The former Labor Left firebrand who oversaw the purchase of all the properties proposed for an airport at Badgerys Creek, Tom Uren, has praised Treasurer Joe Hockey for backing a second airport for Sydney.
Mr Uren, a powerful cabinet minister in the Whitlam government who found himself relegated to the outer ministry under prime minister Bob Hawke, fought unsuccessfully for more than a decade to win Labor's unqualified support for a second airport.
Labor's transport spokesman Anthony Albanese has offered Prime Minister Tony Abbott a truce in political posturing in a bid to get Sydney's second airport under way, promising he would be constructive and not run a marginal seat campaign around Badgerys Creek if that was the chosen site.
Mr Uren contacted Fairfax Media after Mr Hockey said in an exclusive interview last week that a second airport was essential to promote growth and investment.
''Politics aside, it is refreshing that Joe Hockey calls for a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek,'' Mr Uren said. ''If Western Sydney is to rationally cope with present and future growth, we need a major catalyst for employment.
''We should develop an airport in a visionary way with rail, road and fuel servicing.''
He said there should be a fuel pipeline to such an airport to take tankers off the road.
He conceded it might seem unusual for a lifetime Labor man who was once deputy leader of the ALP to support a Liberal treasurer, but said he had long believed western Sydney must have such a major project to underpin employment opportunities in the area.
He also said he found Mr Hockey's view courageous compared with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell's continuing refusal to back an airport at Badgerys Creek.
On Sunday, Mr Albanese appeared to be offering the Abbott government that rarest of commodities in super-heated politics: bipartisan support for a contentious decision involving billions of dollars and large numbers of votes.
''You need bipartisanship … because it [construction], by definition, goes for more than one term,'' he told Sky News. ''If you just play politics with it, then it won't happen and because four out of every 10 flights go through Sydney, this is an issue of national productivity.''
He described the absence of increased capacity at Sydney as ''a handbrake on growth''.
Mr Uren, as minister for local government and administration in the Hawke government, ensured the purchase of a large number of properties for an airport at Badgerys Creek before he stepped down from the ministry in 1987.
But senior ministers decided instead to support a third runway at Sydney Airport, leaving Mr Uren bitterly disappointed.
Mr Uren is also the long-time political mentor of Mr Albanese, who privately supported an airport at Badgerys Creek but was unable to change his party's official opposition to one under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
More recently, the Labor Party has started to warm to the idea of a western Sydney airport. After two years of prevarication, state Labor leader John Robertson said he supported an airport at Badgerys Creek, provided it was built with sufficient transport infrastructure. Federal leader Bill Shorten has also said Badgerys Creek is the best option for an airport.