License article

How Abbott duped the people of western Sydney over Badgerys Creek

Show comments

On the day the Abbott government finally came clean that it misled western Sydney about Badgerys Creek airport, I was holding a mobile office in Doonside, catching up with residents.

During my visit, one of the most frequently raised issues was, when are we getting lifts at our railway station in Doonside?

The Doonside and Rooty Hill train stations look like relics of the 1950s. Upgrading them is a state Coalition government responsibility but it won't fix them due to budgetary restrictions. The Abbott government refuses to invest in public transport infrastructure unless an airport is involved.

A lift versus an airport – a lopsided contrast but a telling one. It reflects an unacceptable reality for western Sydney residents that simple infrastructure demands are ignored while billions are found for a brand new airport. In this case, while the stations won't be upgraded, their commuters will feel the impact of extra passengers being fed into a crowded Sydney rail network by a new airport.

I doubt the Abbott government will put in the serious dollars needed to address the traffic and rail problems that plague western Sydney. They will do just enough to link the new airport to existing road and rail networks without alleviating the growing pressure on this infrastructure.

But the greatest insult to the people of western Sydney – the insult that simply fuels the ''east versus west'' debate – is the Abbott government's insistence that Badgerys Creek Airport must operate 24 hours a day while the eastern suburbs enjoy the protection of an 11pm to 6am curfew.


Not only has Tony Abbott misled western Sydney before the election about putting an airport at Badgerys Creek – but now he's telling us we must wear 24-hour operations.

I don't buy for a second the assertions that just because fewer people will be affected by aircraft noise and the airport will start out smaller than the Sydney Airport, a curfew protecting western Sydney is not deserved or warranted.

Western Sydney is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. The area adjoining the proposed second airport site is projected to become home to a population rivalling Canberra's. How is it remotely fair to have an airport there without a curfew?

The business backers for this airport – notably the Sydney Business Chamber, camouflaged behind the name ''Western Sydney Airport Alliance'' – never admit their opposition to a curfew when tempting western Sydney with the notion that a second airport equals jobs. 

Yet even the jobs figure bounces around wildly – we're told the airport will have minimal impact while creating 60,000 jobs. If the rough rule of thumb with airports is that 1000 jobs are created with 1 million passengers using the airport, then Badgerys will see 60 million passenger movements, rivalling Los Angeles or Heathrow airports in movements.

We're either being duped on the job numbers or misled on the size of the airport.

The devil is in the detail with this Badgerys Creek proposal, and I can assure you there are a lot of hidden devils in this plan.

Ed Husic is Federal Labor member for Chifley.