The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue takes a look back on what’s been a busy 12 months for the region in its annual re-cap of 2018 – a year highlighted by the Western Sydney Aerotropolis sparking a wave of activity and investment, a number of major tourism, education, health, arts and sports projects announced, and the population vs infrastructure debate emerging as a major policy focus.
Education & Skills
Education was a major theme in 2018, with Western Sydney benefiting from a tertiary sector keen to leverage the region’s young, growing, and aspirational population, and the NSW Government recognising the need for more, and better equipped schools to support this growth.
Early in the year, Western Sydney University (WSU) announced the site for its new Bankstown CBD Campus, adjacent to Paul Keating Park and bookended by Canterbury-Bankstown Council and the Bryan Brown Theatre, with the site expected to spark the revitalisation of the city centre.
The Bankstown campus follows on the opening of its newest campus, ‘Ngara Ngura’ at Liverpool, accommodating up to 2500 students with a focus on nursing, social work, anthropology, criminology and policing. WSU also announced another new 15-storey campus in the Parramatta CBD, in partnership with the University of NSW, which will house undergraduate engineering, architecture and business programs.
Both UNSW Sydney and WSU, along with the University of Wollongong and University of Newcastle, were announced as part of a new ‘Multiversity’ campus at the aerotropolis, which will specialise in STEM.
Over at Westmead, Sydney University’s plans for a new integrated campus at the Old Cumberland Hospital site, also created plenty of excitement when it was announced by the NSW Premier, with the $500m project helping build skills and knowledge in the areas of advanced manufacturing, data and artificial intelligence.
Education was a major focus at the Dialogue’s ‘Out There’ Summit, sponsored by Schools Infrastructure NSW, and featuring Minister Rob Stokes as the keynote speaker and Dialogue Patron, Professor Peter Shergold, delivering the annual Lachlan Macquarie Lecture.
In the NSW Budget, the State Government announced that it will spend $6b to deliver new schools and upgrade existing ones over the next four years, with the bulk of these works taking place in Western Sydney.
And after years of behind-the-scenes build-up,work finally commenced on Sydney Science Park, the 280ha site, and northern gateway to the Western Sydney Airport. Upon completion, the $5b project is expected to deliver more than 12,000 smart jobs, educate 10,000 students and provide over 3,000 homes. It will house NSW’s first STEM school, a K-12 landmark projects developed in partnership with Catholic Education.
The Dialogue campaigned for reform to TAFE funding through 2018, with calls for vocational students to receive access to the same Federal scheme that finances university students. TAFE also welcomed a new Managing Director this year, Caralee McLiesh.
The signing of the Western Sydney City Deal, an historic agreement between locals councils and state and federal government, was a major win, and off the back of this announcement, delivered $7b towards a North-South rail line that links the region’s growth areas via the Western Sydney Airport.
Interest in and around the Aerotropolis picked up pace, with a number of MOUs signed with international corporate heavyweights such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), along with Sydney Markets, who have all signalled their intent to establish a presence within the precinct.
Master-planning for the Aerotropolis, ongoing investment attraction and implementation of the City Deal, will be driven by the newly established Western City and Aerotropolis Authority, headed by former NSW Health Infrastructure CEO, Sam Sangster, with Greater Sydney Commission’s Geoff Roberts as Interim Chair.
Western Sydney’s other major transport project, the Metro West, linking Westmead to the CBD, also received $3b in State funding, with the business case for what NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance refers to as the “state’s most important transport project”, expected to be finalised in early 2019. Federal Labor has offered another $3b for the “steal spine” project and the Dialogue has called on the Morrison Government to match or exceed this.
WestConnex continues its development and was purchased by Transurban this year, and the new M4 East Tunnel will open next year. There is continued political controversy over the South West Metro line to Bankstown with Labor and Liberals differing in their views. The Dialogue supports the line strongly but wants the money restored to the urban amenity package.
Western Sydney’s health precincts continued to build momentum, particularly in Liverpool, which received $720m funding from the State Government to develop a new state-of-the-art health research and education precinct at Liverpool Hospital.
The investment builds on the area’s already impressive health and research assets and has the potential to double the number of local jobs by 2036.
The redevelopment of Westmead Hospital, which celebrated its 40th birthday, continued to progress, while a new Dialysis Centre, aimed at reducing the risk of diabetes, was opened by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at Mt Druitt as part of Stage 2 of the $700m redevelopment of Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals.
Campbelltown Hospital’s $630m Stage 2 redevelopment was also ongoing and formed the centre-piece in Council’s new plans for a world-class health and education precinct, anchored by the university, hospital, TAFE and research facilities. However, the City Deal failed to deliver the expected $20m to extend the Ingham Institute to Campbelltown, with its smart jobs in medical research, and the Dialogue will continue to campaign for it in the Federal and State election campaigns.
Arts, Sport, Tourism
The Powerhouse Museum move from Ultimo to Parramatta was finally confirmed and is expected to open by 2023. Located on the banks of Parramatta River, and opposite Riverside Theatres, the $645m facility will also include a 30m-wide domed planetarium, the largest of its kind in Australia.
The opening of the Inglis Stables and Hotel facility at Warwick Farm has made a huge impact on local tourism, and was the big winner of the Dialogue’s Project of the Year awards at Boomtown in November. The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW is currently finalising its Cabinet submission to fund the redevelopment of its Sydney Showgrounds to provide Western Sydney with its own convention and exhibition centre at Olympic Park.
However, “stadium wars” continue across the region. While the old Parramatta Stadium will open at the Bankwest Stadium in April, neither side of politics has fully committed to a proper rectangularisation of ANZ Stadium or an expansion of Spotless Stadium at Olympic Park.
Not far away at Rooty Hill, the vision for the Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre, a state-of-the-art, privately funded $100m facility, at West HQ, was released to the public. Dubbed the ‘Opera House of the West’ the 2000-seat theatre will be able to house large-scale musicals, ballet and opera companies, and symphony orchestras, and is expected to attract some of the world’s headline acts when it opens in 2019.
Western Sydney will soon have two teams in the A-league, with the Macarthur South-West bid, led by Campbelltown Council, beating off a competitive field to secure one of two new licences. The Macarthur South-West team will enter the A-League competition in 2020 and play out of Campbelltown Stadium.
The Dialogue continued to raise awareness about key social issues and initiatives in 2018. It partnered with the Western Sydney Community Forum to launch its Building Beyond Bricks campaign aimed at promoting the importance of investment in social services, not just public infrastructure.
It also hosted a Future Forum, which included speakers from local and state government, and private enterprise, who discussed how we can best plan and fund community infrastructure.
Later in the year, the Dialogue was announced as a formal partner of the Kimberwalli Centre, based at the old Whalan High School site (formerly known as the Aboriginal Centre for Excellence) which is expected to facilitate a range of opportunities for Indigenous youth when it opens its doors next year.
The Dialogue continued its support of Savannah Pride, operating from the PCYC centre at Blacktown and providing young people with an outlet for young South Sudanese teenagers that is focussed as much on education, as it is basketball.
As part of its thought-leadership series, the Dialogue launched its discussion paper, Putting Domestic and Family Violence on the Agenda, outlining a number of recommendations aimed at helping reduce the incidence of domestic violence. (Sydney Morning Herald article here.)
The Dialogue has received positive support from a number of key stakeholder groups keen to ensure the issue remains a priority for our community, business and political leaders heading into 2019 — and it will be the focus of our first Future Forum in early 2019.
In the face of growing conversation about how we prepare for the region’s growing population, the Dialogue (WSLD), in partnership with the Sydney Business Chamber, launched a new report paper aimed at stimulating discussion about how the region’s growth is governed.
The discussion paper – Governance Reform for Growth: Ideas on how we can best plan, finance, build and govern the growth centres of Greater Western Sydney – was launched at the Western Sydney University’s vertical campus in the Parramatta CBD, in front of leaders in government, the private sector and community, and put forward a number of options for consideration, particularly on issues around local government reform.
Off the back of this report, the Dialogue advocated for a number of its recommendations, including the appointment of a Co-ordinator General for major growth precincts such as the Aerotropolis, and Greater Parramatta Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) Corridor - similar to the governance model in the Western City.
The Dialogue’s annual Out There Summit returned for a third year and explored the role education and health play in the development of our growth centres, and also tackled issues such as postcode discrimination, regional reputation and how to prepare for Western Sydney's population explosion, featuring a debate between Sydney Business Chamber’s David Borger and entrepreneur Dick Smith.
The annual Pemulwuy Prize was awarded to Mayor Chagai for his role in helping reshape the lives of marginalised and disadvantaged youth in Blacktown, through his Savannah Pride basketball program. In a moving, and humble acceptance speech, Mayor dedicated the award to the countless people who helped him on his long journey from the war in South Sudan to Australia.
The Dialogue’s other major event, its Property and Infrastructure Summit BOOMTOWN!, once again brought "the west to town" and with it, regional influencers across community, business and government to talk all things development, property, finance and infrastructure.
This year we explored the opportunities that catalytic projects like Sydney Metro West and the world's newest Airport at Badgerys Creek could have on urban renewal, liveability and economic development as well as the critical role innovative partnerships play in helping to drive positive social, economic and urban outcomes.
For the first time, The Dialogue Patrons' Prize for Excellence in Public Policy as well as the Project of the Year Awards were presented at the inaugural pre-conference dinner. The impressive Inglis Development at Warwick Farm was declared this year’s winner, while the Hon. Mike Baird and the Lindy Deitz, Chief Executive of the City of Campbelltown), Dr Steven Kennedy, (Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development & Cities), and Geoff Roberts (Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission) also took home gongs for excellence in public policy.
The evening also showcased Western Sydney's talent with performances from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Bankstown Poetry Slam, and included an address by former NSW Premier, the Hon. Mike Baird, who reflected on his achievements in office as Premier and Treasurer and the substantial legacy of his leadership in the state's impressive infrastructure pipeline.
Continuing its work at a local level, the Dialogue also staged a number of more intimate events, forums and workshops to draw attention to some of the work being undertaken throughout the region.
This included the launch of Reimagine Campbelltown, the Council’s new city vision announced at NSW Parliament House in front of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and a number of leading stakeholders.
While last month, the Dialogue hosted Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Revesby Workers Club, in a working lunch partnered by Canterbury Bankstown Council.