FORMER deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese has launched a scathing attack on the head of Sydney Airport, accusing Max Moore-Wilton of seeking to protect a financial benefit for his company by opposing a second airport.
The opposition infrastructure spokesman last night used parliamentary privilege to accuse the Sydney Airport Corporation chairman of having an "enormous conflict of interest" which would come at the expense of western Sydney jobs.
Mr Albanese, who as former transport minister backed a second Sydney airport, also raised questions about Mr Moore-Wilton's past as the country's top bureaucrat under the Howard government, which sold Sydney Airport only months before Mr Moore-Wilton resigned to run it.
He asked what Mr Moore-Wilton knew of cabinet decisions to change the conditions of the airport sale in June 2002, to give the company a 30-year first right of refusal to build a second airport, should it ever be approved.
"Mr Moore-Wilton is perfectly entitled to oppose a second Sydney airport," Mr Albanese said.
"But as the head of a company that has a monopoly over the existing airport, any fair analysis would conclude he has an enormous conflict of interest.
"I must say I was shocked during the recent election campaign by the depth of distortion and misrepresentation by the chairman of the Sydney Airports Corporation - Max Moore-Wilton - in his crusade against the construction of a second airport in Sydney."
Mr Moore-Wilton recently accused Mr Albanase and Treasurer Joe Hockey - who both back Badgerys Creek - of having conflicts of interest by refusing to lift the flight cap and curfew at Sydney Airport, set as conditions of the original sale, because it would increase noise over their electorates.
Mr Albanese hit back last night in parliament: "Until December 20, 2002, Mr Moore-Wilton was secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. On June 28, 2002, the Howard government finalised the sale of a lease of the Sydney Airport to Southern Cross Airports Corporation for $4.2 billion.
"If it was decided to build a second airport in Sydney, the successful tenderer for the existing airport would have first right of refusal for its construction and operation for 30 years.
"I understand the condition was initially proposed to last 20 years but was increased to 30 years at the request of the buyer.
"One wonders what considerations were behind that and what was the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's knowledge of those considerations."