Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese needs to be cautioned that his renewal of the quest for a second airport for Sydney has been a magnet for raving lunatics for decades. Some of them are bound to try and get past his minders and present him with some amazing concepts.
In the 80s the Alice Springs option first sprung into view. Australia would build one gigantic super airport in its dead heart and connect it with a spoke like series of high speed railways to each capital city except Hobart.
It would have only cost 1000 times as much as the Apollo Moon Landings, and added a day to travel times from London or Los Angeles to any capital city.
In the 90s Sydney was urged to put the second airport in the Wolgan Valley, on the other side of the Blue Mountains, and link it to the CBD by either giant passenger gondolas suspended from a cableway or along a monorail that would span such scenic wonders as the Grose Valley, pause for a refreshments and souvenirs buying opportunity at the Three Sisters and then descend into the metropolitan basin terminating at Darling Harbour or the Opera House.
Then there was the offshore floating airport, just off Maroubra, or in the event of some mishap with the weather and anchor cables, conveniently offering pedestrian access from Bondi Beach or the Manly Corso.
Apart from such madness, there was the positively evil proposal in the 60s to put a total replacement airport inland from Wattamola Beach in the Royal National Park. The environmental criminality of this proposal was never recognised at the time, only the unfortunately high engineering costs associated with filling in a few pesky gorges.
Other sites that were more practicable, but ran into political difficulties or were overrun by suburban sprawl or hobby farms included the site of today’s Rosehill Racecourse, Scheyville, French’s Forest, Helensburgh, Lucas Heights and Gough Whitlam’s personal choice, Galston Gorge.
The Holsworthy Artillery Firing Ground was another hot favourite until, surprisingly, it was discovered to be lousy with unexploded shells and bisected by deep ravines.
By 1985 the serious selection of a future airport site had come down to Badgery’s Creek, which was the winner, and Wilton, the runner up. The Wilton site has been turned into a new housing estate this year, and Badgery’s Creek is still owned by the Commonwealth although the site that was preserved is no longer large enough for a world class airport.
Martin Ferguson, who had the gig as opposition aviation spokesperson after Albanese had made a number of speeches calling for the construction of an airport at Badgerys Creek, had a number of sites in the southern highlands in mind, no doubt including such enclaves of conservative privilege as Bowral, its Don Bradman Museum and the Bong Bong race course. Ideal places to banish the low cost airlines before they grew out of control.
All of which is irrelevant, since no-one who is flying to or from Sydney is going to do so via somewhere in whoop whoop.