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The one-in-ten Australians who live in Western Sydney are on the cusp of creating something truly unique.
In a process run throughout 2015, Deloitte has brought together more than 400 key stakeholders from the region have come together to develop a new blueprint for the future of Western Sydney. The collaborative initiative constitutes a new narrative and strategy for securing the long-term economic and social future of this important and often-overlooked region.
Here are five key ways policy makers are going to have their thinking disrupted by Shaping Future Cities – Designing Western Sydney.
A hand up not a hand out
Western Sydney is characterised in many different ways, some counter-productive and not reflective of the reality. One old characterisation suggests the region is only interested in handouts, which may have fed traditional patterns of underinvestment in Western Sydney. The region’s business and community leaders are actively debunking this myth, drawing attention to the thriving business environment, world class health precincts, high ranking schools, and international tourism attractions contributing significantly to the Australian economy. Rather than asking for a handout, the region is seeking the kind of prioritised infrastructure investment that will unleash the innovative private sector and diverse local community to reach their potential.
How can public policy support business investment in the region?
Increased certainty to de-risk investments
Business and community groups are poised for wider opportunities coming from Western Sydney Airport, WestConnex, the M9, and an orbital rail network, which will increasingly erode the ‘tyranny of distance’ by connecting the region to new markets and jobs. These latest investments will require Olympic-scale thinking and coordination of infrastructure delivery across 9,000 square kilometres, or approximately 12 times the urban area of Singapore.
New mechanisms for long-term planning, urban renewal, development and project delivery are needed to meet the challenge. Old parochialisms and tribal institutions should take a back seat or be ‘re-envisioned’ to create the level of certainty necessary to attract the full potential of investments in Western Sydney.
What risks can public policy mitigate for private sector investments?
Designing policy around one global city
Do we become a big city, or do we become a great city? Western Sydney is pulling back from the brink of suburban sprawl and being re-imagined as a key component within the overall urban ecosystem of Greater Sydney. Eastern Sydney is reinvigorating industrial spaces for residential living and shared purposes. The opportunity is there for Western Sydney to ride a new wave of higher-value-add manufacturing on the fringe of Australia’s largest consumer market, and with ready access to global markets next through a developed port network and with a new regional airport.
Policies ought to facilitate mobility of labour and business to maximise and repurpose Eastern Sydney. Connecting Sydney’s regional centres will be a top priority for ensuring the state does not come to a standstill with the high volumes of people and products coming and going from the west. One of the biggest game changers is the proposed Western Sydney Orbital Rail corridor linking the North West and South West suburbs in a more polycentric rail network.
Do you leverage Western Sydney in your plans for Sydney?
Putting Skin in the Game
A commitment to creating 200,000 great new jobs for Western Sydney by 2020 unites all contributors to the blueprint. It is an ambitious target, but necessary to address the existing jobs deficit in the region. While feedback from stakeholders regularly identified the role of government in building greater skills and training, most businesses and industry representatives who were involved in our consultation process put their hands up to take responsibility as the primary job creators for the region. Designing Western Sydney aims to facilitate a range of strategies that align the efforts of government, tertiary and training institutions, and the private sector to meet this ambitious target.
How can we support jobs growth in Western Sydney?
Enabling a Narrative Driven by People, Place and Purpose
Stakeholders in the Designing Western Sydney blueprint process agree it isn’t government’s role to craft the new narrative for the region. Business and community must drive the narrative, and government leaders need to provide the policy framework to help achieve it. Rigorous analysis against a background of stakeholder consultations identified the industries that Western Sydney has an intrinsic comparative advantage in. Key catalyst and enabling industries that will drive success include: health, education, manufacturing, agribusiness, international education, tourism, construction, and transport and logistics.
We must tackle the local skills deficits, underdeveloped cultural infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, and pockets of disadvantage potentially restraining the full development of these industries. The blueprint develops a strategy for the region’s working age population to have the skills, willingness and confidence to take advantage of the global opportunities these industries are going to create over the next 5 years and beyond.
How can public policy support and leverage the new narrative?
Theo has experience providing economic, policy, and commercial advice to public sector organisations and the private sector entities they engage with, particularly in the assessment and review of how government services can be delivered and the assessment, review and development of economic and social infrastructure. Theo’s primary focus is assisting clients assess the merits and value proposition of transformative urban renewal, service delivery reform, and major infrastructure investments.