A second major airport for Sydney will be considered as part of a historic review of the nation’s aviation sector, which has received scathing comments from the opposition.
Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says there has been considerable growth in aviation with passenger numbers tripling during the past 20 years on the back of average annual growth of 5.8 per cent.
It was clear Sydney airport was under enormous pressure and the government remained committed to building a second airport, Mr Albanese said.
"We have said that we will consider that as part of the consideration of the master plan for Sydney airport in 2009.
"But we want to have all these considerations in the context of a national plan."
The plan would provide certainty for the industry and incentive to plan and invest for the long term, he said.
Mr Albanese said he will release a discussion paper today ahead of a green paper in September.
A white paper, setting out a comprehensive two-decade plan for aviation, will be available in mid-2009.
"We believe we need to move away from the previous government’s policy where aviation policy was on autopilot," he said.
"There was no strategic plan looking at the industry, the way that it related to economic development, the way that it related to the communities involved around our airports.
"It’s time to have a comprehensive review given the importance aviation will continue to play into Australia’s future."
But the leader of the Nationals and transport spokesman, Warren Truss, said the Rudd Labor Government has once again avoided making the hard decisions – and the easier ones too – by announcing yet another policy review, this time on aviation.
“This is at least the 74th review called since the election by the Rudd Government, and it is likely a few others have snuck through under the radar,” Mr Truss said.
“After 11 years in opposition, you would have thought Labor might have known what it was going to do when it was elected to Government,” he said.
“The sad truth is the Government and its very green new minister, Anthony Albanese, have no idea about transport policy and infrastructure. Labor has done absolutely nothing except steal Coalition ideas, sub-contract work out to other bodies and committees headed by Labor mates and call massive reviews with years to report back.
“This latest aviation inquiry is yet another example of Rudd Labor governing by review and avoiding what we pay them to do, which is to make decisions,” Mr Truss said.