The Dialogue will support the YES campaign in the Voice to Parliament referendum. This recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia and reflects our pride that Greater Western Sydney is home to one of the largest urban Indigenous populations in this country.
Metro Mayhem gives us the Bankstown Blues
Christopher Brown AM
Premier Chris Minns has wasted no time tackling the Sydney Metro mess that is unfolding in NSW and he didn’t mince his words.
The Premier stamped his authority on the state’s transport infrastructure with a double-barrel press conference in April where he announced an independent review into Sydney Metro West, Southwest and City.
The review, to be led by Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Patron, Mike Mrdak AO, will examine delivery models and make recommendations for getting maximum value out of the project which may involve discussions around land use and urban renewal.
The crucial detail in the review is the examination of the troubled, but essential, Bankstown to Sydenham line as part of Sydney Metro City and Southwest.
The 13.5km conversion of the old train line to Sydney Metro standard will be the government’s biggest challenge in the metro network as they fight to keep it on the tracks.
The concept of ‘metrofying’ old heavy rail lines and retro-fitting their stations had taken off inside Transport for NSW as a lower-cost and less-disruptive alternative to pulling up tracks or tunnelling new lines and underground stations.
However, the Premier should not take a backwards step when it comes to completing the line as part of a fully integrated metro system.
Initial briefings to the government will be like nails on a chalkboard for commuters with the Sydenham-Bankstown section of the track to be shut for 15 months with replacement buses bearing the load.
The Dialogue knows that senior Ministers in the Perrottet Government wanted to scrap it earlier this year but with hundreds of millions of dollars already spent, common sense tells us it is too late to abandon the project. It is also essential for the urban regeneration of Bankstown CBD, servicing the new WSU campus and potentially a relocated Bankstown Hospital, that Labor will hopefully confirm within months.
We’re now in the trusted hands of Mike Mrdak, and highly respected Sydney Metro CEO, Peter Regan, to chart our path forward out of this metro maze – and allow us all to focus on the other parts of the West that also deserve and demand better rail access, including Liverpool, Campbelltown and Blacktown.
The Case for Camellia
Chris Minns has confirmed the Sydney Metro review will “look at whether it’s appropriate to have more stations”.
A metro station at Camellia was ruled out by then-Premier Gladys Berejiklian despite pressure from interest groups, including the Dialogue, and an eleventh-hour plea from then-Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer.
As it stands, a seven-kilometre stretch of Metro West between Parramatta and Olympic Park will be without a station, but Chris Minns has given the green light for fierce debate over whether the state government adds to the Metro bill.
Considering the pressure to increase housing supply in the Central River City, maximising the potential of the Camellia site could also stimulate development of much-needed housing stock between the CBD and Sydney Olympic Park.
The Dialogue successfully led the coalition of Councils and land owners that secured support for the Olympic Corridor light rail through this precinct but not allowing for the heavy uplift that Metro can provide by having a station at Camellia could be addressed by the new Minns administration.
HOUSING CRISIS: NSW needs an extra 62,800 dwellings a year for the next five years to keep up with population demand and a huge number of them will be in Greater Western Sydney.
A new station in Camellia will kickstart urban renewal which will lead to thousands of homes with a mix of build-to-rent and affordable units taking housing pressure off residents of Western Sydney.
ACCESS: There is currently no metro stop between Parramatta CBD and Sydney Olympic Park. An intermediate stop in a place like Camellia will boost access to world-class transport links to the people of Western Sydney.
PRECINCTS: A proposed Camellia metro stop would be placed adjacent to Western Sydney University’s Rydalmere campus across the river. It would provide more opportunity for smart jobs and the conversion of a dirty old asbestos factory and oil refinery into a modern, green-tech hub.
TIMING: The original goal of Sydney Metro West was to provide a fast route from Parramatta CBD to Sydney CBD in 20 minutes. Adding more stops make the Metro West commute almost the same as a standard Express heavy rail route.
COST: The cost of Sydney’s metro future is already hitting the state’s finances hard. Adding to that cost will be a peculiar decision by the Premier especially considering adding a station would cost close to $1 billion.
REMEDIATION: When Camellia was first ruled out, a spokesperson for then Transport Minister Andrew Constance labelled the significant cost associated with site remediation at Camellia. The office said contamination and flood concerns provided “significant construction challenges”.
Top FIVE for Western Sydney Minister
Prue Car has a lot on her plate as she takes on the role of Education, Early Learning and Deputy Premier, but a big challenge awaits her in Western Sydney.
Here are five important pieces of the puzzle.
Delivering Western Sydney Aerotropolis
If the airport opens in 2026 and there is no Aerotropolis alongside, it will be marked down as a failure by state government. We desperately need more building and less planning at the Aerotropolis. Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment are at risk without a finished product.
The Minister’s dual role as Minister for Early Learning overlaps with our region’s crippling childcare deserts. Research has shown that on average, almost half of Greater Western Sydney is covered by childcare desert i.e, when three or more children are vying for each childcare spot in an area.
Lack of early childhood education access affects economies through limiting women’s participation in work and impacts on children’s educational development.
Let Western Sydney get wet, locally!
The Minister should immediately start working with Councils, Sydney Water, Parklands Trust and the Department of Planning to open up public and private assets including Western Sydney Lakes and Prospect Reservoir to allow local residents access to recreational water like their cousins in the East. Back it in with a public River Watch Agency to monitor and advise on water quality as part of a wider plan to save the rivers of the Central River City.
Redefine the Region
The governance carve-up of Western Sydney must change. The Blacktown LGA was excluded from the Western Parkland City and lucrative City Deal with Canberra.
Prue Car should also formally change the Central River City GCC Boundaries to reflect a more accurate picture of the ‘middle city’, including the LGAs of Ryde, Burwood and Strathfield and drive cultural and commercial links between these centres.
Stand up for the West in Arts, Sport & Tourism
The role of the Western Sydney minister is to be an influential voice for the region inside the Cabinet Room. Beyond the big ticket items of health, education and transport, numerous reviews and reports have shown how disproportionately arts and tourism funding for our region has traditionally been.
The repair can begin with the allocation of a specific regional fund, delivered through Destination NSW, for events and tourism promotion in the West, to help prepare for the opening of the WSI Airport in 2026.
Public Service Shake-Up
As GWS Insider predicted last month, Chris Minns has swung the axe.
Education boss Georgina Harrisson, Treasury leader Paul Grimes PSM and Transport Secretary Rob Sharp have been removed from their posts less than one month since the new government was elected – under the ‘old school’ eye of former Labor Co-ordinator General and Olympic building supremo, David Richmond.
Replacing them in ‘acting’ roles are Murat Dizdar, former Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DP&C), Michael Coutts-Trotter and the highly respected Howard Collins.
Treasurer Daniel Mookhey has brought some firepower into his office with Mckell Institute CEO Michael Buckland joining as his Chief of Staff, joining other star recruits like John Holland’s Matt Vane-Tempest to Transport, UTS executive, Amy Persson to Housing, 2000 Olympics PR whiz, Andrew Woodward to Local Government and former Albanese staffer, Damien O’Connor to Roads.
In terms of agencies, the Greater Cities Commission sits under Minister for Planning Paul Scully which was previously with Minister for Cities Rob Stokes and before that sat with the Premier. The jury is still out on the future of Landcom with both Planning and Housing eying the agency – and this decision will also affect the carve up of TAHE and its non-core transport assets.
Upper House Deputy Leader, John Graham is lead Cluster Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade – another development for which we pushed strongly.
Infrastructure NSW will sit with Premier Chris Minns and will be jointly held by his Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, but the relevance and performance of this assurance agency had been in question considering the cost-breakouts of several infrastructure projects, the lack of planning for labour and materials shortages and the absence of inter-agency coordination that bedevilled projects like the CBD Light Rail.
Inside the Minns Labor Government
Minns and Labor fell two seats short of majority government and will govern with 45 seats in the 93 seat Legislative Assembly.
It was, however, clear from early on during election night that the NSW Labor Party’s gains across the state were so significant that it would be the only party able to form government. The Coalition finished with 36 seats, leaving nine Independents and three Green MPs for Minns and his team to work with in a Minority Government.
Now the sitting dates are set and a budget set to be handed down on September 12, the Premier and his team will get down to business on their policy priorities. That includes:
- Cost of living relief
- Delivering the state’s bulging infrastructure pipeline
- Schools & hospitals
- Addressing the housing crisis
- Reviewing the state’s finances
Dialogue Welcomes New Partner
We are proud to announce CPB Contractors as a partner of the Dialogue.
CPB Contractors is a valued construction partner with an extensive project portfolio in Greater Western Sydney.
They were the winners of the Outstanding Transport Project for their work on Northern Road Stage 5 & 6 at the 2022 Boomtown Project of the Year Awards Dinner.
GWS Council Additions
Three important additions have been made to Greater Western Sydney councils over the last six months.
Penrith City Council has announced it’s new General Manager Andrew Moore. Mr Moore has spent more than 20 years at Council, most recently as Director, Corporate Services.
His appointment comes after a busy six months for a number of local councils in Greater Western Sydney, including Liverpool, which announced former NSW MP John Ajaka as its CEO in December 2022, while Andrew Carfield was handed the reins as Camden GM.
Gail Connoly was appointed CEO at Parramatta City Council, last month.
Hume Community Housing appoints new Chief Executive Officer
The Dialogue congratulates Brad Braithwaite on his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Hume Community Housing.
Mr. Braithwaite had previously been Deputy and Interim CEO of Anglicare NSW and joins the community housing provider at a time where affordable housing is the hottest policy priority nationwide.