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Moore-Wilton wonders who’s been smokin’ what

written by WOFA | October 24, 2013

A case of line up and wait. Airlines, passengers and the community are tiring quickly of the ongoing political intransigence over Sydney Airport. (Adriana Gaia)
A case of line up and wait. Airlines, passengers and the community are tiring quickly of the ongoing political intransigence over Sydney Airport. (Adriana Gaia)

If what was reported in the Daily Telegraph that the new government is getting ready to pour concrete at Badgery’s Creek, a 60-year-old hoodoo is broken.

The newspaper suggests federal treasurer Joe Hockey is seeking to include funding for an airport at Badgerys Creek in the 2014/15 budget to help stimulate a slowing economy. Certainly a $6 billion infrastructure project would help deliver that stimulus.

But a slowing economy does not an airport maketh. Australia has been through many, sometimes severe, recessions since a second Sydney airport was first mooted mid-last century, and despite the many cries from the aviation, business and tourism sectors, no airport has materialised other than what has been published in copious volumes of long-dead trees on the subject.

It’s no wonder the never-mildly-spoken Max Moore-Wilton, as chairman of Sydney Airport Corporation, has laughed at the suggestion of a new airport.

“When people tell me that the concrete trucks are going to start pouring in the first term of this government, boy oh boy, I wonder what they have been smoking,” Moore-Wilton reportedly said about the proposal for Badgerys Creek.

Of course, corporate governance demands he does. He is the chairman responsible to some weighty investors in Sydney’s only international airport. That warrants protecting.

But if it is all true, then the new government looks to be a tremendous ally of aviation. After Moore-Wilton described former transport minister Anthony Albanese as the “worst aviation minister that we had in my life time”, a view shared by many in the industry, the Coalition’s transport minister Warren Truss is instilling a sense of relief within the industry. Already he is moving ahead on pre-election promises for the regional aviation sector as well as opening the door to consultation that has been lacking during recent political terms.


The signs thus far have been very positive.

If the new federal government is to make a decision on a second airport, it is best positioned to do so early in its first term – the period of greatest political courage.

And it will need courage and resolve. Not only does a new airport have yet to pass parliamentary hurdles, it has to pass other regulatory and community obstacles that may well pass Badgerys Creek into the next parliamentary term and a period of greater political risk.

However, it would be fair to suggest the community, business sector and aviation together have created more momentum for Badgerys Creek than at any time in the history of this sorry tale. Arguably there has been no better time to press hard.

Furthermore, if the government choses to demonstrate even greater courage on matters aviation, it could more immediately relax some of the absurd impositions on the natural capacity of Sydney Airport. Recognition, for instance, that some aircraft could operate comfortably outside the current movement cap without hindrance to the community.

Even an additional four movements an hour – two arrivals and two departures, would offer respite from saturation. And another four movements an hour would barely be perceptible, especially if those additional slots were limited to turboprops or the latest generation of widebody aircraft such as the 787 and A380 that are now recognised world-over as neighbour-friendly, even at some of the most noise-sensitive airports such as Heathrow. The same can be said of operations during curfew hours. Though a riskier political move, the pre-curfew period between 0500 and 0600 could be opened up under the same low-noise conditions applied to any additional slots approved over the current 80-an-hour limit.

And more slots, of course, would make Mr Moore-Wilton very happy, without a vestige of smoke anywhere.

Interestingly, this first massive test of the government’s resolve will act as an indicator of how it intends to deal with other problem issues. If the government’s courage can take on Badgerys Creek and win, it’s a portent for other tough policy decisions in the coming parliamentary term.

Aviation, for one, could at last be recognised for the important catalyst it is to the economy. Even Moore-Wilton would have to acknowledge that from his seat overlooking the constrained mess that is Sydney Airport.


  • Ron


    I voted for Kevin747 but I have to agree the above article is pretty much right on the money.

  • Scott


    The situation at KSA is a world class disgrace, thats before we get to a new airport or using Richmond as a stitched up, second hand, retread option.

    Get KSA moving more A/C per hour, extend the curfew for new gen quiet airlines… That alone will stimulate the economy out of sight. It sounds too easy but modern new gen jets are very quiet and a decision like this would be a win for common sense, the economy band jobs.

    Then Badgery’s can be set up correctly with all the associated infrastructure planned from the start instead of added-on over time.. wouldn’t that be a nice change.

  • Ron T


    $6 billion+++ for a new airport? Make better use of the existing airport as suggested and put the money to a high speed SYD-CBR-MEL rail network. The rail link is inevitable at some stage as fuel prices rise and environmental concerns increase. Who will want to fly into Badgery’s Creek anyway? I would have to save at least $100 to even consider it.

  • DB


    Let’s get real. The capacity issue is very real. Relaxing the fringe times will make a small difference but it will not increase capacity in peak times and when things go wrong, the network wide problems stem from SYD. Look forward and we can have 2 efficient airports in the Sydney basin that take us well into the future …. look backwards and see the issues facing LHR right now …. how much is that going to cost now to increase capacity? A penny spent today may save many pounds in the future ..

  • Chris Grealy


    Isn’t Hockey the same guy who was going to Stop the Waste, Freeze Spending, and Get Australia Back to a Surplus Before Labor? Isn’t our government the same party which opposed Labor’s stimulus during the GFC, even denying that a GFC existed?

    I guess that Sloppy Joe has found a few extra trillion if he’s going to build Sydney’s second airport. Labor must have done a much better job than we were led to believe.

  • BH


    Capacity issues aside, with the Sydney basin as vast as it is and the lack of good efficient public transport, the 2nd airport at Badgerys Creek is a no brainer.
    Easy access is key thing for commuters. Depending on time of day it can easily take someone from the western or northern suburbs over an hour and a half to get to KSA. Add to that the pre flight arrival times , disgusting train station access charges and unrealistic parking prices, flying into or out Sydney is an expensive affair even before you pay for your flights.
    If the second airport card is played correctly, it should provide cheaper landing fees, terminal access and rental fees and thus overall cheaper airfares, especially for budget domestic and international carriers.
    With the effective M7 linking the west to the northern and southern motorways I can see people coming in from outside of Sydney opting for the quicker and cheaper access to Badgerys Creek. That’s a win for budget carriers and budget commuters straight away.

  • Anthony Hill


    Lol. Thats nothing! Come live in Brisbane

  • Rodney Marinkovic


    Half of centaury is very close since I am landed at Mascot airport. Saga about second airport steal running strong
    in this blessed land. Way??? Definitely time is mature for Badgerys Creek. At Badgerys Creek enough space to build. Only one problem is. Decision makers. Where are all of them!? Heathrow is more or les close to centre of greater London and going to build forth Runway. Not really room in circle in more than 150 km. Sydney is more
    lucky place. Badgerys Creek is answer. For all. Construction provide employment. Employment give god standard and consuming. Good life. No need courage to executing this project. Who opposing good life, progress…
    Common Brothers. Australians have strong vision in the past. GDP is close One trillion!!! With out of vision
    achievements not possible in regard of richness of land. People in Government it is your turn. Time fast going.
    Fifty years to forgiving, but next twelve Badgerys Creek have to be over flooded with cargo, passengers…
    Good luck to BADGERYS CREEK and to people, passengers. And to me, only 67 year young. Have I a chance to take off from BADGERYS Domestic-International. Let as (me) know.
    Rodney Marinkovic, Aircraft Mechanical Engineer (ret.) Griffith Australia // Kraljevo Serbia

  • Stu Bee


    Seriously Ron T??? You really think a high speed rail network is going to solve an aviation issue? It’s time to build Badgerys Creek – the airlines want it, local business wants it and Sydney needs it.

  • John Brennan


    whay can’t turbo props land at KSA now during (jet) curfew ?

    They can land at Bankstown 24/7.




  • MW


    What I don’t understand is that Richmond never gets mentioned as a far cheaper alternative. It even has a railway line nearby. Shift the RAAF out over time to other bases, install a precision ILS to deal with the foggy winter days and save a lot of money ….

  • random


    Whilst there is plenty of politics involved in the Wagners Wellcamp Airport (Twmba / Brisbane West), it at least shows that if you remove the politics, the actual process of building a green field site can and should be a lot faster than it invariably is in Australia.

    In truth, it shows that Sydney’s second airport should only be 12-18 months construction time away – and not the hopelessly protracted affair that it is. Why EIS, and consultation processes take so awfully long is beyond me. Whilst “rail-roading” projects is not great, 2 year design studies are woeful.

  • Dee


    The 6 billion costs quoted and disparity of same as mentioned above would actually be spaced out over a 5/6 year building period, which brings costs well below say the GFC Pink Bat fiasco, and money for all to blow on the Pokies etc., over a 12 month time frame.
    As for high speed rail between SYD/MEL, a train would have to leave each way every 15 to 20 mins to achieve parity with aircraft. Boy, that’s a lot of trains !

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