Chapter 2, The Background

Canberra has needed a second airfield for the last 60 years due to the increasing conflict between light aircraft and jet transport aircraft.  Western cities have two airports for this reason.  Canberra is the outstanding exception. Here is a list of Australia's major cities and their airfield infrastructure.

Over the last nine years the government and local aviation interests have developed a plan for an airfield to cater for light and general aviation.

 The studies have been completed.  A site has been identified and an aviation study has found it suitable.  A feasibility study has found that it is economically viable.  A consultant hired to provide an overview of the situation has stated that the proposal should go ahead.  The ACT Government holds most of the land required.  The development cost is low and will be recouped within a few years of operation.

This web site examines the reasons why the ACT Government has chosen not to go ahead with the proposal.  The evidence is drawn from a number of freedom of information (FOI) enquiries.  The ACT Government publishes the results of FOI requests on line.  They can be found here, here and hereHowever, it aggregates documents into humongous PDFs, so, while this site relies on these FOIs, we have loaded the individual documents into this site so that extensive searches are not required.

 By early 2005, the officer in the Chief Minister’s Department responsible for the proposal, Mr Andy Wilson, wrote this summary of the situation to date.  He pointed out that the case for a forward fire-fighting capability was made and would support an agreement with NSW, there was industry support, the costings looked reasonable and the site looked appropriate.  He recommended that further studies be made to confirm these findings.

Mr Wilson had approached his task as you would expect from a senior and experienced public servant.  He has no background in aviation, but approached various experts, signed on a couple of aviation consultants and built a picture of the aviation systems and requirements.

Sometime around 2006, Mr Wilson left the ACT Government temporarily, and the Williamsdale proposal was handed to the ACT government Business and Economic Development section. There is no record of any officer in this section attempting to familiarise themselves with the aviation context with which they were working.  In fact, the documents show that they paid very little attention to the work related to the proposal to date, and seemed to rely on heresay and perhaps their own prejudices, as I will show in the following chapters.

The relatively smooth process up to 2006 which showed the desirability of the second airfield seemed to have created some alarm within other areas of the government, who for their own reasons determined that this would not go ahead.  In a letter dated 19th of September 2005 the Director, Business and Economic Development wrote to Chris Price, the original proponent of the Williamsdale proposal saying there was not a public interest case, that the Government Solicitor’s Office was not prepared to examine the issues of governance and that the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) claimed that the resumption of land was complex and would straddle some five blocks.

Mr Cox claims this letter was sent on the 19th of September 2006, and the date on the letter is in error.

This is an assessment that is either stunningly incompetent, or corrupt.


Home Chapter 3