Economist prioritises jobs growth

AN AIRPORT at Badgerys Creek will only create 20,000 new jobs if it is a "comprehensive, fully functioning, international airport, not a strip of asphalt through a cow paddock", an economics expert says.

Professor Phillip O'Neill [pictured], research fellow at the Urban Research Centre, who said the figure, a projection from the Deloitte Access Economics report released late last year, could be possible.

"But it depends what sort of airport this will be," Professor O'Neill said. "Without those details, it's impossible to know how many jobs could be created.

"Airports are great generators of jobs and 20,000 jobs for western Sydney would be a very welcome improvement because the region has a major jobs deficit."

Professor O'Neill said western Sydney needed an extra 20-25,000 jobs every 18 months, "simply to keep its head above water and to meet the job needs of its growing population".

But he said the state government already had an excellent plan for generating local employment for the past 10 years.

"The Metropolitan Strategy, developed in 2004, outlined the goal of creating jobs growth in the designated regional cities: Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith and major subregional cities Campbelltown, Bankstown and Blacktown," he said. "These centres aren't starting from scratch. They have already had a substantial investment in public administration, infrastructure and retailing, so they have all the necessary amenities.

"Discussions over Badgerys Creek shouldn't distract people from the need for major job creation and western Sydney's regional centres.

"If it ever goes ahead, the employment the airport creates should not replace the targeted employment growth in these areas."

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