Thank you all very much. Gee, following on from Chris Dore and Gladys Berejiklian is pretty tough, two great speeches, give them another round of applause.
So thank you very much, Chris Dore and Mick Carroll for the terrific leadership the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph have shown. Michael Miller from News Corporation is also here, Scott Morrison and all of my federal parliamentary colleagues. Gladys Berejiklian who has spoken so well and we’re working so well together and your state parliamentary colleagues. On the other side of the chamber, Luke Foley the New South Wales Opposition Leader and of course Anthony Albanese, very committed in his role tonight, representing the Opposition Leader, thanks Albo, good to be here. Former New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and of course, above all, as Gladys said, all the Western Sydney University and TAFE mentorship winners.
Now I acknowledge that we meet on the land of the Cabrogal people of the Darug Nation. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.
I am thrilled to be here tonight. Lucy sends her apologies, she’s overseas. But as you know, she’s been so committed to the work that we’re all doing to build a greater city and a greater Western Sydney. I want to just acknowledge again, the terrific leadership the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and News Corporation generally has provided to this. Chris, you and Mick have got very big megaphones and you’re right; sometimes the photo shop can be a bit confronting, there’s no doubt about that.
But, but, the big thing is, that you have consistently stood up for the city, for the city where your readers live. You have put your front page where the heart of your community is and we thank you for that.
Now, this is the third time I’ve addressed this forum, so I want to speak not just about our plans for Western Sydney, but what we are delivering.
Western Sydney has been part of our nation’s history forever. From the people of the Darug and Eora Nations, who met and hunted here 60,000 years ago, to the early European settlers — my forebears included — to today’s pioneers, dreamers, workers and entrepreneurs. Western Sydney is the aspirational heartland of Australia. It is where Australians come to start a family, build a business, make a home, make a new life.
The region is already fulfilling so much of its potential, but it’s also a place of enormous promise.
Sydney’s population will reach – we’re told - 8.8 million in the next 40 years. We must plan for that now. Much of that increase will be in Western Sydney, which will grow by more than a million people in the next two decades. As we seek to accommodate and nurture that growth, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new city; a city capable of harnessing the spirit that calls all who settle in Western Sydney.
It will be Sydney’s third city, but as Gladys said, will not be ranked third behind the Eastern City, the CBD or the Central City in Parramatta. Western Sydney’s beating heart is its people and the city we build will be unique, because it will be built by them and designed to serve them. We have building blocks here that any city planner would dream of. Geography, environment and the proud, diverse communities who call Western Sydney home. Let's remember, this is not just brownfields development, much of it is greenfields.
People who speed past on their way to the Blue Mountains or the Snowy Mountains don't appreciate the natural beauty as often as they should, beyond the M7, the cross-over where the city runs out and the countryside begins. Where the density and industry gives way to fields of opportunity.
In the shadow of the Blue Mountains we have a great network of waterways, the mighty Nepean River, snaking 178 kms from south to north, to the Colo and Georges Rivers, Eastern Creek, South Creek and Badgery’s Creek, Prospect Creek, as well as stretches of the original Cumberland woodland, gullies, plains and open, rolling hills.
All of this is about liveability, the social value of which is obvious. But it has a huge economic value as well. Believe me, liveable cities are an enormous advantage as Australia compete for talent. People want to move here, build businesses here, make their homes here. We all have a vested interest in Australia’s liveable cities and ensuring that we do a much better job at city-shaping in the future, than we have done in the past.
Now, the foundations of a great city are simple but essential; affordable housing, good transport, easy access to employment, study, recreation, reliable communications, affordable energy and water.
The new Western Parkland City of which Gladys spoke will be an economic powerhouse, but it will also be green city and a liveable city. It must be a truly 30-minute city, one that easily connects people to the places where they want to be and to the people they want to be with. So we need smart, well-designed, walkable density.
Cooler, greener cities are more liveable. Western Sydney does not have is the cool ocean breezes of the eastern city. So, the NSW Government’s decision to plant five million trees in Sydney by 2030, reducing temperatures by increasing the tree canopy, is a really valuable step.
Liveability of course, is at the core of the Western Sydney City Deal that the Premier and I signed with eight local governments in March. When I was here last year, I said that we would finalise the City Deal for Western Sydney and we have done so. It is a historic game-changer. It unites all three levels of Government in a common purpose: to make Western Sydney one of the best places in Australia to live and work.
Quality of life is at the centre of every development. Infrastructure will be planned and delivered in advance — think about that - not retrofitted after the growing pains have emerged.
The City Deal will help us provide the public transport, housing, employment and education that the region needs. It will coordinate investments in Western Sydney, including the North-South Rail Link which we will build together, a $150 million Liveability Program and the $30 million Western Parkland housing package.
You know, for all of our federation, the Commonwealth and the States have often had the same objectives. But they’ve been like ships, more or less heading in the same direction, but all too often passing each other in the night. The City Deals bring, for the first time, Federal, State and local government to the table, to agree on what they want to achieve and commit themselves to work together. This deal, the Western Sydney City deal, builds on the federal government’s, our government’s, $5.3 billion investment in building the Western Sydney Airport and a $2.9 billion contribution for critical road upgrades through the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan. Now, that money has already improved Narellan Road, Wetherill Street, Camden Valley Way, Ross Street, Eagle Vale Drive. We’ve upgraded intersections on the Cumberland Highway and at Ross Street. Work is underway on Bringelly Road and the Northern Road. The much-needed Appin Road upgrade, which I promised in the 2016 election, is also under construction.
The Western Sydney City Deal will help us plan an ‘aerotropolis’ employment precinct that will create thousands of jobs. At the recent Aerotropolis Investor Forum, the Premier and I saw how keen investors are to get in on the ground floor of that historic opportunity. William Inglis of course has already moved their stables from Sydney’s east to a site next to the Warwick Farm Racecourse, including a five-star hotel. A wonderful drawcard for tourists and horse racing enthusiasts alike.
Mark Webster, who is the chief executive, offered the perfect endorsement when he said: “We don't see ourselves in Western Sydney, we see ourselves as being at the centre of the new Sydney.” “At the centre of the new Sydney.” Mark said they were confident to make this investment because of my Government’s commitment to build the Western Sydney Airport.
Now, the airport was another one of our early commitments to Western Sydney. It was greeted with a bit of cynicism. Plenty of politicians have made plenty of promises about the airport. But I knew that it would transform the region, so I was determined, as were my colleagues including the Treasurer here, to deliver on that promise.
Construction starts on the Western Sydney Airport in a few months, with the movement of more than 1.8 million cubic metres of earth at the airport site, as well as road and drainage works. Now, the airport will not just create thousands of jobs in itself, it will also attract many other industries drawn to Western Sydney, because naturally the airport will provide a gateway for their goods to the rest of the world.
Of course, we have to acknowledge it was the Hawke Government that first announced Badgery’s Creek as the approved site for a second airport in 1986. But it is not the oldest project in New South Wales that my Government is getting on with building. We’re building the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme. First conceived in the 60s, the last detailed plans were done in 1991 and then duly put in the too-hard basket, before we revived the project last year.
Many Governments announce projects, my Government is getting on and building them.
Now, the pioneering spirit that first drew people to Western Sydney is as strong as ever. But everyone needs more opportunities, whether you are a subcontractor or a tradie, a small business owner a small business owner setting up shop, a student looking for a job, or a young family saving for their first home. It’s my government’s job to encourage that aspiration.
In the 2016 election campaign, we promised a stronger economy and more jobs.
Jobs and growth. Scott and I said it repeatedly actually over eight weeks. I hope everyone heard it.
But we’re delivering. Last year we had record jobs growth; 415,000 plus new jobs in 2017, the strongest calendar year of jobs growth in Australia’s history. And yesterday’s National Accounts saw stronger economic growth; 1 per cent in the last quarter alone and 3.1 per cent over the year to 31 March.
So, what do better economic conditions mean to the people of Western Sydney? They mean more investment and more jobs. More local jobs and better paid jobs. It means companies like Innov8, which installs and repairs state-of-the-art traffic management and safety systems, can afford to invest more and hire more. Innov8 is growing rapidly, thanks to the construction boom in NSW. Gladys, they’re great admirers of the government. When I visited last month Managing Director told me that our policies, like the instant asset write off for smaller businesses, had helped expand his business that had enabled him to get ahead. He started off with two employees, now he has eight. He plans to double that in the years to come. And you know, just remember this - I know everyone speculates about how we’re travelling with our tax cuts for companies in the Senate and you know, all will be revealed in due course – but just remember this; we’ve already achieved tax relief for businesses with turnover of up to $50 million a year. That’s not a giant business by the way, that’s not a giant business. There a hundreds of thousands of them, millions of them in fact. They are overwhelmingly family-owned Australian business and they employ more than half of the private sector workforce. These are the businesses that are investing and they’re having a go, and they’re hiring. That is why we’re seeing that strong jobs growth.
We know that Australians know best how to spend their money, not the Government.
So, we are also providing modest tax relief for ten million Australian taxpayers, including 4.4 million on middle incomes, who will receive the full $530 in a tax refund in the first year of our plan. Many of those taxpayers are right here in Western Sydney. More than half a million taxpayers in the region will benefit in the first year and more than 200,000 of those will get the full $530.
So, that’s an extra $530 in the pocket for a high school teacher, or a bricklayer, or a nurse on $75,000, and another $3,740 over the first seven years of our tax plan.
So, our commitment is to enterprise, reward aspiration and our policies are doing that. Everything we’re doing is part of a well thought-out economic plan, designed to deliver jobs and growth. We are delivering it. The numbers are there, whether it’s in the employment figures or in the national accounts.
Now, we’re all inspired to be here tonight, to hear the stories of our mentorship winners. They’re the future of Western Sydney. Like them, we’re filled with optimism for the region.
Of course we all have good intentions, but our vision must be matched by outcomes.
It’s time that Western Sydney’s future moved out of the glossy brochures and onto the streets, offices and shop floors, schools and homes.
And so it is, because we are dreamers and builders, determined to match the poetry of possibility, with the prose of action and achievement.
Thank you very much.