Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 8 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding
The things we agree on
decision to grant a right of first refusal into the contract. The
objective there, of course, was to undermine the chance of the
second airport ever happening. I think the Government found a
creative way of coming through that and they deserve credit for
it. We backed it in – otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.
Western Sydney Airport is the best example of an
infrastructure project that needed government and opposition
to make it happen. I doubt whether there’s anyone in this room
who didn’t think that it should happen, but it happened.
PF: Max Moore-Wilton was here earlier.
AA: Was he here? He read the itinerary and saw I was
speaking. It’s good that he was here. That’s longer than what I
said in a previous media release.
We were ready to go into government. We’d done a lot of
the planning; we’d looked at other options. To Joe Hockey’s
credit, in particular, we sat down and worked through things in
a constructive way. We had various cabinet processes in place,
and we did a lot of research. The truth was that there was
someone – one person – who happened to be the Leader of the
Opposition at the time, and Joe and other supporters couldn’t
guarantee that he wouldn’t just come out and oppose it. Then it
would have been opposed by people in my party, as well, and
we would have been back at square one.
Joe spoke about this in his Valedictory from Parliament.
We essentially had an agreement that whoever won the 2013
Federal Election would, for goodness’ sake, get on and do it.
Joe always honoured arrangements – he had that reputation,
and we got it done.
PF: There was one other important piece of work. Having
come into it relatively recently, my observation would be that the
2012 study about the aviation needs of Sydney laid out a very
credible set of findings about the capacity of the existing airport
at Kingsford Smith.
AA: When you’re looking at bipartisanship, it’s no accident
that this report was commissioned by me in our first term.
The chances of New South Wales Labor being re-elected at
the 2011 State Election were pretty minimal, and the study was
designed with that in mind. It was due to report in March 2011,
straight after the election, because I thought it was what you
needed at that time.
I say that without upsetting the person who, at the time, was
the Deputy Premier, who happened to be my wife. We were
genuinely looking at other options, but with a Federal Labor
Government and a State Liberal Government, I thought that’s
what was needed to get this done. And of course, Barry O’Farrell
had a different position from Mike Baird and others. He didn’t
immediately receive the report, but that was also an example of
trying to get those ducks in a row, and of how to stop partisan
politics. People in the state bureaucracy were conscious of it;
Sam Haddad was the joint chair with Mike Mrdak – in the end,
they didn’t stop it, and we got there through the process.
BL: Tell us about curfews, because there’s a bit of local
pressure, which will be commercially difficult for the airport if it
gets out of control.
AA: It’s not a consensus view on my side; I’m not going to
pretend it is. I don’t support a curfew, and Labor got through an
election campaign without having a curfew. I’d also emphasise
that there’s a curfew at Sydney Airport, but there were still 4,000
or more take-offs and landings between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am
at Kingsford Smith Airport last year. There is a whole range of
low-capacity flights that are able to go out through Kurnell, and
it’s not an issue. We don’t go out there and advertise that.
The benefit of the planning that was put in place by the
Hawke Government, and maintained throughout, with pressure
on the previous Howard Government and certainly on me to
maintain the land at Badgerys Creek. When you first become
a Minister, you get a brief – of course, it always recommends
immediate finance cuts. They get all the stuff out of the bottom
drawers. Item one was to sell Badgerys Creek land, advocated
by the Sydney Morning Herald, who said, ‘Why aren’t you just
getting on with it?’ I always thought, ‘No, no, no. We might
actually need that’.
In terms of the processes of the Western Sydney Airport,
those protections have meant that you can have take-offs
and landings to the south-west, which impact almost nobody.
Around Kingsford Smith Airport, houses were demolished.
The whole suburb of Sydenham was demolished in my
electorate for the third runway at Kingsford Smith. There are
about 18,000 homes that needed to be insulated. I don’t want
anyone to suffer from aircraft noise unnecessarily, and you
can protect people. You can’t have an airport that’s silent; but
you can, because of the planning controls at Western Sydney
Airport, have an airport with less impact than any other airport in
any capital city in Australia.
PF: I’d agree with that. I’d add that I’ve visited a number
of airports around the world, and it’s reinforced the message
to me that every successful airport has a strong community
consultation strategy. That’s why we set up the forum for
Western Sydney Airport, under the chairmanship of Peter
Shergold, who’s obviously a former secretary of Prime Minister
and Cabinet, a very eminent Australian, and Chancellor of
Western Sydney University. We’ve got 22 other people on the
forum, drawn from all of the different regions of Western Sydney.
We’ve got Labor politicians, Liberal politicians, Mayors; we’ve
got council General Managers; we’ve got businesspeople (quite
a diverse range of people), and the intention is that this group
will be a very important element of community consultation,
especially as flight paths are developed. It certainly will not be
the only means of community consultation, I hasten to add,
Links Archive Volume 7 Number 1 Navigation Previous Page Next Page