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RAAF base touted as temporary airport solutio -

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RAAF base touted as temporary airport solution

Shane McLeod reported this story on Monday, November 23, 2009 12:22:00

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Sydney and speculation that an RAAF air force base in Sydney's West
could end up as the city's second airport is being downplayed by the Federal Transport Minister.

Media reports today have quoted unnamed sources saying that the Richmond base north-west of the
city could be used to ease pressure on the nation's busiest airport. The Transport Minister Anthony
Albanese has been pushing for the Federal Government to decide on where to put a second Sydney
airport but today he's refusing to say whether Richmond will be a part of that solution.

Shane McLeod has our report.

SHANE MCLEOD: Working out where to site a second airport for the nation's largest city has been a
political problem on the books for more than 60 years. Now there's speculation that in the short
term, at least, a solution to the problem may be just 50 kilometres from the centre of the city, at
the nation's second-oldest RAAF base, at Richmond. Not that Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is
ready to confirm that.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we have announced in a process whereby there will be a joint study from the
Commonwealth and the State Government looking at future airport needs for Sydney. We know that the
Badgerys Creek site is no longer a viable option for Sydney's second airport. What we need is a
properly considered response and plan.

SHANE MCLEOD: Mr Albanese was responding to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today
that has put a civilianised Richmond base back on the agenda. It quotes a senior unnamed official
suggesting the airport will be names as a 'temporary' second airport while a study identifies a
suitable long-term airport site, maybe even further away from the CBD.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What is on the table is a joint study between the National Government and the New
South Wales Government looking at aviation needs for Sydney as part of the overall transport plan
for Sydney.

SHANE MCLEOD: The local mayor of Hawkesbury Council is Bart Bassett. He told ABC Radio in Sydney
this morning the local community is tired of the speculation.

BART BASSETT: Cause it goes round and round every six months or so and they throw up Richmond as a
possibility for another commercial airport for Sydney and we keep saying the same thing we've
always said - that it is just not in the right sport for a commercial airport with two historic
towns at each end of the current runway.

SHANE MCLEOD: And Bart Bassett says there are big questions over whether the plan is even viable.

BART BASSETT: Richmond RAAF base would have exactly the same problems as Badgerys Creek had with
western Sydney if it was to be used as a commercial facility. They would have to run another runway
in a north-south direction and then that brings in all of the other western Sydney suburbs that
were complaining about Badgerys Creek.

SHANE MCLEOD: Those who promote Richmond say it's attractive because configuration for the air
force means it already has a lot of the infrastructure a commercial airport would need. Its main
runway can cater for aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767 and there's scope for extensions to
the existing runway, and a possible north-south extension in the future.

The suggestion is that Richmond could be temporary until another site is developed as a long-term
solution. With the previously favoured Badgerys Creek now ruled out, that long-term option could be
even further away - perhaps on the Central Coast, north of Sydney or the RAAF base at Williamtown
near Newcastle.

Warren Bennett is from the Board of Airline Representatives, which advocated on behalf of
international airlines flying to Australia. He says an airport that's too far away from the city is
unlikely to be supported by passengers or airlines.

WARREN BENNETT: Richmond is, in fact, our preferred option for a permanent second city airport
simply because you cannot have an airport located away from a large population centre. It just
wouldn't be viable.

In order for an airport to be viable, it has to have access to both domestic and international
traffic and it has to have access to both inbound and outbound traffic. If you don't have both of
that, then you are not going to have a viable airport.

ELEANOR HALL: Warren Bennett is from the Board of Airline Representatives. He was speaking to Shane
McLeod.