My Top Ten Priorities for Western Sydney
1. Growing local jobs
Growing local jobs is the only true congestion-buster for Sydney.
We can add all the lanes we like to the M4, M5 and M2, but unless we grow half a million jobs in Western Sydney over the next 25 years, congestion will grind Sydney to a halt.
Labor moved thousands of jobs to Parramatta with Sydney Water, Attorney-General’s and Police, but the public sector can’t create anywhere near all the jobs that are needed.
The focus has to be on supporting the private sector to grow. Let’s get behind the Western Sydney University’s vision of an innovation corridor, west of the M7, home to high-quality jobs in science, food processing and other growing industries.
2. Making the Western Sydney Airport a success
The new airport can be the greatest jobs driver for Western Sydney.
Let’s ensure its success. The new airport shouldn’t be a mere spillover for the flights that Kingsford Smith doesn’t want.
Western Sydney Airport should be exempt from the restrictive international bilateral air service agreements that inhibit the growth of airports. Let’s give it the right to grow and exempt it from the bilaterals.
And it should have a rail connection. Kingsford Smith opened in 1920 and got a rail line eighty years later. Let’s not make the same mistake.
3. A relentless focus on South West Sydney
This is a region of 800,000 people that will become a region of 1.3 million people in less than 20 years.
The growth of Southwestern Sydney needs to have the undivided attention of governments and decision makers.
Let’s start by considering extending metro rail to Liverpool. Why do people in Liverpool have a slower train trip to the Sydney CBD now than they did a hundred years ago?
4. Revitalising the Olympic Peninsula
Since the early 1990s this area has been designated as a major urban revitalisation area. It is ripe for private investment in residential, commercial and retail development - but we need to get its transport right.
We have to fix Sydney’s worst roundabout and improve the train services.
We should also invest in the Olympic Stadium before any new stadium at Moore Park.
But with so much to be done, why has the Department of Planning yet to put the Sydney Olympic Park Authority’s masterplan on exhibition. Why the delay?
5. Make sure the Greater Sydney Commission gets the job done
The Greater Sydney Commission has to have the authority to get the job done.
We can’t have the transport, roads, planning and education departments acting in isolation.
How is it that the road builders came up with a plan for the Westconnex that missed an off-ramp to Hill Road that would serve one of the fastest growing precincts in Sydney?
It’s because siloed government departments work in isolation.
Let’s give the Greater Sydney Commission the authority it needs to secure Western Sydney’s future.
6. Better planning for schools
Across NSW we have to create 300,000 school places over the next 15 years.
So it distresses me to see the government selling off land adjacent to a public school in Lidcombe that’s already bursting at the seams.
Kids need playgrounds.
We need to make sure that education authorities get first access to the land they need when new land releases are made. They shouldn’t have to compete with KFC for sites.
With the Western Sydney University, Western Sydney has the tertiary institution it deserves. Let’s ensure that it gets the schools it deserves.
7. Let’s invest in language education
Western Sydney is young and it’s multi-cultural.
But even with this natural advantage, NSW is lagging behind when it comes to teaching our kids a second language. Ten times as many kids in Queensland are studying Japanese than in New South Wales. Despite the size of our Chinese population, fewer kids in New South Wales primary schools are studying Mandarin and Cantonese than in Victoria.
Western Sydney has successful and thriving Asian communities - so let’s invest in language education. Let’s have a major focus on teaching Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Indonesian and Hindi languages.
8. Town centre renewal
Parramatta has revitalised its city centre with street life, nightlife and new apartments bringing people back to the CBD and the arts.
It can be a model for Liverpool, Campbelltown and Penrith. They can all succeed and the Parramatta model, with its successful Eat Street and Riverside, is a renewal model they can adapt and expand on.
9. Arts and culture
The underinvestment in arts and culture for Western Sydney has gone on for far too long.
It needs to be remedied and a new museum should just be the start.
I like the idea of a new multipurpose centre, a facility to be used by many arts institutions and companies to put on performances and exhibitions. What about a permanent outdoor music bowl? Why is the premiere outdoor music venue in Sydney in the Domain? We need to secure more arts and cultural opportunities for Western Sydney.
10. Re-thinking social housing
I’m excited about the opportunities and economic potential for Western Sydney.
But there are pockets of disadvantage and we need to find new solutions to the multi-generational problems that exists in some public housing estates.
We should transfer title of public housing to community housing associations. Let’s see them innovate, rebuild and increase the quantity and quality of the housing stock.
This is an area where we should do things differently.
A better future is possible and we all should be committed to that.