Push for major airport project

KEY regional advocates will meet with State Planning Minister Matthew Guy within weeks in an effort to convince the government a third airport for Victoria should be built in Gippsland, or at least in the state’s south-east.

The need for a third major airport for Victoria, as the Melbourne Airport reaches capacity, has been identified by the government as part of its major metropolitan planning discussion paper released last October, Melbourne, let’s talk about the future.

In its recent response to the discussion paper, Committee for Gippsland has argued Gippsland and the south-east are ideally positioned to accommodate a new airport to complement other planned infrastructure links, including the Port of Hastings.

Speaking with The Express C4G chief executive Mary Aldred said the government had already indicated it was looking to the south-east of Melbourne for a new airport and she understood its planning department personnel had initiated discussions in the cities of Casey and Cardinia to explore options.

“When we meet with Mr Guy, at the beginning of May, to go over our submission (to the discussion paper), we will encourage him to also consider other Gippsland options,” Ms Aldred said.

The local submission argues an airport in this region would provide a range of benefits not only to Gippsland but state-wide.

It refers to potential locations including Tooradin, with its proximity to the Port of Hastings, and Traralgon with its GippsAero base at the Latrobe Valley airport, though Ms Aldred said “we are not wedded to the idea of one singular location, we are just pushing for the south-east or Gippsland”.

“For Gippsland and the south-east to meet its ambition of developing as a national food hub, improve its productivity and enhance employment and higher education participation, a domestic airport in the region is required,” the C4G report reads.

The Gippsland committee also suggested private sector engagement could be sought for the potential ownership and management of a third airport, which could generate around 8000 direct and 24,000 indirect jobs, and “present immediate opportunities for the region’s local economy”.

Ms Aldred said while major infrastructure such as airports typically took a long time to build, the planning stages “could happen quite quickly” and if a site could be secured by the government this year, it could potentially be built “to maximise opportunities” flowing from the new Port of Hastings, expected to be complete by 2030.

The port would be a “massive development for our region… for food, coal and other export commodities,” Ms Aldred said.