Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today announced a new Western Sydney Expert Panel that will review and report exclusively on the region’s infrastructure projects.
Speaking at the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue lunch attended by 700 senior government, business, industry, academic and community leaders, the Prime Minister said the new panel would “take the politics out of planning”.
“To guide future decision making and to take the politics out of planning we will establish a Western Sydney Expert Panel to review and report on Western Sydney’s infrastructure needs,” Mr Albanese said in his first major address in Western Sydney.
“We need to better plan our infrastructure. We need to take flood and other extreme weather events into account when planning infrastructure investments.
“That’s why at the last election we committed to investing in planning and preparatory works for the Castlereagh Connection, a project I know the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has championed for a long time.”
The Prime Minister also announced the Government was a step closer to relocating SBS to Western Sydney. The announcement was welcomed by Dialogue Chairman, Christopher Brown AM, who has long campaigned for the move.
“It’s time to move SBS from monocultural Artarmon to multicultural Western Sydney to drive creative industry jobs,” Mr Brown said. “This is a long overdue move that will help redress the cultural imbalance that exists between the east and west, and I congratulate the Government on progressing this significant investment in Western Sydney’s communities.”
Joined at today’s event by Federal Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland MP, and Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare MP, the Prime Minister announced that the government had commissioned the long-awaited feasibility study to move the government-funded broadcaster.
“It certainly makes sense for such a fast-growing, multicultural community to be the home of the broadcaster that celebrates and serves Australia’s diversity,” Mr Albanese said.
“It would be an important cultural investment in Western Sydney and a creator of construction jobs. The diversity of Western Sydney is a local treasure – and it is also a national asset. It enriches our cultural life – and it drives our economic growth.”
Mr Brown said it was an honour to host the Prime Minister in Western Sydney today and hear his vision for the region’s future. “Mr Albanese has a long and proud association with the West, and he knows the issues this region faces,” Mr Brown said.
“In the lead up to the next Federal Budget, we wanted to highlight key projects that would deliver affordable housing, help protect our region against flood disasters and recognise the country’s largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.”
In his address to the event, Mr Brown called on the Federal Government to:
• Co-convene a Flood Summit with the NSW Premier to explore the new dam wall, water recycling, better planning of the roads and bridges network to manage evacuation for local communities
• Leverage the $10 billion Housing Australia fund by enabling private investors to prioritise community housing providers and demand higher mandates for social and key worker homes be built above federally-funded infrastructure projects
• Build the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s proposed $20 million Australia India Institute in Parramatta
• Commit federal funding to a Fast Rail line between Newcastle and Canberra, with an interchange in Western Sydney
• Partner with the NSW Government and the private sector to develop the world’s best Indigenous art gallery and cultural centre in Blacktown in celebration of the largest First Nations community in Australia.
The Prime Minister said he was “delighted to be back with the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, to join in celebrating a great part of our country and the people who contribute to its strength and success”.
Mr Albanese highlighted the work being carried out to complete the “transformational” Western Sydney Airport, which he described as a personal long-standing passion.
“Of course, there’s no point building a new airport without making it easy for people to get there,” Mr Albanese said.
“That’s why I’ve always been a big supporter of the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport rail line, which we’re delivering as part of the Western Sydney City Deal. I’m proud our Federal Government is contributing $5.25 billion to the Metro.
“This will be a game-changer for the new Western Parkland City and the Aerotropolis surrounding the airport – connecting residents with jobs, education and training, services, goods and markets.”
Mr Albanese described Western Sydney as young, talented and aspirational. “It’s growing at an extraordinary rate – more people live here in the Greater Western Sydney area than in Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin combined.
“We can and should celebrate this growth – but we also need to respond to it, to plan for it, to seize the economic opportunities it represents.”
“Good infrastructure is absolutely central to this. We invest in infrastructure because we know it powers productivity, it supports growing communities, it creates jobs, it rewards aspiration. It boosts access to services and it improves quality of life.”
Outgoing Western Sydney University (WSU) Chairman, Chancellor, Peter Shergold AC, was honoured at the event for his highly respected career in academia and Australian public life spanning more than 30 years, including serving as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2003–2008.
Professor Shergold, who is also a Dialogue Patron, was appointed as WSU Chancellor in 2011, and will step down from the role later this year. He was presented with the Pemulwuy Prize, which was celebrated by the Prime Minister.
“I know Western Sydney is proud to be home to the largest urban population of Aboriginal people, the latest generation of those who have cared for these lands and waters for 60,000 years, including Pemulwuy, who led a resistance against British settlers during the Frontier Wars, including a significant confrontation in Parramatta,” Mr Albanese said.
“It’s fitting you remember him today with the Pemulwuy Prize.” At the event, the Prime Minister was presented with a letter pledging support from the Dialogue’s 70 influential partners for the proposed referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“By throwing its full support behind the upcoming referendum, the Dialogue has committed to working with the Government to support the ‘yes’ vote and help bring about this historic change for Australia and its First Nations peoples,” Mr Brown said.
For media information
Belinda Wallis – Media & Communications Manager Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue
0466 386 887