Abbott said that clearing congestion around Sydney airport and using other existing airports, such as Richmond, would be easier than building a second major airport at Badgerys Creek, Wilton or even Canberra. No new airport would be operational for many years, he told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
Richmond is an interesting option. The Tourism Industry Council NSW’s general manager, Andrew Jefferies, has already advocated the Richmond RAAF base.
Jefferies points out Richmond has been in operation since 1916 but its operations have steadily declined over the past 20 years with the RAAF moving squadrons to other parts of Australia.
“The joint Federal and New South Wales Government study identified that the RAAF would welcome the commencement of commercial operations at Richmond,” Jefferies said.
“Its location is perfect for low-cost carriers in the same mould as Avalon, Newcastle and the Gold Coast. With a rail line adjacent to the airport and planning for the State Government’s North West Rail linked to the Richmond line, this option could cater for around 1 million passengers a year and be successful in relieving the capacity constraints at Sydney.”
It certainly sounds a better option than Wilton.
Badgerys Creek is acknowledged to be the best site for any second Sydney Airport, as all studies consistently reaffirm. But politicians fear a public backlash may affect marginal seats so don’t dare to built it there.
Wilton, while not the best site, is the choice of Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. How long Labor will be in power to push that view, however, is open to speculation.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey backs a second Sydney airport. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, former Prime Minister Paul Keating and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore are among those who advocate Badgerys Creek, saying politicians should just go ahead and build it at the obvious best site.
Jefferies recently called for common sense to prevail.
“We believe the current debate has been too heavily focused on politics and marginal seats and one that ignores the realities and needs of the New South Wales economy, the wider tourism industry and the operational realities of Sydney Airport.”
Jefferies also called for the movement cap at Sydney Airport to be relaxed, something Abbott might have been hinting at.
“Sydney Airport’s operations are artificially restricted by a cap of just 80 movements an hour,” Jefferies said.
“The recent joint Federal and New South Wales Government report highlighted these restrictions and identified the airport’s natural capacity of around 90 movements per hour. A simple amendment to this legislation in the Federal Parliament could be moved by the Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, giving Sydney Airport the additional capacity to build additional flights and allow Government the time to plan and develop a second Airport in the Sydney basin.”
Written by : Peter Needham