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Plea for bipartisan approach to airport

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Chief Political Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald

View more articles from Lenore Taylor

"I have done all that I can to make sure there is a bipartisan approach to this" ... Anthony Albanese.

"I have done all that I can to make sure there is a bipartisan approach to this" ... Anthony Albanese. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

THE federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has highlighted divisions within the federal Coalition over the second Sydney airport, while insisting the government is trying to put the issue beyond partisan politics.

The Coalition transport spokesman, Warren Truss, says there is no need for a second Sydney airport for 20 years or more, contradicting other frontbenchers, led by the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, who accept the finding of a recent federal/state report that immediate action is required.

Mr Truss suggested more overseas flights could land in Brisbane or Melbourne rather than Sydney.

But Mr Albanese said Sydney was the gateway to Australia and it was a ''laughable idea'' to ask foreign visitors to fly to Canberra, then catch a train to Sydney.

''It's like buying a ticket to New York and landing in Washington DC,'' he said. ''There's nowhere in the world where you fly into a major global city and have to travel 300 kilometres to get to that city.''

Mr Truss said yesterday the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, was ''making the … quite correct call that there will be no need for a second airport in Sydney for a long period of time.'' Mr Hockey has described Mr O'Farrell's position as ''absurd'' and said Sydney must make a decision on a second airport site.

Mr Albanese accused Mr Truss of failing to understand the findings of the report and of neglecting needs of rural NSW residents.

''I have done all that I can to make sure there is a bipartisan approach to this … . we need to respond in a bipartisan way to avoid the problems we have had in the past,'' he said.

Lenore Taylor

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