Speed Rail and other infrastructure development, developing public transport around our capital cities to deal with urban congestion – because if it becomes a source of politics, then basically these projects take longer than one term of government. So you can have decisions made, a risk in terms of sovereign risk to capital investment. That scares off investors. That sends a bad message as well. The land around Badgerys Creek was reserved way back in the 1980s by the Hawke Government. They did the right thing. That means that for the rail corridor for example, most of the land it will travel though on the north-south corridor is owned by the Federal or the State Government. Now the value of that land will be uplifted significantly by having public transport access.
GREENWOOD: I’ve got to tell you it’s always great to have you on the program Anthony. I’ve got to say many people around the country tonight, hearing this, will be very pleased that politics can be set aside to make certain a very significant piece of national infrastructure that has been fought over for 70 years can finally come to fruition. Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister and good to have you on the program Anthony.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.