'Out There Summit' - Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue

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Friday 28th April, 2017

Good morning.

A year ago at this Summit I laid out my Top 10 priorities for Western Sydney.

Things that matter bear repeating over and over.

Allow me to rattle them off again now, in just one minute, before I hone in on one specific area of priority focus.

  1. Growing local jobs. We need to create half a million additional jobs in the West, over the next 25 years.
  2. Make Western Sydney Airport a success. If we get it right it can be the single greatest jobs driver for Western Sydney. And let’s give it a rail connection from day one.
  3. A relentless focus on South-Western Sydney.  800,000 people live there now. In less than twenty years that’ll be 1.3 million.
  4. Revitalise the Olympic Peninsula. From Camellia, back along the Parramatta River, east to Rhodes. Fix the transport and build communities, not just apartments.
  5. Give real authority to the Greater Sydney Commission.  Give them the power they need to get the job done.
  6. Better planning for schools.
  7. Investment in language education.                                                                    
  8. Town centre renewal. Parramatta is the successful model that we need to apply to the river cities of Penrith and Liverpool, and to Campbelltown.
  9. Arts and culture.  I recall that the State once had a Premier who came to this Summit and passionately advocated for an entire re-location of the Powerhouse to western Sydney. Weren’t those the days?  Well, I’m holding the line on this.
  10. Re-think social housing. Western Sydney is bursting with opportunity and success and growth. But we cannot forget the poor, and the pockets of disadvantage. New solutions to the multi-generational problems in our public housing estates.

So there’s my Top 10 priorities.

But today I want to talk to you about one area of policy. Education.

Consider the demography.

Western Sydney, compared to the nation as a whole, skews young and multicultural.

When you hear talk of western Sydney’s huge potential it stems from this: it’s fast-growing, youthful and multicultural population. 

And so, investing in education just makes sense.

We have to build new schools, and upgrade existing ones.

Western Sydney needs 170,000 new school places – in less than 15 years.

Why is it that we as a State right now can allocate $17 billion to a single road project, but not find the money we need to deliver the schools we need?

Are we content to accept a situation where it will take 45 years to deliver the new school places we will need within the next 15 years?

Well, I’m not.

I am committing a 2019 New South Wales Labor Government to an unprecedented schools building program.

I’ll ensure the Greater Sydney Commission has the power to take unused and under-used land from other Government departments and agencies to build new schools - and expand existing ones.

We need an immediate audit of all government land to identify priority sites for new schools and for school expansions.

In 2019, the University of Sydney is moving its Faculty of Health Sciences from Lidcombe to Camperdown.

The Lidcombe site is owned by the State Government.

This existing education campus is a perfect site for a large new co-educational high school.

This Sunday, I’m holding a residents meeting in the suburb of Wentworth Point.  One of Australia’s fastest-growing suburbs. Three kilometres from here.

High-rise, high density living on the Parramatta River.

But no school.

For five state budgets in a row, people were promised a new school for Wentworth Point to open on day one of the 2017 school year.

When the 2017 school year began, construction had not begun on that school.

The nearest school, at Newington, 4 kilometres away, now has over 1,000 students.

It is stuffed full of demountables, and there’s barely a blade of grass for the kids to run around on.

We have to do better than this.

We also need to increase our investment in language education.

A third of Western Sydney’s people were born overseas.

Tonight I’ll be in St. Marys with Filipino dancers.

Tomorrow night I’ll be at a big Christian Lebanese event in Fairfield.

And on Sunday morning I’ll be with Auburn’s Islamic community, in the heart of my own local electorate.

This is just a normal weekend for me, working in western Sydney.

 In a world which more than ever recognises language proficiency and cultural diversity – Western Sydney has very serious natural advantages.

But fewer than 4 in 10 of our schools have a language program.

For every NSW child learning Japanese, there are 10 in Queensland and Victoria.

And in a city with a considerable population of Chinese, only half as many are learning Mandarin – as in Victoria.

A Labor Government led by me will ensure that every single primary student is taught a second language.

Because smart societies invest in language education.

Everyone understands our future economic prosperity lies in doing business in Asia.

I want an Army of teachers of Asian languages in the schools of western Sydney.

A bi-lingual NSW will equip young people to work anywhere.

Help business at every level.

Allow us to communicate in our biggest export markets.

Join all that together and you get a connected Western Sydney.

Working in business, or creating it.

Because without that we stagnate.

There is no single formula for success, in anything.

But several things contribute.

I know many of the people here today – and it’s a safe assumption that all of you share their attributes.

You and I believe in effort.

In talent. Insight. Enthusiasm.

And in community, and teamwork.

Being good neighbours.

All the things that position Western Sydney for an exciting future.

So take that and good Government - and success for millions of people who call this region home is assured.

Thank you for your time.