Wilton on agenda as Sydney's second airport despite O'Farrell objection
Anthony Albanese ... ‘‘The government is committed to increasing Sydney’s aviation capacity." Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The federal government is to investigate Wilton as a site for a second Sydney airport despite the NSW government's opposition to the project.
Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese announced in a statement today the government would initiate a "detailed investigation into the suitability of Wilton".
Already we are seeing major problems arising from a lack of aviation infrastructure in Sydney.
It will involve preliminary economic, social and environmental studies into the site on Sydney's south-western fringe.
"The government is committed to increasing Sydney's aviation capacity in a bipartisan and consultative manner," Mr Albanese said.
The federal government wants a second airport within the Sydney basin to bolster the national economy and to take pressure off Sydney Airport.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has rejected proposals for a second Sydney airport at either Badgerys Creek or Wilton.
He wants Canberra Airport expanded, with a high-speed rail link between Sydney and the nation's capital.
In March, a joint federal-state government study into Sydney's aviation capacity found "immediate action" was needed to meet growing demand.
It recommended a second Sydney airport in the next five years and identified Badgerys Creek and Wilton as the two best options.
Mr Albanese said today the government had to act soon to avoid major economic costs and more than 70,000 job losses.
"Sydney needs a second airport - sooner rather than later," he said.
"Already we are seeing major problems arising from a lack of aviation infrastructure in Sydney."
The study found if the government did nothing about aviation capacity it would cost the country $35 billion in unmet demand by 2060.
Mr Albanese has previously ruled out Badgerys Creek as a viable site for the project, citing a pre-election commitment.
The $8 million study rejected Mr O'Farrell's preferred option of using Canberra airport and a rail link, saying the city "cannot take the role of Sydney's second RPT (Regular Public Transport) airport."
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay, who has been embroiled in a public spat with Mr Albanese over budget funding for the Pacific Highway, said Mr Albanese was simply playing politics with his Wilton airport announcement.
He accused Mr Albanese of "looking after his home patch" of Marrickville, one of a number of Sydney seats affected by aircraft noise from the airport at Mascot.
"There is no more to this than Albanese looking after the seat of Marrickville, and that's what it is, home town politics," Mr Gay told reporters outside State Parliament.
"It's an issue that we need to look at, but I wouldn't be putting too much credibility into Albanese playing politics in his own home seat.
"Frankly, this is Albanese looking after Albanese."
Comment was being sought from the Sydney Airport Corporation.