2GB interview with Steve Price

Steve Price: The Prime Minister will be along with several other of his ministers today in the west of Sydney where Badgerys Creek the first sod of soil will be turned. Alan Tudge is the Federal Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure. He's on the line. Morning.

Alan Tudge: Good morning, Steve.

Steve Price: Gee it's taken a long time hasn't it?

Alan Tudge: It's been 50 years in the making, Steve…

Steve Price: Fifty?

Alan Tudge: Fifty years in the making but it's now going to be done and today the Prime Minister will be turning the first sod and that will mean by 2026 Western Sydney Airport will finally be open.

And that is not just good news for residents of Western Sydney from a gateway perspective, but it's also a massive jobs boost for Western Sydney because the development itself will create thousands of jobs. The overall operation will create a further 26,000 jobs…

Steve Price: [Talks over] I think a lot of people are saying hallelujah, it's time has come and it's needed, there's a massive population in the west of Sydney that will be able to access air travel a lot easier.

Why does it take though so long to construct it Alan? I mean that's eight years. I mean I would imagine if an airport like this was being built in China it wouldn't take them eight years and I think our friends up at Toowoomba built one up there in a very quick amount of time. What…

Alan Tudge: Yeah, this is a huge undertaking and you've got to understand that the runway itself is 3.7 kilometres long and we're building an airport to be the size of Adelaide's airport initially and it's not just the airport but it's all the associated infrastructure around it.

So by the time the airport is actually open in 2026 we'll have the M12 built and that will connect the M7 directly to the airport. We'll have a rail link built so that you can get on the train and continue on from St Mary's down to the airport immediately from the first stage that the airport opens.

So it's a huge amount of work to be done between now and then. We're on track. The bulldozers are there ready to get going and we want to get this thing underway.

Steve Price: What's your feeling as to who will be the main users of Badgerys as compared to Kingsford Smith? I mean are we talking about full service airlines flying in and out of there?

I know there's going to be no curfew, so you're going to have international and domestic flights in and out of this airport when it starts?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, that's exactly right. It's going to be the international and domestic airline. And I think one of your concerns, Steve, was that it might have just been for the discount airlines and that's not the case.

In fact Virgin and Qantas have already indicated that they'll have full premium domestic services operating from day one in 2026. So, this is a full-service airport. The size of Adelaide and will cater are 10 million passengers and it will grow from there and of course as everybody knows the Kingsford Smith airport is pretty congested already. It's reaching capacity and that's exactly why we do need this second airport.

Steve Price: Yeah well, I use it weekly and you can add, as you know because you travel a lot by air, you can at least half an hour to every journey just by taxing times at Sydney Airport.

But consumers will have a choice presumably. You'll be able to fly from Melbourne or Adelaide or Perth or wherever you're coming from and you'll be able to book to either get out of Badgerys or get out at Kingsford Smith.

Alan Tudge: Yep, that's exactly right. So that's good for consumers to have that choice and when you've got a bit of competition between the airports as well that tends to put down the pressure on prices too.

So it's more convenient for consumers and it will lead to lower prices for consumers as well.

Steve Price: So it's a project costing $5.3 billion, how's that split up between federal and state governments?

Alan Tudge: That's all federal contributions. It's a federally funded airport and that's over 10 years. Now, that's a big contribution of funding and on top of that there's about $3.6 billion worth of infrastructure funding.

So, it's a huge undertaking, not just for the airport but for broader Western Sydney and in the process it's going to be a massive jobs boost for Western Sydney as well as I said. Eleven thousand jobs just in the construction phase and a further 26,000, 27,000 jobs in the operations phase and [audio cuts out]…

Steve Price: You might have lost…

Alan Tudge: [Indistinct] Are you still there, Steve?

Steve Price: Yeah, your phone's just breaking up a little bit. I'll let you go. But just one final thing from me. Is the intention down the track to retain this in government hands or to sell it off?

Alan Tudge: Listen, we're keeping our options open in relation to that Steve. Task number one is to get the job done, get the airport open on time and offer great services for residents.

Steve Price: Good luck out there. Thanks for talking to us this morning.

Alan Tudge: Thanks very much, Steve.

Steve Price: Alan Tudge who is the Federal Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure. I have said all along that I'm a supporter of the Badgerys Creek airport. They should build it.