One of the dumbest reports ever delivered on the chronically poor performance of NSW Tourism is headline news this morning in Sydney, calling for a “fast train” to a new international airport at Williamtown north of Newcastle as a solution.

But it’s not really what it seems to be.

Qantas and Virgin Blue have told the Federal Government point blank that unless it builds a second Sydney jet airport in Sydney, as distinct from somewhere out in woop woop, the city can go choke when it comes to business and tourism links and the jobs that go with them.

It isn’t a message either the Federal or State governments want to hear. There is a site for a second airport at Badgerys creek, and it is superbly located beside the new M7 ring road, but is regarded as political poison.

The report delivered to Premier Morris Iemma by NSW Events chairman John O’Neill would, if carried out, add nearly 40% to the current journey time for tourists or business people from China to Sydney, if a minimum three hour road trip was added to an eight hours flight.

Not to mention telling US visitors that Sydney would take nearly three hours longer to reach than Melbourne. O’Neill and Tourism and Transport Forum managing director Chris Brown both know that tour operators will never accept such an absurdity.

They just aren’t facing up to the reality that the second Sydney airport has to actually be in Sydney and that the existing airport can’t cope on its own.

The gruesome truth is that Sydney can’t even make one of the world’s smallest and most dysfunctional underground railway systems work, never mind a high speed rail link to anywhere, and that no government will ever spend tens of billions of dollars on an airport and supporting rail infrastructure no-one will use.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey