Airport demo backfires on Labor

Issue 

By Peter Boyle SYDNEY — An attempt by Marrickville Labor Mayor Barry Cotter to trick inner-city residents into supporting the ALP's plan to build a second airport at Badgerys Creek in outer-western Sydney backfired when demonstrators turned against him during a car cavalcade and march at Kingsford Smith Airport (KSA) on February 25. Marrickville Council had called for support around the demand to "Build Badgerys Creek Airport now!" and to reject alternatives, such as closing KSA and relocating the airport completely outside the city. Cotter organised 80 council trucks to carry banners in support of Badgerys Creek, but the great majority of the 400 marchers, some from the western suburbs, strongly disagreed. Demonstrators tore off "Badgerys must be built" banners from the council trucks until stopped by police, and there were noisy condemnations of the ALP's betrayal of the campaign. The council trucks were withdrawn before a scheduled second lap of the airport's international terminal. Speakers from the Coalition of Airport Action Groups (CAAG), the No Aircraft Noise Party and the Greens said that the Badgerys plan was an ALP manoeuvre to sidetrack the movement. It would serve only as an overflow airport and do nothing to stop the massive increase in air traffic to KSA. Michael Karadjis, a spokesperson for the Democratic Socialists, who have opposed an airport at Badgerys Creek since it was proposed, said there had been a rapid growth of residents' groups in the western suburbs opposing the Badgerys proposal. This had convinced many activists in the inner city that it was wrong to foist the environmental, health and safety problems now associated with KSA onto the western suburbs. "The federal government has called for a second environmental impact study into Badgerys, but its terms of reference preclude investigating other sites for a new airport. It's a waste of time and money", said Karadjis. An airport at Badgerys Creek will also operate 24 hours a day and pollute Sydney's water supply. CAAG chair Felicity Carter promised to work with the western suburbs groups to campaign for a real solution to the airport problems. Cotter's demand to build Badgerys Creek now was divisive, she said.