Transcript—Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News 24 Breakfast

Interview

PFI036/2016

12 December 2016

Subject: Western Sydney Airport

Michael Rowland: Okay, let's go back home now and get more on the announcement about the sign-off for Sydney's Badgerys Creek airport. The Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, joins us now from Sydney. Minister, good morning.

Paul Fletcher: Good morning, Michael.

Michael Rowland: What does the announcement actually mean?

Paul Fletcher: Well, what we've announced today is that we’ll be today making the airport plan. That's the formal approval to proceed with Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. And it sets out some of the key elements: there will be a 3,700 metre runway, so that's going to fit aircraft up to and including an Airbus A380; there will be a terminal that will cater for up to 10 million passengers a year, that's the traffic levels we expect to get to by the early to mid-2030s. And so this is really a critical step in being able to proceed with Western Sydney Airport. It builds on the environmental impact statement which secured final approval a few weeks ago and it really means that Western Sydney Airport is cleared for take-off.

Michael Rowland: Lots of Sydneysiders have heard this story before. So best-case scenario, Minister, when would Badgerys Creek Airport be up and running? Open for take-off and landing?

Paul Fletcher: It's scheduled to open in the mid-2020s. And so, it's been very important that we get these critical approvals in place. All of that has to happen before construction can commence. On the 1800 hectare site at Badgerys Creek, almost all of the existing structures have now been demolished and even just this week, there's some geotechnical survey work being done there in relation to a potential route for a rail connection. So there's an enormous amount of work already occurred and an enormous amount of work yet to do on this very large project. But it's very, very important for Western Sydney and for Sydney. It will be about 9,000 jobs by 2030 or so at the airport. And of course, Sydney needs, the nation needs this additional aviation capacity. According to the joint study on the aviation needs of Sydney done under the last government, by 2027, Kingsford-Smith Airport will have no additional slots able and by the mid-2030s, there’ll be essentially no additional capacity available at Kingsford-Smith. So it is very important for Sydney, as the largest international gateway into Australia, and important for the nation. It will also offer convenient travel options for people in Western Sydney. For two million people, Western Sydney Airport will now be closer than Kingsford-Smith Airport. So very important in terms of offering additional travel options, but also in terms of bringing jobs and driving economic opportunities because airports around the world are typically catalysts for that.

Michael Rowland: And speaking of travel options, you mentioned the rail corridor. Will a rail link be established in time for the opening of the first day to the airport? Because lots of people need and don't necessarily live in Western Sydney, would need to go get to and from the airport in a relatively cost-effective manner?

Paul Fletcher: Well look at the opening, there will be excellent ground transport connectivity. The $3.6 billion Western Sydney transport plan involves the upgrading of the northern road to four lanes all the way. There will be a new M12 which will connect the M7 to the airport and thus link the airport into Sydney’s freeway network, and of course, buses, public transport over that. In relation to rail, the airport is being designed to be rail ready. There's a station box, that's to say, an excavation for where a station will be built. There will be a reserved corridor for rail across the airport itself. And the New South Wales and Australian governments are carrying out a joint scoping study into the rail needs of Western Sydney, Western Sydney Airport looking at what would be the right route for rail connection, when should it be built? How much will it cost? How should it be paid for? That will report to the two governments next year and the Prime Minister has set the scoping for the study. Could rail be ready for when the airport opens or if not, then how soon after?

Michael Rowland: And how soon, you’re talking about capacity being reached at Sydney Airport in the not too distant future, how soon would a second runway be needed at Badgerys Creek?

Paul Fletcher: Well certainly, Badgerys Creek or Western Sydney Airport is being planned for the long-term. It's expected that between 2040 and 2050 is when the second runway will be needed and so, certainly, we are taking a long-term perspective here. But the first stage of the airport will involve a single runway and a terminal with capacity for about ten million passengers. That should take us through to about the mid-2030s but it is very important that we build in the longer term capacity and the plans, as set out in the airport plan, which has been finally approved today, do include provision for future growth.

Michael Rowland: OK, we'll leave it there. Paul Fletcher, thank you very much for joining us this morning.