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Published 01 March 2013 11:58, Updated 02 March 2013 11:49
Tony Perich says the noise impact of a new airport at Badgery’s Creek will not be as bad as has been predicted. Photo: Rob Homer
BRW Rich lister Tony Perich, who is developing vast swaths of land in Sydney’s south-west, has put his support behind an airport at Badgery’s Creek and says businesses in the area have seen the writing on the wall.
Political game-playing by both major parties has caused the decision on whether to build a second Sydney airport to be shelved until after the September 14 election, out of fear of alienating marginal seats in western Sydney, despite growing support for the airport because of the jobs it will create.
“Everyone knows it’s got to come to Badgery’s Creek because they [the federal government] own the land,” Perich tells BRW. “I don’t particularly want it out there but it’s going to happen and we’ve got to accept it, and we have accepted it because they’ve bought part of our land.”
The federal government has acquired thousands of hectares of land in western Sydney and spent hundreds of millions of dollars since the Badgery’s Creek site was set aside for an airport by the Hawke Labor government 27 years ago. Families who had lived there for generations were moved on, and bodies were even dug up from graveyards.
Perich fought the Commonwealth in court through the 1990s over compensation after the acquisition of part of his dairy farm holdings, and eventually won a lucrative $21.5 million payment for the land and his relocation costs.
“I lost 20 years of my life because of them bloody fools,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald in the early 2000s, during another bout of political wrangling over the airport. “They grabbed the land, and now they say they don’t need it.”
But since that time, Perich has changed his tune. He has commenced development of what will ultimately be about 12,000 houses on his holdings in the area, and sold more than 700 already. Much of the land in commercial centres such Oran Park will be retained by the Perich family. What the area now needs, he says, is jobs.
“It’s all over and done with, we’ve done our whingeing and lost,” Perich says. “We’ve accepted it’s going to come there, that’s going to create jobs.
“The whole [south-west] growth area is as big as Canberra . . . We’ve got to create the same employment.”
On Thursday local businesses and councils urged the government to commit to the airport and get on with building it.
“The airport for us will bring a lot of jobs,” Perich says. “And that’s what’s needed. That’s what I’m saying, it’s got the potential to be as big as Parramatta, bigger than Parramatta if the airport comes. You can imagine it, can’t you? It would be incredible.”
He said the noise impact wouldn’t affect as many homes as some people believed.
“The federal government owns the land, and everyone knows that’s what it was bought for – the airport – no-one can complain,” Perich says.
“[The noise] won’t affect us. The railway line only has to go about five kilometres and it’s at Badgery’s Creek, it’s not far to go there.”