The NSW election took place over a month ago, but it’s not too late for federal shadow transport and infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese to lampoon the Greens for their pre-election transport policy.
“One of the advantages of representing a minor political party is that because you aren’t trying to win government, you never have to deliver on your promises,” Albanese wrote in an op-ed for The Australian on Tuesday, which he later re-published on his own site.
“But that fact should not excuse politicians from minor parties from offering genuine, workable solutions to policy challenges facing the community.”
Prior to the election, the Greens proposed a plan which included shutting down the existing Kingsford Smith airport, cancelling development of the second airport at Badgerys Creek, and building a new airport outside the Sydney basin, connected to the city via a high speed rail line.
Albanese isn’t a fan.
“If this were put in place, Sydney would be the only global city without an airport,” he observed.
“It’s the stuff of fantasy. It has no place in the world of serious policy debate.”
Albanese said that individual, “realistic” Greens party members know the policy is not a practical one.
“Yet the policy remains and enables the party to campaign for zero impact of aviation activity anywhere,” the former deputy prime minister wrote, “despite the fact modern aviation is a driver of economic activity.”
Albanese accused the Greens of “giving up” on the decades-long debate surrounding Sydney’s aviation needs. He said that before opposing the existing plans for another airport at Badgerys Creek, the party opposed the proposal to build the airport at an alternative site.
“The Greens opposed Wilton, too,” Albanese recalled.
“In the light of this, their proposal to banish Sydney’s airport to an unnamed site and to link it to the city with a high-speed rail line cannot be taken seriously.
“The comprehensive study into the plan to build a high-speed rail line from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra found that 67km of tunnelling in Sydney would be necessary for it to operate.
“It’s a serious project worthy of support. But, like any major infrastructure project, high-speed rail would affect communities along the route. Tunnels require exhausts. Construction creates inconvenience.
“Delivering high-speed rail, just like building the Badgerys Creek airport, will require explanation of the benefits and broad support across the political spectrum.
“Indeed, it is likely that the challenges of high-speed rail construction will create issues over a far wider area than the second airport.”
Albanese accused the Greens party of being more interested in exploiting local communities’ fear of change for political gain, than it is on acting on principle.
“Given the Greens’ record on opposing a second Sydney airport, opposing the Moorebank Intermodal – which will take freight off trucks and on to rail – as well as opposing safety upgrades to the Pacific Highway, it would be remarkable if they did not confect reasons to oppose high-speed rail in practice,” he pointed out.
“When it comes to economic infrastructure, the Greens are political opportunists.”