Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek: how to get it right

It’s been a debate, the origins of which can be traced to now scratchy recordings from the Whitlam era, that has been mired in the seemingly intractable politics of marginal seats.  But, if Sydney is to have a second airport, rather than another second-class one, it needs to not just consider the bonanza of local jobs that it will generate but also the millions of travellers who will use it.
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Sydney’s airport record doesn’t augur well. It can’t presently even provide a proper dedicated airport train link with airline passengers, after often long flights, having to fight for space with ordinary commuters on ordinary commuter trains day and night and with not even allocated space for their luggage. And the airport can barely manage an orderly taxi queue let alone a half-decent taxi system to efficiently service a distant second airport.

But, by the same token, don’t write off the existing Sydney Airport. Despite its well-known litany of deficiencies it’s a rarity and unquestionably an asset, and will remain so, since most major airports, unlike Kingsford-Smith, are inconveniently distant from their city centres which business and leisure inevitably want and need to access.

Connections are crucial. Seoul’s Incheon Airport is often cited as being among the world’s best. But the hour-and-a-half-plus road journey into town, in this traveller’s experience, is a nightmare, used to  overshadow the excellent terminal experience (the airport has since introduced an express train service). And it can take two excruciating hours to get from Tokyo’s main airport by so-called limousine bus (less by the preferable Narita Express train service).

Interestingly, the Japanese, and international travellers, have tired of Narita with Haneda, the airport it displaced in 1978 asTokyo’s main’s facility, having made a comeback. Haneda, just 14 kilometres from central Tokyo (a similar distance to Sydney Airport from  and city), has upgraded its terminals, built a fourth runway and attracted international carriers back.

Although the Badgerys Creek site is fortunately not as remote from the city centre as Narita or Incheon it could feel just as far without a proper fast train link. It just won’t do for Sydney to settle for a second-best second airport link in the manner of the existing one. It needs to be a proper, fast and efficient airport train, similar to one that services Hong Kong Airport, not some hybrid commuter train compromise. Oh, and some luggage racks would do nicely.

Although it’s important to get the terminal buildings and associated facilites right at any new airport, it’s not just the equivalent at Singapore’s Changi Airport that make it a world-beater. It’s the ease of access. Because the Singapore Government makes vehicle ownership a costly exercise for its citizens in order to limit traffic and pollution, travel in clean, safe and well-operated, taxis to and from the airport is an near stress-free exercise.

There is another important reason for getting Sydney’s second airport right from a traveller’s standpoint since by the time it is built inbound tourism is likely to be one of Australia’s top export industries, and one that governments will have to finally take seriously with nine million overseas visitors forecast to visit in 2020.

Despite the growing importance of the western suburbs it’s almost certain that foreign tourists, many of whom will have begun their journey at airport hubs superior to any that Australia can provide, will want to stay close to the CBD and the harbour than the Parramatta River. But a least Badgerys Creek will be a little closer to time-honoured tourist hot-spots like Echo Point and koala sanctuaries.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Scott Morrison urges Asia to strengthen its borders to ‘stop the boats’

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has urged Asia to strengthen its borders to stop asylum seekers on boats. Photo: James AlcockImmigration Minister Scott Morrison has urged Asia to strengthen its borders to stop boat smugglers, terrorism and organised crime, in a speech in Malaysia on Monday night.
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On his third trip to Malaysia in six months, Mr Morrison emphasised the need for stronger regional borders to strengthen the government’s tough border policy.

“You cannot stop the boats, unless you are prepared to actually stop boats,” he told the audience at the Putrajaya Forum in Kuala Lumper.

“Co-operation on tighter border control arrangements in regional ports of entry and more restrictive visa conditions in both Malaysia and Indonesia have also assisted deter the arrival of potential illegal immigrants to Australia into the region,” he said.

“Tending such regional borders is a job for all of us.

“A strong physical deterrent on your border, whether on land or at sea, is a mandatory prerequisite for effective border protection.”

In February, Mr Morrison announced that the Abbott government would also donate two retired Bay Class vessels to Malaysia by mid-2015 “to assist in countering maritime people smuggling in the region”.

But the Greens have criticised the speech, saying Mr Morrison is “preaching cruelty to Asia”.

“Touring the region and advocating for crueller treatment of refugees is no way for Australia to behave,” the Greens’ immigration spokeswoman, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Gone are the days when Scott Morrison was ‘shocked by the treatment that people receive in Malaysia.’ Now he wants them to get tougher.”

In 2012, the Labor government maintained that the Malaysia solution, which would take 800 asylum seekers in exchange for resettling 4000 refugees in Australia, would deter asylum seekers. At the time then opposition leader Tony Abbott opposed the idea on the grounds that asylum seekers could be subject to mistreatment in Malaysia.

Now Mr Morrison has visited regional neighbours including Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

He has also given his strongest indication that the government is close to sealing a deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees from Nauru. Speaking to the ABC last week, Mr Morrison said that no one on Nauru would be permanently settled, raising the possibility that at least 1000 asylum seekers who are found to be refugees could be resettled in one of Asia’s poorest countries.

“In Nauru, for example, the agreement was never there for permanent resettlement in Nauru, but there will be a lengthy period of temporary settlement,” he said.

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Is a new airport at Badgerys Creek really needed?

Is a second airport the best way to solve Sydney’s air travel congestion problems? Photo: Tamara DeanWithin weeks of taking office Treasurer Joe Hockey commissioned a Productivity Commission inquiry into the funding of infrastructure.
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Its draft report released in March identified what it said was a classic example of how not to do it.

“The National Broadband Network, Australia’s largest public infrastructure project, was commenced without a cost-benefit analysis having been done,” it said.

“It also appears that detailed analysis of the project was focused, from a relatively early stage, on how best to implement the government’s policy objectives, rather than considering the merits of different options.”

It sounds like Badgerys Creek.

The Commission said the proper process was for the government to first work out what it wanted to achieve (such as moving planes or passengers quickly) and then work out the cheapest means of achieving it. It might be congestion taxes or time-of-day pricing.

Only then, if nothing else would do the job more cheaply, should it build something new.

To spend billions without first having precisely identified the problem and investigated cheaper ways of solving it would be to waste public money.

I am in possession of some back-of-the-envelope calculations done by a Sydney economist who has tried to do that for the Sydney Airport.

It is well located for travellers (much better than Badgerys Creek) but has a curfew and is limited to around 80 aircraft movements per hour.

It only ever reaches 80 aircraft movements during the morning and afternoon peaks. If regional aircraft were encouraged to move to Bankstown and cargo flights to move to Richmond the peaks would vanish.

Regional aircraft need only 1.8 kilometres of airstrip to takeoff. They don’t need to 2.5 and 3.96 kilometres available at Sydney airport. Squandering it on them is “an inefficient use of a scarce aviation asset”.

Regional aircraft typically carry fewer than 80 passengers. A Boeing B747 takes 396, an Airbus 330-300 takes 290. Allowing regional aircraft to use valuable landing slots at peak times means the airport is carrying many fewer passengers than it can.

Regional aircraft typically account for 20 per cent of movements at Sydney Airport.

Most could be banished to Bankstown if its runway was upgraded from 1.4 to 1.8 kilometres and its capacity lifted from 20 to 30 tonnes. A noise levy at the Bankstown and Sydney airports could pay for insulation in the affected homes. The training schools that presently use Bankstown could be moved to Camden.

With commendable understatement the economist says the costs would be “negligible compared to the cost of building a second airport at Badgerys Creek”.

And that’s just the start. Peak period charging could move non-time sensitive customers to other times of the day.

“Applying the laws of supply and demand to address capacity constraints could prove a unique experience for many stakeholders,” the economist says. “Not allowing pricing to ration the shortage of landing and takeoff slots during the peak periods means not using an existing asset efficiently and can no longer be justified.”

And the airlines themselves could reconfigure cabins to carry more customers by allocating seats more efficiently between business and economy class.

Trying all of these things first, as the Productivity Commission suggests, would postpone the need for a second airport. And they might make us realise we don’t really want it.

It’s worth asking who would use it.

The economist writes that Badgerys Creek will become a “spillover” airport.

“Passengers are unlikely to be impressed by the commute time from Badgerys Creek to the centre of Sydney.”

We will continue to want to use Sydney and the airlines will as well, just as they prefer Tullamarine to Avalon in Victoria.

The economist reckons the government has Buckley’s of getting its money back for decades.

“It is likely that Sydney Airport will commence pricing policies for the off-peak period to ensure that Sydney Airport does not suffer revenue leakage to Badgerys Creek,” he warns.

I don’t know whether that is right or not, but I would like to know the government had tried other solutions before settling on spending billions building a new airport in an inconvenient location.

As the Commission says, the first step is to identify the problem.

@1petermartin

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Beacon Lighting shares surge on debut

Bright start: Beacon Lighting founder and current executive chairman Ian Robinson. Photo: John WoudstraShares in lighting retailer Beacon Lighting Group have surged on listing, up 50 per cent to 99¢ in early trading after debuting at 11am AEDT in what is shaping to be one of the best IPOs of the past 12 months.
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The team at lead broker Morgans, headed up by Brisbane-based director and head of corporate finance Sophie Mitchell, closed the subscription for the initial public offering in early March having raised $63.855 million through the allocation of 96.75 million shares priced at 66¢ each. The deal valued the company at $142 million.

Participating institutions include Wilson Asset Management, BT Investment Management, Perpetual and Paradice Investment Management. Chief executive of stockbroking and financial planning group Austock Bill Bessemer, was employed in a private capacity as lead corporate advisor on the deal.

Beacon Lighting Group owns 71 stores and the brand has another 14 stores run as franchises. The company plans to open six more fully owned stores each year for the next five years.

Beacon says one of its advantages is that it sources 90 per cent of its product directly rather than going through wholesalers. More than 80 per cent of stock is manufactured offshore, mostly in China, under the Beacon brand. The business has an average gross sales margin of 64 per cent.

Almost 2 per cent of revenue is earned from online sales and the board has set a target of garnering 5 per cent to 6 per cent of sales through the website within three years.

Three years ago the company started selling its designs to international lighting retailers, mostly Europe, with a long term strategy to grow the wholesale export business.

Pro forma sales revenue is expected to reach $150.26 million for the current financial year, while net profit is estimated at $11.46 million. The company has forecast earnings per share of 5.3¢ in fiscal 2014, and plans to pay a dividend of 1.4¢ a share fully franked.

The light fixtures retailer did not raise any new capital through the float, which was a vehicle for Martin Hanman, an electrician who has been a silent partner since 1997, to cash out his 45 per cent stake.

The first Beacon Lighting store was opened on Melbourne’s Chapel Street in 1967 by John Strahan who went on to found Sheraton Lighting. Ian Robinson started as an employee in 1969 and by 1975 had bought the business; his family remains in control of Beacon through its 55 per cent holding. Escrow conditions will prevent the Robinsons from selling their shares for two years, although Mr Robinson has said he and his family believe the company has long-term growth potential and at this stage have no plans to sell out when the escrow period expires.

Mr Robinson now holds the role of executive chairman since his son, Glen Robinson, took over as chief executive mid last year.

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Kitchen spy: Ben O’Donoghue

Ben O’Donoghue in his home kitchen. Photo: Harrison Saragossi Ben O’Donoghue in his kitchen in Brisbane. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
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Having worked overseas in high-end restaurants including London’s River Cafe for most of his career, Ben O’Donoghue settled in Brisbane in 2008. Last October he opened a suburban cafe, Billykart Kitchen, with his wife De-Arne. He’d developed a celebrity profile through several TV series, including Surfing the Menu which he made with Curtis Stone. The new casual dining venture is a manageable lifestyle move as he and De-Arne raise their children Ruby 11, Herb, 9, and Cash, 7. He attributes his love of cooking to his culinary savvy grandmother who lived with the family when he was a child, and the decision to become a chef to a Eureka moment making his first bearnaise sauce at 18. He’ll reveal some of Singapore’s best-kept food secrets with friend Tom Williams in Tom & Ben’s Singapore Sling on April 15 on Seven.

My toolkit

My KitchenAid mixer is fantastic for cakes but it has all the attachments so I make pasta, ice-cream and sausages as well. The stone mortar and pestle is a major tool used. I bought it in Chinatown in London and carried it all the way back. I make all our milkshakes and smoothies with a Braun stick blender. All my pots are Le Creuset. For frypans I just buy cheap non-stick ones and when they’re ruined I just buy another one.

Most memorable meal

When I was working at The River Cafe in London we had a trip to Italy to source olive oil and we went to a restaurant on the side of a mountain in Alba. I had pheasant baked whole in farro which was presented at the table, then taken away, deboned and re-served. There were stuffed baked onions topped with loads of white truffle. One of the courses was simply a fried egg with white truffle shaved on top of it. There was baby goat turning on a spit in the hearth so we had some of that; it was amazing. Lots of beautiful barolo and other local wines and we all had zabaglione served from a copper bowl in glasses for dessert.

I’m cooking

My last dinner at home I did a saddle of lamb, stuffed with spinach and rolled and slow-roasted. I served it with some sauteed greens and potatoes and a nice bit of jus I nicked from work.

Secret vice

There’s usually a bag of Kit Kats in the cupboard for those sneaky chocolate moments.

Wish I had

A cooktop in a central island so I could stand and cook and watch everything going on in the house instead of having my back to it.

Inspiration

I get it from travelling, reading, eating out, pretty much everywhere. I just bought The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz which I’m enjoying. And I reckon Yotam Ottolenghi’s books are great too.

I’m drinking

I drink Liptons tea at home with milk and only drink coffee at work. I’m drinking Howard Park merlot a bit lately. I did a range of wines through Wine Selector so we have some Ben O’Donoghue pinot gris. I like tequila so there’s a Kah reposado (oak aged) in a Day of the Dead bottle.

Saturday night tipple

I’d start with a cold beer, say a 28 Pale Ale from the Burleigh brewing company, and then go on to a nice glass of red wine. I love cabernet so anything from the Coonawarra’s good.

Celebration

Billecart champagne!

Favourite

I lived in a warehouse flat in London for a few years and I had a big solid wooden workbench put in. We needed to cut a bit out of it to put the sink in and that piece became my chopping board. It’s been with me for 16 years now and I wouldn’t like to see it go.

The staples

My pantry: Megachef fish sauce is my favourite one because it has quite a pure flavour. I use it to season south-east Asian curries, soups, salads and noodles. Barilla pastas in loads of different shapes are great for the kids or a quick meal. There’s always an array of spices in the cupboard, generally in small jars so we use them up quickly, and they stay fresh. And there’s chocolate for making muffins, just a cheap one from Aldi for cooking.

My fridge: A number of open jars of relishes and jams – our fridge is a disaster! I make my own chilli sauces so there’s a few of those. Hellmann’s American mustard for hot dogs because the kids love that. Heinz tomato ketchup’s there in force. Lots of fruit and veg, obviously. Apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries. Bornhoffen yoghurt which we have with raspberries and honey. And there’s Mainland tasty cheese slices for the kids’ lunches. I have chicken thighs, pork and beef mince, all good for quick dinners. I might make red chicken curry with the thighs and stir-fries with the mince.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.