Dialogue backs NSW Budget: health and transport projects tackle congestion and obesity

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has congratulated the Berejiklian Government for maintaining a sound surplus in the face of growing economic headwinds, while remaining committed to its strategic program of infrastructure and service spending in vital areas of Greater Western Sydney. 

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM said, “While the hefty write down of GST and Stamp Duty highlights an underlying weakening of revenue, an infrastructure pipeline of $93b – and heading fast for $100b – reflects what’s now a well-established, confidently managed growth agenda for the state. Best of all, plenty of it is targeted towards Western Sydney.”

The Dialogue yesterday wrote to The Premier calling for the sale of the remaining half of WestConnex to help fund Sydney Metro West, which is crucial to the development of the Central River City and the region. In the letter the Dialogue also advocated for proceeds of further asset recycling to fund the second stage of Parramatta Light Rail and urban renewal in the Bankstown CBD as part of the South West Metro project.

“The people of Western Sydney can be confident that the government that NSW voters recently re-elected is showing good faith with this Budget. In an increasingly gloomy national and global economic climate, the government’s strongly-mandated program of transport, health and education infrastructure upgrades, along with its commitment to some key major projects, represents the right approach to ensuring Western Sydney continues to thrive,” he said.

Mr Brown cited the new Western Sydney Construction Hub, including a ‘mega TAFE’, as a clear sign that the government recognised the critical role of a long-term trade skills development plan. “If we’re going to build smart city futures in the West, first and foremost we’ll need smart city builders.”

The Dialogue particularly welcomed the Budget’s formal booking of the $2b already announced for the North South rail link to the Western Sydney Airport and Aerotropolis, and the $6.4b promised for the West Metro project. Mr Brown added that a lack of Federal Government funding for Metro West will give rise to the need for further asset recycling to meet the expected $20b price-tag.

“The small project focus of the Commonwealth, in the midst of a slowing economy and growing pressures on state revenue, leaves all the heavy lifting to state governments. The NSW Government is up to the task, but they deserve a better deal from the Feds,” he said.

Mr Brown also applauded extra funding for the NSW Motor Sport Strategy, following the Dialogue’s successful advocacy for the installation of permanent lighting at Sydney Motorsport Park. He said, “The government’s willingness to keep supporting initiatives like this is warmly acknowledged.”    

Mr Brown said the Dialogue is pleased to note the Budget’s many smaller-scale initiatives collectively targeting the health of those in GWS, particularly preventative measures intended to activate healthier diets and more active lifestyles.

“The recommendations in the Dialogue’s recent paper on the region’s obesity and diabetes epidemics, Western Sydney’s Heavy Issue, all focus on activating more daily physical activity and better daily nutrition. It’s great to see this government starting to pull different policy levers, at all levels and scales but with the same strategic aim,” he said.

Noting that reducing childhood obesity is a Premier’s Priority, Mr Brown said that doubling the ‘terrifically successful’ Active Kids vouchers scheme and, in the same Budget, expanding the School Breakfast 4 Health program showed the government’s evolving capacity for ‘joined-up policy thinking’ on complex social issues.

“Add in $150 million for opening up green public spaces and extra national park funding, which will give kids more outside space everywhere from Penrith’s Regatta Park to the new Billabong Parklands in Campbelltown, and it’s really starting to look like the ‘whole-of-community’ approach the experts tell us is the best way to tackle obesity,” he said.

Mr Brown called for further action to tackle the obesity epidemic including a ban on junk food ads on Sydney public transport, and for the NSW Government to advance the debate on a tax on sugary drinks.

“These are not new or radical ideas and other jurisdictions have proven they can work. The issue is getting to big to ignore.”

For media information

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