The first piece of earth has been broken at the construction site for the new Western Sydney Airport.
“Welcome to the future of Sydney – that’s what we are seeing here,” a jubilant Prime Minister Scott Morrison told guests and reporters at Badgerys Creek on Monday morning.
“This will be a piece of economic infrastructure that supports our economy, that supports all Australians from one end of the country to the other.”
The prime minister then radioed to a fleet of excavators the message “Okay Trevor, let it go” and they began digging into the hillside.
The massive construction project will be the first major airport built in Australia since Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport in 1970.
Mr Morrison paid tribute to his Liberal predecessors Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott who did some “very heavy lifting” on the long-awaited project.
The PM said other governments had “kicked the can down the road” for decades.
A joint venture between Australian companies Lendlease and CPB Contractors will be in charge of moving about 1.8 million cubic metres of soil to start levelling the land.
It will also build access roads and drainage to allow major construction to begin in 2019.
Those major earthworks will involve 22 million cubic metres of dirt and rock.
Mr Morrison on Monday said the infrastructure project would create 11,000 jobs during construction and 27,000 when the airport becomes operational in 2026.
“This will be a significant boost to Australia,” he said.
The airport will initially operate with one runway handling international, domestic and freight flights.
It will also be at the centre of the NSW government’s Aerotropolis – a business precinct which governments hope will bring a further 200,000 jobs to Sydney’s west.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian missed Monday’s press conference with the state government represented by Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres.
It’s expected 10 million passengers will pass through the terminal each year and – in the 2050s – a second runway is likely to be added.