Transcript ABC Radio Sydney: Interview with Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer

Robbie Buck: It looks like an airport. Alan Tudge is the Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, and he is spruiking this new design this morning. Good morning to you, Minister.

Alan Tudge: G’day Robbie. Hi Wendy.

Wendy Harmer: Hello there, and what do you think of the new design? You love it, I bet.

Alan Tudge: I think it's pretty special. I didn't choose the design. It was selected by an independent panel consisting of some of Australia's top architects. But I think it's a special design and it will be fitting for the brand new Western Sydney Airport, which is under construction as we speak. And we’re unveiling the full terminal design today. As you said, it's got this wavy wooden ceiling, it's got some vertical gardens, it's very open and light. And when it opens in 2026, it will accommodate 10 million passengers right from the get-go. And then will accommodate many more than that.

Robbie Buck: But we're talking 82 million passengers by the 2060s, which is what JFK in New York accommodates. That's a lot of planes.

Alan Tudge: Yeah, that's right. So when it initially opens, it will be about the size of Adelaide’s Airport today, so catering to about 10 million passengers. So it will be a reasonably busy airport right from the start. It will be a full-service airport. So, discount airlines plus the premium airlines plus international flights going from there from day one, and that will mean a tremendous service for the residents who live out there but it also takes pressure off the Sydney Airport as well.

Wendy Harmer: I'm a bit surprised in the design that it is so, well, as I mentioned earlier, I think it looks like a country airport. It's surprisingly low rise. I guess airport terminals are.

Alan Tudge: Yeah, I've seen the video of it so far and we'll be unveiling that. It will no doubt be on the news tonight which people can have a look at. And it doesn’t feel low-rise in the video, but let's take a look. I think people will like it and I think it's a very modern design fitting for the area. I mean, the other key feature is it will be the most technically advanced airport in the world when it's built and we probably even expect by 2026, it may not have check-in counters because it may all be automated. You may just be able to walk through and you’ll have face recognition which will tap into your passport to say who you are. So, it could be a really seamless experience as well, and that's what we envision by 2026.

Robbie Buck: How much is it going to cost?

Alan Tudge: We haven't revealed the figure for the terminal itself.

Robbie Buck: Why not?

Alan Tudge: The overall cost of the airport is $5.3 billion.

Robbie Buck: But just out of interest, why not? Minister, why don't we know how much something like this is, which is being paid for, of course, by taxpayers’ money?

Alan Tudge: So, the entire airport is budgeted at $5.3 billion. That's the money which we're injecting to get it built. Now, individual components such as the terminal, we haven't put that out to tender yet and so we don't want to reveal what the overall envelope is for that particular component, otherwise the bidders may in fact [indistinct].

Robbie Buck: All right, okay. The other issue, of course, about Western Sydney Airport and the terminal looks fantastic, but there is frustration within the area, and we have this from callers whenever we talk about it, about the lack of information around the flight paths. Surely we know where the planes are going to be coming in from and going out to, why can't that be released?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, we don't know that yet. We put out some initial flight path designs when we did the full business case for the airport, and that was included then. But this is a long and complex process and people will have further opportunities to input into the flight paths.

Robbie Buck: But will they be able to have any effect? I mean, won’t the wind direction?

Alan Tudge: Yeah. Even the initial designs which were put out, we did receive that feedback and so a decision was made, for example, that there won’t be a single merge point and that was based
on the community feedback. When the next round of consultations goes out with the next stage of the design, there will be further feedback which comes in as well. But you know, the airport is not opening ‘til 2026 so we’ve just got to keep that in perspective. We’ve got to do it right.

These are immensely complex things to do but we will be taking into account the views of the community and making sure this has the most stringent noise restrictions of any airport in Australia.

Wendy Harmer: We are speaking with Alan Tudge, MP, Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population and Federal Member for Aston. Let’s talk about jobs. You are pretty proud of the amount of jobs this is going to bring. Tell us more.

Alan Tudge: Absolutely. Yeah, so in the construction stage, there’s 11,000 jobs which are being created and then in the operations stage, there’s about 28,000 direct and indirect jobs that will be created as a result of this airport. So it’s a huge, huge jobs multiplier this airport, and we’ve got targets as well to employ local people and already we’re well and truly above that target. So the target is 30 per cent employing local people from Western Sydney; already we’re above that at about 54 per cent.

Robbie Buck: Alright. Minister, have you seen the call this morning from the New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who's saying that the Federal Government should be pouring money towards the new Western Metro that's been announced by the New South Wales State Government. They are saying that it is designed to extend to the Western Sydney Airport, but the Morrison Government is not extending any cash towards it. What is your response?

Alan Tudge: Well, we've already put $33 billion of funds into the New South Wales infrastructure program which includes the Western Sydney Airport and rail and roads in Western Sydney and across Sydney and New South Wales. We'll consider this in the context of the budget as we do all proposals from State Governments but fair enough, Minister Constance requesting further funds. He wouldn’t be a State Minister if he wasn't requesting further funds from the Federal Government, but we'll consider it in the context of the budget.

Wendy Harmer: We have Johnno who has called us and says please make sure that the Wi-Fi is better than what's at Sydney at the moment.

Alan Tudge: I'm pretty confident it will be, because our ambition is for it to be the most technologically advanced airport in Australia.

Wendy Harmer: Okay. So are you going to build this airport and then it is going to be sold? Is that what is going to happen?

Alan Tudge: There's no plans for that at the moment. So it is fully government funded in terms of the construction and then governments will make decisions well into the future.

Robbie Buck: And the fact that it's a 24-hour airport I know causes some consternation in Western Sydney, knowing that say it's going to be a lot of planes landing, taking off all through the night in the middle of the night, we know that it does interrupt people's sleep. What's your message for the people in Western Sydney?

Alan Tudge: Oh, so that's why we're being really careful about the flight path’s design. That's why the airport has always had no residential areas at either end of the runways at 10 kilometres whereas the Sydney Airport, there’s residential areas within about five or six hundred metres. That's why it's likely that at night time, most of the flights will go towards the southwest, which is where the less densely populated areas are. So very cognisant of that, but it is important that it is a 24- hour airport as well because almost every other airport in Australia, is but obviously Kingsford Smith isn't and Sydney is the international gateway for so many people and it really needs to have an international 24/7 airport.

Robbie Buck: All right.

Wendy Harmer: Well I must say looking at the aerial shots here, it looks like it is in the middle of paddocks that go on for miles and miles and miles.

Alan Tudge: It’s pretty impressive. You should get out there and take a tour.

Wendy Harmer: All right. It doesn’t seem to be a person within cooee of it.

Robbie Buck: Well, we’ll see what happens in five years’ time.

Alan Tudge: Go and have a look out there. We’re literally transforming the landscape as we speak.

Wendy Harmer: All right.

Robbie Buck: All right, Minister.

Wendy Harmer: Okay.

Robbie Buck: We better leave it, we’ve got the news.  Thanks very much for your time this morning. Good on you.

Alan Tudge: Okay. It’s my pleasure, Robbie.