Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 8 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 91
The things we agree on
but it’s a really important part of it. Just last week, for example,
when they had their second meeting, they had a site visit to
Sydney Airport to visit the tower, and just get a sense of some
of the issues involved. Part of the thinking there is to build up
some expertise in that group of people. Without making any
assumptions about their views, these are very technical issues,
and the more we can get people with a knowledge base, then
the more they can apply their perspective as members of the
community, understanding all the considerations of voters.
BL: I recently saw a poll saying that 70 per cent of people
are now supportive of Western Sydney Airport. Paul, are you
seeing that in terms of the meetings and discussions?
PF: I’d say that there is extensive support across the
local council leadership, for example. Not every council, but a
significant number of them. They have a strong desire to be
seizing the jobs and economic opportunities that this will bring
for their residents. There is a strong interest across Western
Sydney. Of course, that’s not something you can take for
granted. You’ve got to keep working at it. You’ve got to keep
I think it’s fair to say that on both sides of politics, there was
a degree of nervousness about how a decision to proceed with
such a major infrastructure project would be received, but my
observation would be that it’s been well received, because getting
on a plane is so commonplace in the lives of Australians today –
that’s true whether you live in Western Sydney, or anywhere else.
People are saying, ‘Great, this is going to be really convenient
the next time I have to go interstate to go to the football, or go
to a wedding, or to do the other things that people are routinely
getting on planes to do’. It’s clearly linked to the fact that the
real price of airfares is now roughly half of what they were in
1990. There are now four times as many trips per year as 25
years ago. In other words, there’s a virtuous cycle between
competition and improved availability of air travel and airports.
I certainly saw that on a visit to London last year, looking at
airports like Luton and Gatwick. There is a real synergy between
competition between airports, and competition between airlines.
I think that’s one of the policy outcomes that we’re going to get.
AA: I flew in from the Gold Coast this morning. I think the
Gold Coast is the model for the sort of numbers that you’ll
have through Western Sydney Airport, and some of the types
of airlines that you’ll have when Western Sydney Airport starts.
Western Sydney will evolve into an absolutely full airport, as
big as any of the major ones around Australia over time. One
of the mistakes, I think, that some commentators make is that
they say, ‘Well, but what about the CBD? It’s a long way from
the CBD’. That’s because so many opinion makers – and I say
this as someone who lives in Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west
– th ink that Western Sydney is Parramatta.
BL: Or Pyrmont.
AA: Or Pyrmont. It’s 2.2 million people. This is Western
Sydney’s first airport, not the second Sydney Airport, and it’s a
really important distinction in terms of public mindset.
The key issue around there is how to get people from
Campbelltown and people from St Marys, and people from
the north-west, to work at not just the airport, but the science
L–R: Paul Fletcher, Brendan Lyon and Anthony Albanese
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