New paper sets a Central City vision

A new ambitious plan to reform NSW decision making, and inspire new channels of investment, was released today.

Stuck in the Middle  – A discussion paper examining how to unlock the potential of Sydney’s Central City, has put forward a number of recommendations, including the negotiation of a new City Deal (the second for Western Sydney) and the appointment of a Central City Coordinator General, as a way to strengthen regional coordination, attract public and private sector investment, and deliver improved social, environmental and economic outcomes. 

Produced by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue and launched by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes MP today, at NSW Parliament House in front of 100 key stakeholders across government, business, property, transport, tourism and environment sectors, the paper aims to focus attention on one of the nation’s most significant growth corridors.  

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM said the Central City, which runs from the Hills in the north, through Parramatta, Westmead and Sydney Olympic Park, down to Hurstville via Canterbury Bankstown, hosts nearly one-third of Sydneysiders and over the next 20 years will accommodate more than half of the city’s projected population growth.

“The clock is ticking,” Mr Brown said.

“This is Sydney’s beating heart, a place that is home to some of the nation’s most significant economic hubs – places like Parramatta, Westmead, Sydney Olympic Park, Norwest, Macquarie Park and Bankstown Airport, and if we expect these job centres to continue to do the heavy lifting then they’re going to need support.

“If we want our heart to continue to pump, and reach its potential, we need to unblock its arteries. This includes strategies aimed at revitalising the region’s rivers and renewing town centres along Parramatta Road, improving the way our council areas collaborate and investing in stronger north-south connectivity,” he said.

“The Central City services the whole of Sydney, it’s the largest domestic market for goods and services, home to world class entertainment and recreation facilities and is one of the country’s leaders in advanced manufacturing and health and medical research. It demands support.

“We must however adopt a ‘community compact’ to centralise development and residential density in the downtown precincts of the Central City, leaving the traditional suburban streets alone. Well designed, high rise living, above train stations and next to great open spaces should be our promise to communities threatened by too much change, not apartment towers sticking up amid old suburban blocks,” he said.

Mr Brown added that the Western Sydney City Deal, a partnership between Federal, State and Local government was a successful template that should be replicated for the Central City.  

“There is no doubt that the City Deal, with its supporting governance structure, has focused attention on the strategic needs of the Western Parkland City, with the Western Sydney Airport as its anchor,” Mr Brown said.

“We need a similar model applied to the Central City so that the momentum that has been built in Parramatta and Westmead doesn’t stall and to ensure these key employment hubs are connected to the rest of Western Sydney – so that future investment missions by the Premier bring jobs to the centre of Sydney also.

“The Metro West, connecting Westmead to the CBD, has the potential to be just as much of a game-changer for Western Sydney as the new Airport maximising the dividend on this investment requires buy-in from all three-tiers of Government,” he said.

The launch of today’s paper at NSW Parliament featured a response panel, which included: Greater Sydney Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull AO, Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University Prof. Barney Glover, Commonwealth Dept. of Infrastructure and Cities Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy PSM and Mayor of Canterbury Bankstown Council Clr Khal Asfour.

The paper builds on the Greater Sydney Commission’s A Metropolis of Three Cities – the Greater Sydney Region Plan which established a vision for Sydney where most residents live within 30 minutes of their jobs, education and health services, breaking Sydney into the Eastern Harbour City; the Central River City, and the Western Parkland City.


The report’s key recommendations:

New Governance

1.     Appointment of a Co-ordinator General for the Central City and fit for purpose governance locked into a City Deal, that brings three levels of government, industry and the community to the table to accelerate the delivery of an ambitious agenda of reform and investment.

More Connectivity

2.     Funding east-west and north-south transport connections prioritising and fully funding Sydney Metro West, a project of national significance, to service the current and future transport needs of the Central City. Planning for the next wave of investment between key centres including identifying Parramatta as the connection between Sydney and other cities via future fast rail.

3.     Enabling world class digital connectivity to support existing internationally significant employment activities in GPOP and emerging industries such as advanced manufacturing, cyber security and health and medical research.

Boost for employment and skills

4.     Economic development programs that leverage key centres and institutions and plans for the next wave of private sector investments to accelerate job creation. Building on the momentum of arts, sport and cultural investments the recommended relocation of SBS and the ABC to the Central City can stimulate the digital creative sector, creating products and services for both domestic and international distribution.

5.     Digitally enabled advanced manufacturing can leverage well serviced existing industrial lands for future focussed urban products and services, being centrally located to service the whole of Sydney with good access to the freight network and our international trade gateways.

6.     Better-connected Central City can offer Australia a diverse and educated 30-minute labour catchment of national significance.

Environmental renewal of public spaces

7.     A regeneration of natural assets, including rivers, green spaces to support liveability, tourism and health outcomes. Renewal of town centres can offer better public spaces and better experiences for the community and visitors.

Housing and community infrastructure reform

8.     Reform for how we plan for and deliver housing and community infrastructure, taking a one government approach to engaging the community, all while streamlining processes and better utilising land to provide more diverse housing options.

 Read the full report here

 Read the SMH coverage of the paper launch here

 Read an opinion story by Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM

Dialogue renews call for Federal funding on Metro West

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue today renewed its call for the Federal government to commit priority funding to Metro West as part of the next cycle of transport ‘strategic congestion-busters’ in Western Sydney.

The call followed a dire warning in a new report from the Commonwealth’s own development agency that Western Sydney may face crippling congestion by 2031 without additional immediate action.

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM described Infrastructure Australia’s five yearly audit report, released today, as an “alarm bell for Western Sydney commuters”.

“We recognise appropriate funding must be given to Western Sydney Airport now, however sequencing projects, such as securing infrastructure funding for Metro West, is critical to ensure Western Sydney maintains its role as the future economic engine room for Australia,” Mr Brown said.

“The report makes it clear that it’s time to loosen the national purse strings to help the NSW State government which has already shown sustained commitment to improving public transport in Western Sydney with some key projects, like Sydney’s Metro and the Parramatta Light Rail project.”

“Committing government funding now to Metro West will help plans to reduce congestion along precisely the kinds of increasingly clogged urban arterials this report is warning us about,” he said.

“Meanwhile the successful first stage of the Metro, which is getting cars off the road in the rapidly growing north-west, makes long-overdue Federal backing for Metro West, an absolute given.”

Infrastructure Australia’s Urban Transport Crowding and Congestion report described Sydney’s rapid expansion as ‘the new normal’ and says the cost of lost productivity due to gridlock is set to double over the next 12 years to more than $38.8 billion.

According to the report Sydney and Melbourne will be impacted the most by population and infrastructure growth as the cost of overcrowded public transport increases. Mr Brown said the Dialogue acknowledged the commitment already made by the NSW Government to transport projects in the region within the last state budget, despite weakening projected revenue, and Canberra’s support for the Western Sydney Airport and its land transport links.

Dialogue confident of Parramatta Light Rail stage two delivery

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM said today he has full confidence that NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance will deliver stage two of the Parramatta Light Rail in a timely manner to match regional growth.

“The Transport Minister Andrew Constance promised us, publicly and privately, that light rail would eventually link Parramatta and Olympic Park and I know he is a man of his word. He has always delivered on his promises in the past,” Mr Brown said.

“Stage two of the Light Rail is a fundamental plank in the Greater Sydney Commission Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull’s GPOP (Greater Parramatta Olympic Peninsula) vision, allowing for renewal of the public housing stock of Ermington, and will provide relief for the residents of Wentworth Point who have been denied appropriate transport access for too long.”

“In return for the NSW Government’s commitment we need to accept that this project needs funding and the Metro West Rail business case to be finalised. We would expect however a commitment to deliver the Light Rail stage two immediately after the Metro West project has been confirmed,” he said.

Dialogue Launch: Best of the West

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres today officially launched the new Best of the West guidebook. Created by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Best of the West is an inaugural regional snapshot of the best places and events, infrastructure and innovations, in this dynamic area.

Best of the West was produced in order to share the Dialogue’s insight into the range of suburbs, projects, events, centres of education, activities, business successes, natural assets and hidden gems that are helping shape the growth of the most dynamic region in the country.

Executive Director Adam Leto said the Dialogue proudly partnered with Western Sydney University to produce Best of the West.

Best of the West brings together the proud and diverse range of Western Sydney communities and encourages everyone to think broadly about experiences in our part of the world,” Mr Leto said.

“Growth and change never stop in Western Sydney. The Dialogue is proud to share the education, business, health and community goings on from our unique perspective in the driver’s seat of the nation’s fastest growing region,” he said.

The insider’s guide was designed to spark a debate in the community about all that is great in the area which is too often dismissed by its eastern and northern neighbours.

An electronic copy of the 151 page guidebook can be accessed free here or via the Dialogue’s website. A selection of heads of industry from the public and private sector, representing Western Sydney stadiums, airports and more attended the launch by Minister Ayres, who is also the Member for Penrith, which was held at West HQ in Rooty Hill.

The community is encouraged to join the wave of Twitter and Instagram contributors nominating their own suggestions for #bestofthewest at @bestofthewest_ Limited hard copies are available on request.

Out There: WooTube fever hits Western Sydney

NSW ‘Master Teacher’ Eddie Woo has delivered an optimistic outline for Western Sydney education, singling out the important role of students in unlocking the potential of the region.

The WooTube creator, who has given rise to a new global movement of mathematics fanatics, said the rise of Western Sydney as a new cultural centre for NSW was fuelled by the creativity of those who want to learn.

Delivering the Lachlan Macquarie Lecture, as part of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue’s Out There Summit, the online mathematics rock star stressed the importance of embracing and connecting the wide range of cultures and languages found in Western Sydney’s communities.

“Lachlan Macquarie looked at Western Sydney and instead of seeing a dry and desolate space he saw potential,” Mr Woo said.

“There are three directions that we in Western Sydney must ensure we move in order to continue to advance as a community. You need to plant a seed and provide it with an environment in which it can flourish,” Mr Woo said.

Mr Woo told the audience of 300 people, which included Greater Sydney Commission Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull AO, Former NSW Premier Bob Carr as well as a host of local leaders from a broad range of sectors, that Western Sydney region must remain focused on education, creativity and diversity.

In the past the Dialogue’s Lachlan Macquarie Lecture had been delivered by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Woo said of growing up in Western Sydney, “I learned the social and economic danger of cultural enclaves. Multiculturalism means nothing if we do not connect the diverse perspectives and strengths of Western Sydney,” he said.

Earlier this month, Premier Berejiklian announced Eddie's new role as a 'master teacher' with the New South Wales Department of Education, as leader of innovation for maths teaching.

He joined the line-up of famous faces at the Out There Summit, among them were actor Bryan Brown and sporting commentator Phil ‘Gus’ Gould.

Dialogue Executive Director Adam Leto said Mr Woo, a Cherrybrook Technology High School maths teacher, offered a unique perspective on his unique lived experience as a child of migrants who now works and resides in Western Sydney.

“The Dialogue’s Out There Summit has highlighted the role our local leaders are playing in helping support Western Sydney’s next generation, and Eddie Woo is a wonderful example of that,”  Mr Leto said.

Read more about the Out There Summit speakers and award winners on our events page.

Out There: Western Sydney Leadership Awards

Sydney Water and its Managing Director, Kevin Young, has taken out the prestigious 2019 Pemulwuy Prize at the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue’s annual Out There Summit held at Bankstown’s Bryan Brown Theatre, today.

Named after the famed local Indigenous warrior, the Dialogue created The Pemulwuy Prize to honour a leading group that has made an outstanding contribution to the region, with past winners including the Bankstown Poetry Slam, the Western Sydney Diabetes Initiative and Savannah Pride. 

Sydney Water was one of seven Leadership Award finalists in contention for the Pemulwuy Prize (Leadership Prize recipients listed below), with the top-gong judged by the Dialogue’s Patrons.

Dialogue Executive Director Adam Leto paid tribute to the success of Sydney Water, which through its Managing Director Kevin Young, had proven to be a willing regional collaborator and major contributor on planning issues.

“Managing Director Kevin Young has led Sydney Water’s success over the past five years, with the state-owned corporation playing a key role in helping shape the region’s environmental, social and economic future – from its office in Parramatta,” Dialogue Executive Director, Adam Leto, said.

“Sydney Water has embraced new technologies, innovations and partnerships that have saved tax-payers millions of dollars, while also generating improved environmental outcomes.

“It has shown that it also has a firm eye on the future, having worked closely with councils, the Greater Sydney Commission, the State and Federal Governments, fellow utility groups and the private sector to ensure that water is firmly embedded within the early parts of the urban planning and design of Western Sydney.”  

Sydney Water and its Managing Director, Kevin Young has taken out the Pemulwuy Prize in recognition of the organisation’s ongoing contribution to environmental, economic and social outcomes in Western Sydney.

The 2019 Leadership Prize winners announced today are:

·         Billie Sankovic, CEO, Western Sydney Community Forum, Leadership Prize for her contribution to Public Policy with the Build Beyond Bricks Report

·         Usman Iftikhar, Leadership Prize for Entrepreneurial Achievement for empowering refugees and providing professional and personal support to migrant entrepreneurs

·         Phil Gould AM, Leadership Prize for Regional Advocacy for his commitment to community development and services to charity

·         Richard Errington, Leadership Prize for Innovation and Reputation for driving reputational change through the establishment of West HQ, including Sydney Coliseum, and as a key partner in the inaugural Run West and his role in regional branding

·         Dorothy Hoddinott AO, Leadership Prize for Community Advocacy for services in education and for advocacy for refugees and migrants in Western Sydney

·         Dr Aniss Chami, Leadership Prize for Corporate Achievement for his corporate success through Vitex Pharmaceuticals

·         Kevin Young, Managing Director, Sydney Water, Leadership Prize for Sustainability and Collaboration, and the Pemulwuy Prize, for an ongoing contribution to environmental, economic and social outcomes in Western Sydney

A full run-down of all award winners can be found at

The Out There Summit saw some of Australia’s most recognised leaders meet in Bankstown, including Former NSW Premier Hon. Bob Carr and Greater Sydney Commission Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull AO as well as NSW Education Minister Hon. Sarah Mitchell.

Out There also featured presentations of the Western Sydney Leadership Education Scholarship, presented to local senior high school students, and an address by one of the world’s most famous maths teachers, Eddie Woo. Known widely as Mr WooTube, he was named Australia’s 2018 Local Hero, but today he outlined his vision for the future of Western Sydney education, and its role in unlocking the potential of the region.

NSW rugby legend Phil ‘Gus’ Gould AM also addressed the 300-strong audience as part of the summit, which saw live entertainment from award winning Punchbowl Boys’ High band 320 as well as a poetry slam by Australian Actor Bryan Brown.

Productions by Western Sydney filmmakers were also featured at the summit, showcasing the creative talent in the region.

“Since 2016 Out There has proved to be the place where Australian leaders discuss the important policies shaping the nation and celebrate very best of Western Sydney achievement,” Mr Leto said.

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue is a not-for-profit community initiative designed to give voice to this dynamic region and boost its social and economic progress.

Read more about the Out There Summit and award winners via our website events page.