For the first time since 1986 an Australian political party, the Liberals, will go to a Federal Election promising to build a second Sydney airport at the site the Commonwealth owns at Badgerys Creek.
The commitment, made by shadow Treasurer and senior coalition frontbencher Joe Hockey, puts the Federal side of the Liberals in opposition to the party line of their NSW counterparts, where Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell is adamant that Sydney’s second airport will be Canberra Airport via an unbuilt fast rail link but won’t be needed until 2049 anyhow because the airport owner’s told him so.
O’Farrell and coalition leader Tony Abbott appeared to have been caught out by Hockey’s candid handling of the issue, in that the Premier has been given what amounts to an ultimatum by what appears certain at this stage to be the next government of Australia, and Abbott hasn’t had time to work out how to blame the disharmony on the carbon tax.
There should be some interesting modifications of positions and indignant utterances on or off camera during the day. The stance taken by the Federal Labor Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese will be of interest too. Albanese is voluminously on the record as being a supporter of Badgerys Creek, but has to toe the party line, which appears to be to protect the site not for the airport it says Sydney needs immediately, but for other interests or purposes it has never explained, while pursuing a site at Wilton which doesn’t exist anymore, thanks to topography and new housing estates.
Hockey has gone directly to the need, and the existence of a site that will be developed as an airport by whomever it is sold to, rather than get diverted by out of date arguments that have prevented it being used ever since it was selected almost 26 years ago.
As he says, it won’t harm western Sydney. It’s a city in its own right. Having its own airport will make it prosper.