Sydney Metro Northwest shows light at the end of the tunnel

The weekend launch of the $7.3b Sydney Metro Northwest project comes one month after the opening of Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium.

Improving liveability, accessibility and productivity as Western Sydney grows is an important driver for the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue in the context of these, and many other, projects.

Executive Director Adam Leto shared his opinion, an optimistic outlook, as well as an awareness of the inevitable “teething problems” for the region in The Daily Telegraph just as the first driverless Northwest train left the station.

Read More here.

Dialogue backs SBS move to Western Sydney

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has congratulated the Federal Opposition on investigating the opportunities to relocate SBS to Western Sydney, a move that it has described as a “no-brainer”.

Christopher Brown AM, Chairman of the Dialogue, who late last year put the suggestion to Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during the Labor Leader’s visit to Revesby, said the proposal was long-overdue and had the potential to deliver several positive social, economic and creative outcomes for the region.

“The Dialogue has been campaigning for this move for nearly five years, and we’re certainly pleased that the Federal Opposition is taking a lead on this,” Mr Brown said.

“There is no doubt that SBS, the nation’s multicultural broadcaster, should be based in multicultural Western Sydney, not mono-cultural Artarmon. It’s a no-brainer.”

“This proposal opens up a number of opportunities for the region, and any number of cities would make for a great fit. Places like Bankstown for instance, which is home to a large pool of arts and creative young talent and is centrally located. With the Western Sydney University Bankstown CBD Campus on the way over the next couple of years, I think there’s some potential to create a shared site, with both tertiary, production-training and broadcasting functionality.”

“I’d be encouraging the councils of the West to take up the challenge and put forward ideas about where best to locate the SBS offices and studios, and propose a deal to make it happen” Brown said. 

Mr Brown said it was fitting “that SBS, which is recognised for championing acceptance and diversity, be based in Western Sydney, where it would be positioned to build a stronger connection with its audiences and have greater access to the many authentic, and untold stories of the region”.  

“If this proposal is delivered, it would not only represent a win for Western Sydney, but ultimately for SBS, which would be at the centre of the nation’s biggest cultural melting-pot, and where there are so many interesting, positive stories to be told,” he added.  

“It would help the region to tell its own stories and would provide a range of smart job opportunities for the region.”

Australian screen icon, acclaimed producer, and Bankstown ‘old boy’ Bryan Brown AM, also welcomed the Federal Opposition’s plan.

“Bringing Australia’s multicultural channel to the multi-cultural West. Good move!”, Mr (Bryan) Brown said.

Residents from Western Sydney  come from more than 170 countries and speak over 100 languages. Up to 35% of  locals are born overseas, while  60% of new immigrants settle in the region. Western Sydney is also  home to one of the biggest Indigenous populations in the nation, with more Indigenous residents than both South Australia or Victoria.

More information: Sarah Campbell, Communications Manager, sarah@westernsydney.org.au

New Report: A Five Point Plan to Tackle Obesity

The introduction of a national sugar tax and targeted state-wide restrictions on junk food advertising, are just some of the measures being recommended by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue in its new Discussion Paper, Western Sydney’s Heavy Issue: A Five Point Plan to Tackle Obesity.

Dialogue Executive Director, Adam Leto, said the paper, deliberately timed for release during the lead-up to the Federal Election, was primarily aimed at highlighting the significant ‘obesity deficit’ that exists in Greater Western Sydney and the need for urgent political intervention, before the obesity epidemic gets worse.

“More than two thirds of Western Sydney is either overweight or obese, which is above the national average, and the flow-on health, social and economic costs are rising markedly,” Mr Leto said.

“The introduction of a sugar tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, in isolation, is not the sole answer when it comes to solving what we understand is a deep, and complex issue,” he said.

“But as part of an integrated suite of measures, it can have an impact, as we have seen in other places around the world. What we can’t afford to do is sit back and say it’s just too hard – and leading up to the Federal Election, there is an opportunity for our political representatives to show some leadership and make this is one of their top policy priorities.”

Mr Leto said that in addition to some of the more complex recommendations listed in the report, such as the national sugar tax, there were some “quick wins” that could make a difference, such as imposing junk food advertising restrictions on state-owned public transport assets, similar to what has been introduced in other states, including most recently, Queensland.

“This is an issue that is affecting all Australians, but when you look at the figures in Western Sydney, you can’t help but be concerned,” he said.

“People who live in Western Sydney are more likely to struggle with obesity than elsewhere in Sydney – they have limited access to fresh and healthier food options, their cities are less walkable than most other parts of Sydney and more than 50 percent of the population has, or is at risk of acquiring Type 2 Diabetes,” Mr Leto said.

“We recognise the introduction of a sugar tax  is going to be a challenge, but there are also a number of relatively simpler measures, from the way we design our cities, through to a universal, compulsory health-star rating, that can also deliver improved health outcomes.”

Last month, the Dialogue ran a forum focusing on understanding and addressing the cost of poor health and social disadvantage in the region, attended by a range of health experts, including Professor Glen Maberly, Director Western Sydney Diabetes, Tom Nance, Manger Policy and Programs, Western Sydney Community Forum, and Wendy Watson, Nutrition Program Manager of the Cancer Council NSW, who all  agreed that the health of people living in Western Sydney demanded higher prioritisation by the Government.

Mr Leto added that both Western Sydney Local Health District, South Western Sydney Local Health District and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District had taken a pro-active approach when it came to both raising awareness, and developing programs aimed at improving the obesity and diabetes epidemic in the region.

“Health professionals, business and families all need support from our political decision makers,” Mr Leto said.

“We need to develop a partnership approach to tackle this issue head-on - one that has community, industry and political buy-in - if we’re serious about getting results.”

Key parts of the report’s 5 Point Plan to tackle obesity are:

  • Junk food advertising restrictions across the Sydney Trains network and for public transport on school routes

  • A sugar tax on sweetened drinks

  • Improving urban planning for health

  • Reforming health star rating system

  • Incentives for physical activities

THE KEY STATISTICS:

  • Sydneysiders living in the Western Sydney or Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Areas (PHA) are on average 12.5 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than those living in the Central and Eastern Sydney or Northern Sydney areas

  • GWS is home to the Sydney Local School Areas with the five highest rates of obesity among Sydney schoolchildren

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, who are disproportionately represented in parts of Greater Western Sydney, are 1.6 times more likely to be obese.

Click here for access to the full report: Western Sydney’s Heavy Issue: A Five Point Plan to Tackle Obesity.

For media information

Sarah Campbell, Communications Manager, sarah@westernsydney.org.au

Dialogue Welcomes Fuel-Pipeline Funding Promise

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has welcomed the Federal Opposition’s commitment to fund a fuel-pipeline to Western Sydney Airport (WSA) should it be elected later this month, in a move that will cut the number of truck movements in the region.

The Dialogue has been campaigning for the introduction of fuel-pipeline for almost 12 months and said today’s announcement by Federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese would not only relieve congestion, and help save lives, but also ensure future fuel demands are met.

“This is an opportunity to get ahead of the game, and instead of playing catch-up, let’s build the underground fuel network now, as we know we’re most definitely going to need it in 20 years’ time,” Dialogue Executive Director, Adam Leto, said.

“Taking 65 highly-combustible Avgas trucks off the roads daily is a no-brainer and this pipeline will also ensure WSA remains globally-competitive and is supported by an efficient, open, competitive fuel supply,” he said.

“In order to improve safety, and to help free up the roads for Western Sydney motorists, there should be absolutely no delay installing this pipeline.

“The new fuel pipeline will ensure WSA can maximise its operations without unnecessarily burdening residents who live in the surrounding Aerotropolis by cutting out excessive truck movements between Clyde or Port Botany fuel terminals to WSA,” he said.

However, the Dialogue believes that there needs to be more than just a dedicated aviation fuel pipeline to WSA, preferring the development of a regional fuel depot to service the massive growth area of west and south west Sydney.

“We cannot continue to allow thousands of fuel tankers to drive from Kurnell each day to the hundreds of petrol stations across suburban Sydney. We must have a proper pipeline network that brings most of the fuel to the region underground, greatly reducing the environmental impact of tanker distribution and the threat this poses to the safety of local communities,” Mr Leto said.

Last year, the Federal Government commissioned Deloitte to examine the issues and options around fuel supply to WSA but this is the first time a major party has committed to fund the project.

According to the report, without a pipeline, it is estimated that up to 65 trucks per day will be required to service WSA, running from either the Clyde or Port Botany fuel terminals by road.

“We are building a city the size of Adelaide in Western Sydney over the next 30 years and in addition to supplying the Airport a pipeline will also enable the establishment of fuel storage and distribution infrastructure, servicing our increasing population, businesses and industrial needs,” Mr Leto said.

For media information

Sarah Campbell — Communications Manager
Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue sarah@westernsydney.org.au

Call for Blacktown to be included in Western Parkland City

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has called on the NSW Government to expand the boundaries of the Western Parkland City to include the Blacktown Local Government Area in a move that would better align it with neighbouring councils in the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and also help ensure it was involved in the Western Sydney City Deal.

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM said the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) ‘three-city metropolis’ was largely established as a way of managing Sydney’s long-term growth and to help co-ordinate transport and land-use planning with the aim of delivering improved economic, social and environmental outcomes.

He added that the GSC had set a new benchmark when it came to regional collaboration and governance, particularly within the Western Parkland City, which includes the eight council areas of Penrith, Liverpool, Fairfield, Camden, Campbelltown, Wollondilly, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury.

“All of these areas are connected to each other, not just by their geography, but the role they will undoubtedly play in helping shape the future of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis,” Mr Brown said. “All of these areas are also linked via the Western Sydney City Deal, which unites local, state and federal governments as a way to unlock opportunities in the Parkland City, and with Blacktown right on its fringe, it makes sense that they have a seat at the table.

“The Australian Catholic University recently announced plans for a new Blacktown campus, which received a further boost with the Federal Opposition committing $7m towards its development. Add that fast-track funding to a Council that has committed itself to a much-needed revamp of its city centre and there are some exciting times ahead for the city.

“The GSC, and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres, deserve plenty of credit for their respective roles in driving increased co-ordination and collaboration across the Parkland City and Aerotropolis, and as the vision for these areas has grown and become clearer, so too is the obvious need for Blacktown to be included,” he said.

Mr Brown added that securing Blacktown’s involvement in the Western Sydney City Deal should ensure the city is eligible for State and Federal funding, through the existing Liveability Fund, and deliver rapid bus services to the Western Sydney Airport, as has been promised to other centres such as Penrith, Liverpool and Campbelltown.

“Blacktown’s case for inclusion in the City Deal and Parkland City grouping should hasten the extension of the Airport rail-link north from St Mary’s toward Marsden Park and beyond.  Blacktown is also featured within the Western Sydney Employment Area and is home to one of the biggest populations in Sydney, so bringing it closer to the Aerotropolis and other neighbouring councils is sure to generate a range of opportunities,” Mr Brown said.

“Blacktown’s inclusion in the Western Sydney City Deal, and in the Aerotropolis Authority region, will require of the Council a more productive embrace of the economic benefits that could flow to local residents from the new airport.

“Blacktown deserves a seat at Western Sydney’s head table as its exclusion is wrong.  However, the region can also expect the city to play a more effective and collaborative role in driving the Aerotropolis forward.” Mr Brown concluded.

For media information:

Sarah Campbell

Communications Manager

sarah@westernsydney.org.au

Dialogue welcomes $7 million fast-tracked funding

Western Sydney’s reputation as an educational hub for research and innovation just got a $7m boost with the Federal Opposition committing funds towards the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) new Blacktown CBD campus.

Executive Director of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, Adam Leto, said the funding commitment was welcome news for every person who lives, works or studies in Western Sydney.

“ACU’s commitment, backed by the Federal Opposition, is the first step in the broader urban renewal of Blacktown CBD,  leveraging its existing transport, health, entertainment and retail assets. The new ACU campus will have a key role to play in not only equipping the next generation’s leaders with the skills and knowledge to succeed, but also helping drive the development of a more vibrant and innovative central Blacktown,” Mr Leto said.

The university will invest $220 million in the fit-out of an interim building and two permanent, high-rise buildings in Warrick Lane. The new campus will occupy part of Blacktown Council’s Main St building, while two high-rises along Warrick Lane are built. The interim campus is the first phase in ACU’s program that will see four faculties set up.

The latest announcement, as part of the Federal Opposition’s $300m University Future Fund, comes in the lead up to the Federal election on May 18.

Enrolments in Blacktown courses will start in 2020 across education and arts; health sciences; law and business; and theology and philosophy.

ACU is Australia’s largest provider of graduate teachers and nurses and is ranked in the top 3% of universities worldwide. An information centre will be established at the Main St building in 2019.