Address to the Western Sydney Airport Conference

Speech

WTS005/2015

01 May 2015

University of Western Sydney, Parramatta Campus

Thank you Stephen [Cartwright, CEO, NSW Business Chamber] for the introduction.

It is a great pleasure to be here. I reiterate the Prime Minister's words in thanking the NSW and Sydney Business Chambers for making this conference possible.

A first airport for Western Sydney

It is just over a year since the Australian Government announced that Badgerys Creek will be the site for a Western Sydney airport and that construction is set to commence in 2016.

This decision has ended decades of uncertainty, particularly for the local community, but also for the rest of the nation, and it demonstrates the Government's long term vision for Australia's future.

While it is a second airport for Sydney, and as such will complement Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport—it is a first airport for Western Sydney.

I see this airport not as a secondary airport for Sydney. I see it as a primary airport of Western Sydney—not just low cost but also premium.

Western Sydney is already Australia's third largest economy and, in its own right, would be our fourth largest city. The fourth largest city in Australia should have its own international airport.

By 2060, an airport at Western Sydney has the potential to increase GDP by almost $24 billion, and while most of the benefits will flow to Western Sydney, the project also has major benefits at a state and national level.

It will:

  • service local aviation requirements
  • share Sydney's air transport needs with Kingsford-Smith Airport
  • be a major catalyst for investment in the region for decades to come
  • bring jobs, business and tourism, and
  • and provide a community of over two million with an airport of its own.

The excitement and anticipation about the benefits having a dedicated Western Sydney airport will bring to the region is growing daily and the community and business groups are all telling us the time is right.

We know this from the extensive consultation we have already undertaken. We know it from talking and listening to the local community and from the energy generated in this room—speakers and audience alike.

Because the time is right, and because we are an infrastructure government, we are getting on with it by getting the foundations right.

Detailed planning and site investigations are well underway and work on the environmental assessment has commenced.

We have been consulting with Sydney Airport Group for several months under its right of first refusal to build the airport, which I will address in more detail shortly.

And we are going about it the right way around—roads and infrastructure first and airport second.

Looking into the future

A critical part of the interest and excitement around a major new project is projecting what it will look like, how it will operate and how will it cater for future growth.

The Government's plan is to stage the proposed airport in response to demand, which includes planning for its services and amenities to be easily capable of growth over time.

I've heard reports that this airport will be like New York. That won't happen at least until Sydney is as big as New York.

The plan is for a modest airport at first—we could expect the first few years of a Western Sydney airport to be similar to the Gold Coast in terms of passenger numbers. Most of the passengers will come from Western Sydney itself.

For the first 20 years or so, the airport will require one runway and we are planning for it to be around 3.7 kilometres in length—large enough to handle the full range of domestic and international aircraft, including the A380.

Over time, as demand requires, a parallel runway will be constructed.

And after, say 40 years, it could be handling up to 80 million passengers.

This number might seem unrealistic given Sydney Airport handled just under 40 million passengers last year.

But keep this in mind:

  • Kingsford Smith Airport is forecast to handle more than 70 million passengers per year by the early 2030's ; and
  • By 2060, forecasts indicate the demand for 54 million passenger trips would go unmet without a second airport.

Technological advances mean the aviation industry is evolving at a great pace, therefore, the terminal will be designed to take into account how we will travel in the future.

And, as airlines introduce new services, the terminal will grow and change to cater for increased passenger numbers.

How we are progressing this project

In talking about the future, we must be mindful of the present.

As a greenfield development, we have set ourselves a necessary, but complex and long term task, and we must get it right.

Getting it right will happen with a Government and private sector partnership where we can bring our respective strengths and skills to work for the benefit of the project.

This kind of approach will ensure the result is a commercially robust proposal that delivers the best outcome for Western Sydney and the nation.

And unlike most previous airports built in Australia, it will be developed with substantial private sector financing.

We are also working in partnership with Premier Baird's Government to deliver the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan we announced in 2014.

This 10-year programme will deliver significant upgrades to major and local roads, ensuring infrastructure connections to and from the airport site can be implemented at the time they are needed.

The end result will be a Western Sydney population connected with an airport and Sydney's motorway network by a high quality road network, which will ease congestion, improve safety and slash travel times.

Provision will also be made for a rail connection when Sydney's suburban rail network extends through the area.

Badgerys creek—Catalyst for a growing economy

Building an airport is never routine and no mean feat.

Construction of the airport alone will create over 4,000 jobs and tens of thousands more jobs in the future.

An airport at Western Sydney is a unique undertaking, and one of the most exciting civil engineering projects our nation has seen in decades.

Building a large airport from a greenfield site has not been done very often in Australia.

Studies over the years have shown Badgerys Creek to be the best site for a second airport in Sydney. The Badgerys Creek site is large, but it is challenging. The earthmoving contract to level the site will be one of the biggest our country has seen.

This location has the potential to unlock and maximise Western Sydney's economic capacity, particularly by enabling it to operate on a curfew-free basis.

Curfew-free airports provide significant benefits to communities and businesses by supporting growth in local, regional and national economies.

Sydney and NSW are currently missing out on these benefits, while Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin continue to reap the economic gains. Many international aircraft land in those cities when Sydney is closed for business.

Long-standing planning restrictions have protected Badgerys Creek from residential and urban development that would otherwise be incompatible with airport operations.

And the site's integration with the Western Sydney Employment Area means the local businesses of today and tomorrow could take advantage of a world-class, full-service airport at their doorstep.

Its positioning at Badgerys Creek is ideal to cater for Western Sydney's growth because it will bring jobs closer to home and slash travel times for workers. There is plenty of available land to enable business and industry to build around the airport site.

Currently, around 30 per cent of workers living in Western Sydney commute well outside the region to get work. This has an economic impact, as well as a personal and family impact.

Projections indicate that by 2041, a further 1 million people will live in Western Sydney, and in the next 20 years Western Sydney will account for two-thirds of Sydney's population growth, but only one-third of jobs.

This project will provide the jobs the West needs.

Delivering an airport for Western Sydney

As you are well aware, an important first step in delivering the airport involves consultation with the owners of Sydney Airport who have the right of first refusal to develop and operate a second major airport for Sydney.

This was a condition of the sale of Sydney Airport in 2002.The right of first refusal process has two phases—consultation and contractual.

Formal consultations commenced in October last year and are due to conclude next month.

Throughout the consultation process the Government has remained open to an exchange of ideas. This means that the views of Government and private sector can come together to achieve the best outcome.

Following the conclusion of this first phase, the Government will methodically work through the issues and review the range of options raised during the consultations.

The next phase will be to develop a proposal that sets out the Government's terms including technical specifications, contractual terms and timetable.

That work will take some months, but it is possible that we would have a formal proposal to present to Sydney Airport as soon as the end of this year.

If Sydney Airport refuses this proposal, then we will take it to the open market and offer the opportunity to build and operate the new airport to other parties.

As I mentioned earlier, a comprehensive environmental assessment is also underway.

The Environmental Impact Statement is a crucial component of project planning. It will specifically look at any environmental, social and economic impacts that construction and operation of the proposed airport might have.

We expect to have a draft Environmental Impact Statement available for community consultation in coming months.

Early engineering work has begun and most of those occupying houses and businesses on the site have been required to vacate by 15 June this year, so that the site can be cleared and prepared for construction.

Today I can announce that the second phase of geotechnical analysis has now started to prepare the 1,700 hectare site for the first stage of the airport.

A team of engineers will be at Badgerys Creek to profile the subsoil and rock over the next six weeks.

More than 100 boreholes of a depth up to 40 metres will be excavated, while earthmoving equipment will dig pits up to five metres deep.

Extensive geological surveys to understand rock density will also be completed, with samples analysed by the end of the year.

This is an important step in seeing the airport come to fruition and being in operation as expected by the mid-2020s.

It is important that we ensure the community is informed and consulted at all stages throughout the project's planning and preparation phases.

My department has provided a range of information resources, including community information stalls held at the Luddenham and Blacktown Shows, and the Glenbrook and Fairfield Markets; briefings with 10 local councils and key stakeholders; community newsletters—the latest of which is included in your conference packs; numerous fact sheets; engagement with tenants; and a dedicated website, hotline and email inbox.

And, we are also working closely with state and local governments and industry to ensure the project reaches its full potential and the local communities share in the benefits if offers.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no doubt this project is a game-changer for Western Sydney.

It will generate billions of dollars in economic activity, create thousands of jobs in construction and tens of thousands of jobs once operational.

It will provide businesses and local residents with unprecedented access to air travel and freight services.

This Government is committed to its role in preparing a Western Sydney Airport for take-off.

I wish you an excellent conference.

Thank you.