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FEDERAL Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has called on Liberal MPs from NSW to press Premier Barry O'Farrell to dump his opposition to the construction of a second Sydney airport.
The move comes as business groups and unions say a second airport will produce jobs and an increase in tourism, and is vital to the economic growth of Sydney and the nation.
Mr O'Farrell yesterday said he would not back down and would instead look to build a high-speed rail link to Canberra, a move welcomed by Canberra airport.
"We took to the last election campaign our opposition for aircraft noise being dumped on the people living in western and southwestern Sydney. And as with other policies, we're determined to deliver on our election commitments," he said.
Mr Albanese told The Australian last night that Sydney must increase its aviation capacity for the sake of its economic wellbeing, imploring Liberal MPs to speak up for their state. "Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later," he said. "Senior NSW politicians from across the political spectrum recognise this."
Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee said that for tourism to increase, people needed to arrive by air.
"It makes the tourism industry nervous when Sydney is an international gateway that we will condemn it to one airport with caps and restrictions," Mr Lee said.
"Sydney will lose competition if it can't continue to build capacity."
Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon said the option to build an airport at Wilton would bring jobs to southwest Sydney, relieve pressure on the airport at Mascot and boost tourism and the economy.
'No one can see why Mr O'Farrell would make such a harebrained decision to give jobs to Canberra rather than Sydney where they are needed. It is beyond common sense," he said.
Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said Sydney airport had capacity issues that had to be addressed.
Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff said there needed to be a long-term plan to deal with rising freight demand in Sydney as well as the city's aviation needs.
Canberra airport chief executive Stephen Byron said a high-speed rail line from Sydney to Canberra would be popular, but he urged Mr O'Farrell to reject a move by a developer who has plans to build 5500 homes outside Queanbeyan.
"We think we're a good option, we think we're the right option, but we're only an option if we don't have houses under the flight path," Mr Byron said.
The Mayor of Campbelltown, Anoulack Chanthivong, welcomed Mr O'Farrell's comments, saying his council was opposed to a second airport because of noise, flight path and environmental concerns.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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