Your recent editorial about long-lasting political indecision over a second airport for Sydney may not be of much interest to residents in Bendigo.
But much the same kind of lack of imagination and political will can also be seen right here in Bendigo concerning a jet airport for this region.
There would be few other places in the world such as Bendigo – with a population of about 100,000, and with growth in the offing – that has not already developed a jet airport or has one being planned.
Yet here, for the last few years, we have seen our council planning to spend millions of dollars on upgrading our present restricted-hours airport so that it can handle a few heavier, turbo-prop aircrafts.
The airport is too small for commercial jets and will remain too small after the upgrade.
The cost of a site for a jet airport would be around
$10 million – about the same amount wasted on an unnecessary and useless upgrade of Hargreaves Mall.
In the council’s own economic development strategy plan, developed just a few years ago, employment increases arising from exports were shown to be a major factor in local growth.
Yet any company which exports would be a potential user of a local airport.
A new airport would be an absolute magnet for many different aspects of economic growth and local employment.
In recent times we have seen the federal government produce a White Paper on the Asian Century and we have seen our premier urge Bendigo to look for added business associations with China. All of this sensible advice will count for little unless, somehow, we can get senior council staff to look at what is happening elsewhere and to show some vision for our future.
A review of the council’s structure and operations will provide an opportunity to get some much needed changes in our local economic development planning. One can only hope that the opportunity is not lost and that Bendigo will soon be working on a plan for a new airport.