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.
Congratulations Chris Minns. Now it’s time to look under the hood.
The new Premier walks into the job facing an eye-watering $200 billion budget debt, and the threat of that ballooning over the next few years thanks to inflation.
Labor’s budget costings show it will take the knife to top public servant salaries, including a 15% cut to create a ‘leaner senior executive’.
It is a bad day to be a consultant, too. Word is Treasurer Mookhey will reduce spending here by $35 million per year over the forward estimates.
He will start by reducing spending on agency contractors by $1.6b over four years. This is the bad practice of paying consultants to sit in public service roles, costing the taxpayer twice as much as the salary for that job if they hired their own worker.
For Labor, that’s low hanging fruit, but businesses, local councils and community organisations will ask, what else is on the chopping block?
Cuts in WestInvest projects are likely within the $5 billion fund allocated to government projects. Labor said it would honour the $2b set aside for Council and community grants, but it wants to redirect some of the remaining $3b to fund education and health projects in the West.
Labor’s costings outlined $1.8b-plus of new projects under WestInvest, which raises questions about the future of the Coalition’s $3b project commitments under the fund.
Coalition projects announced in the twilight of the election, were ‘business as usual’ initiatives (and not the promised transformational projects’). Much of it was for health, roads and schools, but Labor’s revision of the WestInvest spending could see nervous bureaucrats waiting to get a “Dear John” letter from Treasury.
One likely winner will be the long-forgotten Fairfield LGA. Mayor Frank Carbone’s late ambush of Labor when he threatened to run as an independent in Cabramatta, might have faded on hope of a few hundred million of extra funding for a Fairfield Hospital upgrade.
Chris Minns has won government off the back of GWS electorates flipping on March 25, with the $5 billion Westinvest fund proving the vital thrust for key Western Sydney pledges.
However, the party is not over for Westinvest, with the new government needing to address how they will meet all their commitments.
ALP costings show a total allocation of Westinvest funds for major projects at over $1.8 billion alongside NSW Treasury advice suggesting the total allocated funds that aren’t contractually committed in Westinvest stands at $637 million as of 9 March 2023.
Labor has already committed to not scrap community project grants (Competitive Round & Local Government Allocation), but attendees of our State Election Forum will have heard Deputy Leader Prue Car and Paul Scully discuss the funds allocated to state departments that could be reallocated.
With just over $600 million in Westinvest available to the new government, there is a chance that projects announced by the previous government will either need to be cut, or Labor must find other sources of funding to meet their election pledges.
When it comes to the new bosses in planning, Paul Scully and Rose Jackson will preside over ‘Broom’ and ‘Boom.’
A major focus of the new planning and housing ministers will be social, affordable, and especially key worker housing in Greater Western Sydney, and encouraging public and private partnerships to increase investment in the sector.
Industry has long lamented the confusing and slow planning system which is set to be overhauled with a streamlining of development processes.
Chris Minns has flagged he will give the planning minister more responsibility to make the planning system easier for the community and developers.
In the lead-up to the NSW election, key players in the Labor team identified how they would tackle the ‘silos’ of planning so decisions aren’t bogged down in the bureaucratic slow-lane.
Paul Scully was a critic of the previous government’s structure of 13 different agencies reporting to different ministers – including Rob Stokes as Cities Minister and Anthony Roberts in the Planning portfolio.
Labor will create a new state housing agency, Homes NSW, which will see the Land and Housing Corporation, Aboriginal Housing Office and the Department of Communities and Justice Housing combined to tackle the state’s housing problem.
The future of the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) is also in limbo as a proposed review of the organisation is undertaken.
By the time the Coalition’s time in office came to an end on Saturday, only two members of cabinet were from Western Sydney, and both those members – David Elliott and Geoff Lee – retired at the election.
The ALP now hold the majority of the GWS electorates in state parliament.
The Coalition’s big build in Western Sydney will be inherited by Labor who will have potentially more members of the cabinet from our region led by Treasurer Daniel Mookhey MLC and Deputy Premier and Londonderry MP Prue Car who were sworn into the interim cabinet on Tuesday.
As it stands, Bankstown’s Jihad Dib, Canterbury’s Sophie Cotsis, Granville’s Julia Finn, Campbelltown’s Greg Warren and Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong are vying for a spot at the big kids’ table in government.
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle is a former member of the shadow ministry who would be vying for a spot in cabinet.
Strathfield MP Jason Yat-Sen Li and Blacktown MP and former Mayor Stephen Bali could come into consideration for a place in the ministerial wing of Macquarie Street.
The Dialogue has backed major regional tourism operators who have called on the government for $40 million in funding to develop Western Sydney’s tourism industry after figures reveal Western Parkland City received less than $900,000 out of $82 million of events funding in 2021/22.
The previous government broke ground on transport links, road upgrades and bricks and mortar to prepare for take-off at WSI, but the next challenge is making Western Sydney an international destination rather than a flight stop before getting on a one-hour bus to Bondi Beach.
Whether it’s swimming spots, scenic tours or spice festivals, the next Minister for Tourism is going to have a big task on their hands to support the industry in Western Sydney.
Part of that will undoubtedly involve prosecuting a strong argument internally for prioritisation of the visitor economy in Greater Western Sydney.
The Dialogue is hopeful that the Destination Management Plans that Destination NSW is currently completing for the Central River City and Western Parkland City can be coupled with appropriate funding and provide a roadmap to support arts, culture and tourism in GWS.
Read more about the proposal in the Daily Telegraph.
The Dialogue is proud to welcome eight outstanding new partners to our network ranging from infrastructure to the care economy and tourism.
As the Dialogue expands, we are pleased to see industry players value and seek to contribute to a positive vision for Greater Western Sydney.
The Dialogue congratulates City of Parramatta Council for their appointment of Gail Connolly PSM as CEO.
Ms Connolly is a great addition to the team in Parramatta and brings with her over 30 years of experience in local government including senior roles with City of Sydney, Campbelltown City, City of Ryde, Gold Coast and Georges River Councils.