June 2024


Why This Budget Item Will Make a Big Difference

Adam Leto, Chief Executive Officer

It may have been referred to as “back to basics”, but there was still plenty to like in this year’s State Budget. 

One of the most important, yet understated, items that flew under the radar, has the potential to make the biggest difference.   

As part of the Budget Papers, the NSW Government, for the first-time has put out for consultation its new Performance and Wellbeing Framework, a clear set of measures that will track the government’s progress on reforms in housing, energy, education and healthcare.  

This is a positive shift, one that switches the focus from the economy as the main indicator of success, and follows the lead of the Federal Government’s well-being framework, introduced last year, as a way to understand what really matters to the community.   

I am especially pleased that it is aligned to the release of the Dialogue’s GWS Community & Wellbeing Survey Report the first time this well-being model has been tested outside of Government, in Greater Western Sydney.  

Our report, done in partnership with RPS and Taverners Research Group, polled and identified the priorities of Western Sydney residents and their desire for access to quality healthcare, stronger financial security, and personal safety. 

Whether it’s helping drive economic development, or respond to social disadvantage (the type that is still far too prevalent in some pockets in the region) this type of insight, and understanding of the issues that matter locally, will hopefully help inform public policy and decision-making across all layers of Government.  

Following consultation on the NSW Government’s Performance and Wellbeing Framework, we expect that there will be a clear direction, and policy focus, on addressing the issues that matter most to communities

South West Sydney Housing Program Revealed

A stellar line-up of speakers will feature at the Dialogue’s South West Sydney Housing & Infrastructure Forum in Campbelltown on Thursday, 25 July, 2024. 

Join planners, landowners, consultant and property experts to examine the growth and development opportunities across our booming south west. 

This half-day forum will gather key stakeholders from state and local government and across a range of sectors, to discuss the critical infrastructure required to support future development, while also examining industry sentiment, supply chain and labour shortages that will impact the provision of housing.  

On the day, we’ll also identify the opportunities to bolster housing supply along the Sydney Metro Airport line, showcase some of the major residential and infrastructure projects in the pipeline, outline the need for more social and affordable housing, and look at how new developments can be matched by attractive blue and green spaces. 

Click here to view the program and register to attend. 

Building Stronger Local Government

Ahead of local government elections on September 14, the Dialogue has released its latest policy paper; Strengthening Local Government. 

This paper outlines a set of proposals aimed to equip councils with the systems, skills and funds to ensure that the level of government closest to the community, is best-positioned to respond to increasing local demands.   

Like the region itself, councils need to evolve and adapt to opportunities from major investments, including Western Sydney International Airport and multiple Metro lines. The growing population will increase demands on social services, employment, infrastructure, leisure facilities and environmental sustainability, and the skills needed to deliver them. 

This paper opens the discussion on strategies for the NSW Government to work with and empower local government to improve its governance, promote higher standards of performance and professionalism and meet community expectations. 

Read the paper here 

Lessons from East London

Christopher Brown AM

I had the pleasure to lead a return cohort of leaders from the Greater West to study urban regeneration in our sibling region of East London last month – following our initial tour in 2019.  On this trip, we refocussed our review on how the UK integrates its housing and transport development, delivering post-pandemic health & education services, local planning & governance regimes and the use of sport and arts to aid social cohesion.

A delegation of 32 local leaders across State and Local government, investors and developers, academics, housing associations and community groups spent an intensive week in East London, three weeks after London’s Mayoral election and one month before this week’s UK national election. This was a dynamic window in local politics and allowed us special insight to the big issues around the management of population, economic growth and social equity – just as we face in Sydney.

Together with Astrolabe, the Dialogue is currently writing a report about the findings, which will be presented to Deputy Premier and Western Sydney Minister, Prue Car at Parliament House on August 14.  Amongst other points, the findings will go to how Sydney can escalate its confrontation of the housing crisis by using funding partnerships with transport infrastructure to build bigger and better precincts and ramp up at-scale transfer of assets to larger not-for-profit CHPs.

It will also look at how it can strengthen the capacity of local government to step into the development space, how governments can align amenity and social legacy outcomes more closely to density to secure community support and how we all have to reinvest in a growth mentality if we are to work our way out of the cost-of-living crisis.

While the study tour was a 12 hour-a-day process, with scores of meetings with local regulators, investors, planners and operators, the cohort did enjoy a few magnificent backdrops to its punishing public policy discussions, including a lunch hosted by Baroness Valentine and Lord Bassam at the House of Lords, sponsored by Publicani, and a final dinner at the Docklands Museum with Network Rail Chair, Lord Hendy, sponsored by Laing O’Rourke.

We were also treated to a return visit to Australia House for a formal dinner to hear Crown Estates CEO, and famous son of Fairfield, Dan Labbad speak about the comparisons between East London and Western Sydney and also to hear from Prof. Andrew McNaughton who wrote the High Speed Rail report for Premier Berejiklian – that has sadly never been released.

Importantly, we used the formal dinner hosted by our High Commissioner to bestow Dialogue Life Membership on John Burton OBE, former boss of Westfield Europe and Lendlease Development Australia – recognising his career achievement and especially his instrumental role in both of our East London study tours.  

Many thanks to all those organisations that participated and supported the tour and to the delegates that made our return trip to London such a tremendous learning experience.  The full itinerary, list of delegates and bios of our incredible line up of speakers is listed here and the full report will be made available next month.

Special thanks goes to StratWest CEO, Faith Halliday and her team, who curated the entire program and the Dialogue’s Marushka Noronha and her events team, for managing pre-tour logistics, and to my colleague Brett Towers for his stellar support on tour.

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM, and John Burton OBE at Australia House
Sonia Marshall PSM

King’s Birthday Honours Westies

A special congratulations to fantastic GWS community members who have been rewarded in the King’s Birthday Honours last month.  

South West Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Officer, Sonia Marshall PSM, received a Public Service Medal for her outstanding public service to local health and particularly in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is renowned as being an inspirational and highly resilient leader committed to providing safe, compassionate healthcare. 

Western Sydney University’s Robert Gregory Simms OAM, received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Indigenous community in Western Sydney. Uncle Greg is a respected elder of the Gundungurra People and Gadigal Tribe of the Dharug Nation.  

Mr Perry Celestino also received a Meritorious Award for outstanding public service to public education, particularly in innovation to support teaching. Mr Celestino has been teaching at Macquarie Fields High School for decades and last year celebrated 50 years in the NSW education system. 

The highly respected Professor Talal Yassine AM became a Member of the Order of Australia, for his significant services to business and the community.  

Finally, a special mention to Marcus Ray, the Secretary of the Cabinet Office NSW, who also received a Meritorious Award in this year’s honours. While not being a GWS native, Mr Ray has contributed significantly to the early formation of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis during his time at the then-Department of Planning and Environment.