2GB Sydney Live with Ben Fordham

Interview

PFI009/2017

02 May 2017

Topics: Western Sydney Airport, housing affordability

Ben Fordham: Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure. He’s live in the studio. Good afternoon to you Minister.

Paul Fletcher: Good afternoon, Ben, good to be here.

Ben Fordham: Can you answer that question for Graham straight up about the roads going to and from Badgerys Creek?

Paul Fletcher: Well, Graham, there’s a $3.6 billion commitment from the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government, the Berejiklian and Turnbull governments that will upgrade the roads around the site of the new Western Sydney Airport. So, the Northern Road will be upgraded to four lanes all the way – two lanes in each direction – there’ll be a new M12 that will run from the airport to connect with the M7, Bringelly Road being widened. In fact, I was just driving along it today, there’s a lot of work underway right now. So, 3.6 billion in total going into improving the roads to make sure there’s excellent ground transport connectivity for the new Western Sydney Airport when it opens, scheduled to happen in 2026.

Ben Fordham: Okay, no big surprise but Sydney Airport has despite that money spinner that they have there at Mascot, they’ve decided they don’t want to build Badgerys Creek. Why don’t they want to build it if it’s going to be such a raging success?

Paul Fletcher: Well, they’ve said in their announcement today that it doesn’t meet their investment criteria and that’s a matter for Sydney Airport. They’ve made a decision in the interest of their investors, that’s fine. Government, the Turnbull Government, has committed that we are going to build it and of course government can take a longer-term perspective than private sector investors, and we’re also interested in the broader economic benefits and the jobs. You know, this airport will have about 9000 jobs by the early 2030s after it becomes operational in 2026. It will attract lots of businesses, airports around the world attract businesses, they will bring more jobs. And so this is about economic growth and opportunity for Western Sydney. And of course, today in Western Sydney about a million people in the workforce, a third of them leave Western Sydney for work every day. These are jobs in Western Sydney and airports, typically, most of the people who work there live locally.

Ben Fordham: Alright, when this was first announced there was no rail line that was supposed to be going to Badgerys Creek, and then over time every three months, another expert or another politician says, okay, we need a rail line. Is there going to be a rail line from the start or not?

Paul Fletcher: There’s a joint scoping study underway between the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments that is looking at the question of what the right rail route should be, when should it be built, how much it would cost, when it should be built, and how will it be funded. That will report to the two governments middle of this year, we’ll be in a position to say more after that as to the way forward.

Ben Fordham: Alright. Well, what about the curfew? So, we’ve got a curfew at Sydney Airport and that greatly restricts what happens there at Mascot. I heard yesterday Stuart Ayres, the Minister for Western Sydney, saying there should not be a curfew at Badgerys Creek. Has a decision been made on a curfew?

Paul Fletcher: Western Sydney Airport has been planned the whole time not to have a curfew. So, that’ll be important but at the same time we have made a commitment that in the evening hours aircraft will both take off to and land from the south west, the much more lightly-populated area. Bear in mind, development around the airport- the site has been restricted for more than 30 years and so that’s a way of making sure that the noise impacts are not onerous, not unfair, but at the same time making sure that the airport is effective and operational and gives as many choices and options for people who use it.

Ben Fordham: Just very quickly, the extra cost to the taxpayer in building this airport. Are we going to see something on that in the budget when it’s released next week?

Paul Fletcher: Yes we will. So the financial details will be given by Treasurer Scott Morrison in the budget next week but the key commitment today is that the Turnbull Government is building Western Sydney Airport. It’ll be operational by 2026, we’ve got a clear plan, and we’re moving forward.

Ben Fordham: Okay, you’re listening to Paul Fletcher the Minister for Urban Infrastructure. You had me scratching me head today Minister. I was reading a column that you wrote in The Daily Telegraph. The headline was Transport the Key to Controlling Cost of Housing and you said in this piece today that transport is a key to controlling the cost of housing. Now, you talked about improving transport infrastructure and that that would somehow address what happens with housing prices. I thought that when you improved transport infrastructure around housing, the cost of those houses go up. That’s my experience.

Paul Fletcher: Well, a key point is about the continued supply of housing but a lot of things have to happen to allow that supply, including transport connectivity, the roads, so that people can get to where the jobs are. So, the key point is that there’s a real linkage between transport and continued supply of housing. To do that, you need to be opening up new areas of land, and that requires transport connections. But it’s also about getting more housing into existing areas but you need to have good transport connections, and classically train stations are good areas where you can have apartments and of course apartments are more affordable than houses.

Ben Fordham: We look forward to more detail on housing affordability, on the airport, and everything else in the upcoming budget. Thank you so much for coming into the studio.

Paul Fletcher: Thanks Ben.

Ben Fordham: Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure.