Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman has been critical of NSW Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley’s comments this week that foreign airlines be encouraged, not restricted, from flying in and out of the proposed Western Sydney Airport.
“Mr Foley's attempt to make the airport more attractive just means more planes, more pollution, more pain for the Blue Mountains and the western suburbs,” Ms Templeman said.
The Turnbull government is under pressure to allow foreign airlines to operate as many flights as they want to the planned new airport in order to boost its profits.
Classifying it a "regional airport" under international agreements would also give it a leg up against Sydney Airport, which investment banks now rate a low chance of constructing the new airport at Badgerys Creek.
“The suggestion by the NSW Opposition Leader that Western Sydney Airport be classified as ‘regional’ highlights how shaky its commercial viability is,” Ms Templeman said.
“Only last week I was pointing out in Parliament that Medlow Bath isn’t considered regional enough to qualify for regional funding programs, yet somehow Badgery’s should be considered regional. It’s clearly a ludicrous suggestion.”
Mr Foley has supported a night-time no-fly zone in the past, a policy which the Turnbull government has also adopted.
“We need to see evidence that the government is serious about implementing that [night-time no fly zones].
“The EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] is very loose on the way it talks about that policy,” Ms Templeman said.
“At the very least people want to know that at night they won’t hear any flights.”
Peter Dollin, the president of Residents Against Western Sydney Airport (RAWSA), said Mr Foley's comments showed his lack of knowledge of the airport proposal and his lack of care for residents in the west.
“Allowing it to operate free of the basic protections that Sydney residents in the east enjoy, such as a curfew and capped flight numbers.
“It shows a callous disregard for our lifestyle, health and wellbeing,” Mr Dollin said.
“It also shows what desperate measures such airport proponents will go to get it built since S&P [Standard & Poor’s Global rating agency] recently reported that it is a dud investment that Sydney Airport Corporation is therefore unlikely to take up its option to build it,” Mr Dollin said.
State MP for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle stopped short on echoing Ms Templeman’s concerns, preferring to question the viability of the proposed second Sydney airport.
She pointed to statements from Sydney Airport Corporation that there was limited commercial interest in the Western Sydney airport.
“The real game for airlines and airport operators is getting access to the midnight-to-dawn timeslots at Mascot, which are locked up by the curfews in Sydney.
“The aviation industry isn’t interested however in duplicating their overhead costs and running a 24/7 airport out west,” Ms Doyle said.
“There is additional capacity at Mascot and Sydney Airport Corporation has asked for a lifting of the caps there and this is what they should be investigating.”
- with SMH