2 February 2022
• Hannah Robertson, Melbourne Airport Community Action Group.
We are not anti-aviation. We recognise and value the cultural and economic benefits that flow from the aviation sector. However, we believe Victorians deserve a responsible aviation sector that delivers on the claims it makes to communities.
According to the 2022 Master Plan made public on Monday, Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport expects 3,200 on-site jobs will be created during construction of the third runway. They anticipate another 37,000 jobs will be created state-wide by 2046. The Master Plan compares ‘build’ to ‘no build’, but does it factor in growth at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport that would happen if Tullamarine Airport doesn’t expand? Does it look at the jobs and economic benefits of expanding the rail network so that we can travel through the cities we currently fly over? Both of these would open up economic opportunities for regional centres and allow us to see more of our remarkable state as we travel across it.
Western Sydney Airport was promoted as offering a ‘jobs bonanza’ to local communities, but the ‘Jobs for the West’ report found the job forecasts were vastly exaggerated. Where they claimed there would be 8,700 new jobs, similar airports supported only 1,600. Furthermore, less than a quarter of the 800 construction jobs were expected to go to local residents. A similar study of the economic benefits of Heathrow Airport claimed its expansion would bring found it may actually be a net cost to the British economy. Is aviation really good for the economy after all?
Melbourne’s west, like Sydney’s, is an area of significant economic disadvantage. Melbourne Airport has been a major employer in the area for fifty years, but Brimbank, the local government area where the most people will be affected by the new runway, is Melbourne’s second most disadvantaged LGA. Are the existing jobs at Melbourne Airport jobs that bring prosperity, security and career progression? Will the new ones be?
The Master Plan also forecasts that Melbourne Airport will contribute $4.5 billion to the Victorian economy by 2046. According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics the avoidable costs of traffic congestion in Melbourne alone will reach roughly $8 billion a year by 2030.
Combining that with the costs to taxpayers to build the roads and rail links required to service Melbourne Airport’s expansion amounts to a substantial economic burden. For example, it is estimated the Melbourne Airport Rail Link will cost $15bn.
What about tourism? Australians spend more money overseas than overseas visitors spend in Australia – a net loss to our economy.
We are calling for an independent review of the promised jobs and economic benefits of expanding Melbourne Airport that takes into account alternatives such as Avalon Airport and an expanded rail network.