John Wagner has a short and sharp message for Australia's Prime Minister: “Tony Abbott calls himself the Infrastructure Prime Minister – well he should start building some infrastructure.”
Wagner clearly feels he occupies the moral high ground when it comes to actually building infrastructure rather than talking about it. After all, he is chairman of family construction company Wagners, which built the newly opened Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba. The A$200 million airport took just over 19 months to construct.
Wellcamp Airport (for short) is the first major new airport built in Australia in the last 50 years. At the time of this issue going to press, the first QantasLink flight had just landed at the airport. In all, QantasLink will be running 11 return flights a week to and from Sydney.
The Wagner family is confident there will be demand for the airport, which has attracted flights from Regional Express as well as Qantas Link. It serves a catchment area population of 344,000 and is two hours' drive from Brisbane.
Constructed entirely by the private sector, Wagner believes it's a good demonstration of what can be done. Speaking of the proposed new second Sydney airport at Badgery's Creek, Wagner said the government needed to “get out of the way” and let the private sector “get on with the job”.
“They will do study after study after study and they won't get an outcome – it is about outcomes,” he added for good measure.