Boom time for Western Sydney?

Nepean Hospital, Penrith.


NSW Premier Mike Baird launched a five-year plan this morning (Tuesday) to create 200,000 new jobs in Western Sydney, build up the area’s health and education sectors and upgrade public transport and all by 2020.

One of the key drivers of the Deloitte-authored plan, Shaping Future Cities: Designing Western Sydney, is shaped by the desire to better match Sydney’s jobs with where its workers live. The plan has had a great deal of community input and is backed by 400 business, government and community leaders.

This action plan tries to redress the imbalance created by a prediction that more than half (52 per cent) of Sydney’s population is expected to be living in Western Sydney by 2021 but only 38 per cent of jobs will be based there.

Deloitte partner and report author, Theo Psychogios, said Western Sydney was estimated to account for 15 per cent of Australia’s population growth in the next 25 years and the area was “one of the world’s standout urban success stories.”

“Urban growth of this magnitude is now a rarity in the cities of advanced nations,” he said. “There is collective recognition that we have to have a plan to make the most of the opportunities this growth brings, to create and keep jobs in Western Sydney.

“This is a blueprint for change, a vision for maximising opportunity and improving people’s livelihoods.”

The jobs bonanza will be welcome news for the area’s councils after the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) announced that thousands of jobs would move from its offices in Parramatta, Lidcombe and Sydney Olympic Park to the Australia Technology Park near Redfern in about four years’ time.

Parramatta City Council was so incensed by the bank’s withdrawal that it voted last month to explore the possibility of pulling all of its money out of the CBA and encouraging other western Sydney councils to follow suit.

Jobs and transport

The jobs growth strategy includes targeting expansion in industries such as health, education and manufacturing, led by concentrating on health and education precincts in Blacktown, Campbelltown, Penrith, Liverpool and Westmead, where 20,000 more jobs are expected to be created by 2030.

Tourism and agribusiness also rate a mention, including developing a 30-year freight and logistics strategy to protect regional and international supply chains as urban development rachets up.

A central plank of the plan’s success will be linking local workers to these news jobs with better public transport and new infrastructure. The plan presses for the Premier – who is also Minister for Western Sydney – to forge ahead with building the Western Sydney Orbital rail line and link Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek with the north and south west and Sydney’s CBD.

Around 300,000 people in Western Sydney currently commute east on congested transport links into the city. Deloitte Access Economics analysis touts the apocryphal figure that if this commuting trend continues Western Sydney will need six new train lines, 19 new freeways and 1700 more buses to handle the daily commute east in the future.

Key measures in the plan include:

• Bringing 200,000 new jobs in Western Sydney by 2020
• Skilling up the local population using incentives, especially around growth industries
• Encouraging start-ups and entrepreneurship
• Investing in already booming catalyst industries such as health and education and helping manufacturers switch to advanced manufacturing techniques
• Lifting workforce participation and supporting disadvantaged groups through training and work transition programs
• Building the Western Sydney Orbital rail line and re-orientating Sydney’s transport system around Parramatta instead of the east
• A new, 15-minute express train service between Parramatta and the Sydney CBD
• Establishing a new Western Sydney Development Authority to drive investment
• Creating a Western Sydney Innovation Corridor to connect the region’s existing innovation hubs
• Developing a 40-year infrastructure vision for Western Sydney to sidestep the politicisation of infrastructure
• Creating Australia’s first STEM school (science, technology, engineering and maths).

The blueprint also holds up 25 public champions, called Designing Western Sydney Champions, who will work with business and government to implement the report’s 25 strategies, which contain 133 recommendations in total.

Deloitte Western Sydney Managing Partner, Danny Rezek, one of the report’s authors, said it was a practical plan to create jobs.

“We’ve connected with business leaders across Western Sydney from many industries, we’ve spoken with universities and state and local governments from Liverpool, Blacktown, Penrith, Parramatta and Campbelltown,” Mr Rezek said.

“We’ve asked people what is important to them, we’ve crunched the numbers and we’ve analysed and built on the best existing plans for growth. This is a blueprint for Western Sydney’s people, by the people, and it’s fantastic to have our Premier launching and endorsing it today.”

Mr Rezek said that with the right policy settings, incentives and investment, Western Sydney could become an “economic powerhouse” to drive Greater Sydney.

“This blueprint aims to set the foundations that will reduce the risk of investing in key industries and places across Western Sydney. This will be achieved through improved clarity, certainty and promotion of the region’s strengths.”

He said that both state and federal governments had already recognised the potential of Western Sydney as the engine room of the state’s economy and committed billions to infrastructure.

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