Tue, 14 Nov - 15:04
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Western Sydney Airport will bring benefits on the ground as well as in the air

With Western Sydney growing strongly, Western Sydney Airport is critically important. Not just because two million people in Western Sydney will now have a more convenient choice when it comes time to catch a flight.

Not just because it provides growth capacity as Kingsford Smith Airport reaches its limits – with no additional capacity by the mid-2030s, according to the 2012 Joint Study into the Aviation Capacity of the Sydney region.

But because, in the vision set out by Greater Sydney commission chair Lucy Turnbull, it can be the economic core of a new third city in Sydney’s west.

The federal government is hard at work, with the NSW government and the councils of Western Sydney, to deliver on this vision. The first thing we need to do is build a great airport which attracts flights and passengers as soon as it opens in 2026.

In the past three years we have made a lot of progress.

In late 2016 the Turnbull government issued the final environmental impact statement and approved the airport plan, giving formal legal approval to build an airport at Badgerys Creek.

In May 2017, when Sydney Airport Group said it would not take up its right of first refusal, we announced the government would build and own the airport — and invest up to $5.3 billion to do so.

In August we appointed the first directors of the government-owned company, WSA Co, which will do this job. Before the year ends WSA Co will call for tenders for earth moving and other early works; those works will begin on site before the end of next year.

There is much to do between now and 2026, but WSA Co is off to a great start.

There is much to do between now and 2026, but WSA Co is off to a great start.

Next, the Turnbull and Berejiklian governments are working together to make sure the airport has great transport connections, which serve the airport and western Sydney. Under the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan there will be a new M12 Motorway, connecting the airport to the M7 and Sydney’s motorway network.

The Northern Rd will be upgraded to at least four lanes along its 35km length with work already under way, as is work to widen Bringelly Rd and upgrade Narellan Rd.

The two governments have set up a Scoping Study into the rail needs of Western Sydney and Western Sydney Airport. This is asking what the right route would be for a rail connection to the airport; when it should be built; how much it will cost; and how it should be paid for?

In coming months we will have more to say about the study’s recommendations, and the next steps in response.

Third, we are planning for this airport to bring the highest possible level of jobs and economic activity.

By 2031 there will be about 13,000 direct jobs at the airport; including indirect jobs the airport will generate 27,000 jobs. Around the world airports are proven job generators, attracting businesses in sectors like freight and logistics; accommodation and conventions; tourism; education; advanced manufacturing and many others.

Already the giant US defence contractor Northrop Grumman has announced it will invest $50 million to build a centre of excellence near the new airport, which it expects will see its Australian job numbers double from 500 to 1000.

Last, we need to plan the region around the airport so it is a great place to live and work. That means setting aside land for the kinds of businesses the airport can attract and ensuring we have the right kind of commercial and residential development.

The NSW government’s Greater Sydney Commission is hard at work on this and the two governments are working together, along with local councils, to agree on our shared priorities through the Western Sydney City Deal.

Western Sydney Airport is an opportunity to shape the development of Western Sydney for decades to come and all three levels of government are working together to seize this opportunity.