WWN #9 – Slowly but surely? Sydney’s Second Airport

What’s been happening? Not much.

Badgerys Creek Airport has been a hot topic of discussion for politicians since the 1940s. So far though, no construction has actually happened.

The new airport is expected to be a catalyst for the long-awaited economic transformation of the Western Sydney region. It is advocated that the airport is an essential piece of infrastructure that will ease pressure on Sydney airport while leading to the creation of more local jobs. According to Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese, it will be more equitable for the two million people that call Western Sydney home. Currently , it can take longer for commuters to get to Sydney Airport than their actual flight to Brisbane or Melbourne and the taxi fare (~$150 AUD) can be more than the airfare (can be as low as ~$70 AUD).

In November 2014, residents in the area were given approximately six months’ notice to leave by the 15th of June 2015. By this date, most tenants had vacated their properties with their homes subsequently demolished. A small group of those tenants were able to extend the deadline by taking legal action in the Federal Circuit Court by arguing that the notices issued by the Commonwealth were “harsh and unconstitutional”.

The primary judge found that when residents entered into a tenancy agreement with the Commonwealth in the 1980s and renewed their leases in the following years, they were reasonably aware that the land was being acquired for the development of an airport. The judge also determined that while it may be difficult for the residents to find alternative accommodation, it was certainly not impossible. The Federal Circuit Court subsequently ruled in favour of the government and accordingly terminated the leases. An order was given that the tenants vacate their properties by December 2015.

What Now? It’s time to move on

“The remaining tenants of Badgerys Creek have lost their appeal against the federal government’s decision” – Sydney Morning Herald

The matter was taken by the residents to the full Federal Court which was officially dismissed this Thursday. They were also ordered to pay the government’s costs.

What’s Next? A Difficult Road Ahead For Everyone

Despite the loss, the residents could continue to pursue this case and take the matter before the High Court. They have been allowed to stay in their homes for at least the next 28 days while they consider their next course of action. If they fail to take action, they will be required to comply and vacate their properties.

As a result of the win, the Turnbull government has given Sydney Airport until May 8 to decide whether it will take up its rights to build and operate the new airport, which is scheduled to open in 2026. However, this is unlikely with Sydney Airport having previously described the project as a “deeply uneconomic investment proposition”. An options paper prepared by the state and federal government suggested that the price tag could be an expensive $25 billion (including servicing costs). This leaves the project fairly open to other land developers who might be interested.


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