Transcript of Interview, 702 ABC Sydney, Breakfast



16 April 2014

Robbie Buck: The conversation, the debate, indeed occasionally the argument continues over the announcement yesterday by the Prime Minister that Badgerys Creek will after half a century of dithering finally become the site of Sydney's second airport. You heard Ed Husic the Labor Member for Chifley in the region saying that he is not welcoming it with open arms. He thinks that the infrastructure should be provided by state and federal governments without the need for a second airport and that western Sydney is essentially being blackmailed.

I'm joined by Jamie Briggs the Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Development and together with Duncan Gay the New South Wales Roads Minister, he'll be overseeing the implementation of infrastructure development in western Sydney. Good morning to you Jamie Briggs.

Jamie Briggs: Good morning.

Robbie Buck: There is still some cynicism about whether this is going to happen and how it's going to happen. How confident are you?

Jamie Briggs: There’s always cynicism sadly in our society but this plan, this economic plan for western Sydney is comprehensive. It's well thought through. The New South Wales Federal Government has been working hand in glove in recent times, along with western Sydney colleagues, to ensure that we've got a plan to build the economic capacity in western Sydney.

This is not about an airport, it's about the economic capacity of the area, a city of two million people which at the moment is under serviced with infrastructure.

One point I agree with Ed Husic on is that infrastructure is vitally important and that's why we're contributing $3.5 billion, a combination between New South Wales Government and the Australian Government over the next decade to update and build the infrastructure of the 21st century in western Sydney.

Robbie Buck: Okay, here's a little bit from Ed Husic this morning.


Ed Husic: The thing that has really got people upset out our way is that the needs that have been there and been unmet for quite some time are not attended to and the only way they get attended to is if there's an airport. So by virtue that logic is you only get the infrastructure if you support the airport. If you don't then you don't get it. Well, that's not needs-based planning. That is effectively blackmailing the people of Sydney's west to accept the airport.

[End of excerpt]

Robbie Buck: Does he have a point, should the infrastructure be there for western Sydney regardless of whether there's an airport being proposed?

Jamie Briggs: I agree with him that the Labor Party government abandoned work in Sydney. They talked about it but they never did anything out there. So in that respect, I agree with him. Contrast that with state and federal liberal governments we're building WestConnex which will service western Sydney. We're building NorthConnex which will help ensure the road networks are working as efficiently as they can be and now we're investing $3.5 billion in building the road networks out in western Sydney to grow the economic capacity.

But what I am confused about Robbie is you've got Anthony Albanese out there spruiking the benefits of building a second airport in Sydney and now you've got Ed Husic today saying it shouldn't happen. So what's the Labor Party's position? They are split on so many things it now seems they're [indistinct] split on whether they want western Sydney to have the economic capacity that we believe it can have.

Robbie Buck: Okay. How much detail as far as funding is concerned is down on the paper at this point in time because it's one thing to announce that all these projects are going to go ahead, it's another thing to say where the money is coming from especially at this time when we have a Treasurer who's saying that we have to tighten our belts. Where is the money for all of this infrastructure going to come from?

Jamie Briggs: Good question. It will be fully outlined in the budget. There will be $1.3 billion in the next four years from the federal government and the New South Wales government will make their contribution which will be 20 per cent of the road network. We are budgeting in the four-year period as you do. As far as the additional road projects we will cover those as each budget comes along and ensure that there's a plan to put them in place. Duncan Gay and I have been nominated by the Prime Minister and the Premier to ensure that plan is put in place. We would hope some of these road works will get underway very shortly to show the people of Western Sydney that this is serious.

Robbie Buck: Is there going to be a dedicated train?

Jamie Briggs: That is a matter the New South Wales government will deal with. In the early stages of course of an airport you wouldn't need one. The first stage of the discussion on the airport that the Deputy Prime Minister who has carriage of this part of the project will do is to negotiate with Sydney Airport Corporation about the contractional obligation [indistinct]…

Robbie Buck: Okay, we don't know whether that's—and do we know whether it's going to be 24-hours the airport?

Jamie Briggs: It was made clear by the Prime Minister yesterday that this is a new piece of infrastructure and of course it will be an operation which wouldn't have the regulatory restrictions that the airport which is still—the current airport which is in a much more highly population density area it does.

Robbie Buck: Alright, we look forward to seeing what's in the detail. Thanks for your time this morning Jamie Briggs.

Jamie Briggs: My pleasure.

Robbie Buck: Jamie Briggs there, the Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Development and together with Duncan Gay the Roads Minister, he'll be overseeing the implementation of infrastructure development in western Sydney as the conversations continue about Badgerys Creek.