There is a fine piece of ‘nation unbuilding’ double speak in last night’s Federal Budget in its allocation of $8.5 million for an ‘Aviation Strategic Plan for Sydney‘.
The title is as misleading as Laurie Breteton’s decision in 1995 to ‘stop work on Badgery’s Creek in order to fast track it,‘ in relation to building a much needed second jet airport for Sydney- and in Sydney at the site chosen by the Hawke Labor government back in 1986.
The government’s proposal is that by the middle of next year, safely after this year’s general election, the spending of something like $700,000 a month will discover a site outside of Sydney and its sensitive electorates to which business or leisure travellers would willingly spend additional hours getting to and from in order to visit or work in the transport and maritime planning catastrophe that is the harbour city.
Why can’t a smart, really smart Minister like Anthony Albanese, or even the Premier, Kristina Keneally, address the fundamental reality? The global and Australian enterprises that require efficient access to air transport will not remain in town, or even think about coming to it, if they have to add hours to the time it takes to get to an airport.
Fixing Sydney’s airport issues, both to improve access to the existing airport, and provide new capacity, is of life-and-death importance to the city. Albanese made this very clear last year when he said, contrary to the position taken by his predecessors, that Sydney Airport could not cope with expected growth after 2025.
And given his earlier, pre-Ministerial commentary on Badgery’s Creek, he also knows that sending tourists and business travellers to an airport that is not actually in Sydney is the same thing as sending them away. To Melbourne or to Brisbane.
Given Premier Keneally’s inability to even contemplate a much needed duplication of the M5 east tunnel and access roads through her electorate, in the greater interests of improved access to the existing airport, any notion of state leadership on this issue seems implausible.
The $8.5 million is more like ‘hush money’ to keep this enduring fiasco politically invisible for at least another year.