Population growth will create second CBD in Sydney

Transport and land use planning are the same thing, Infrastructure NSW Chief Executive Officer, Jim Betts has told a CEDA audience in Sydney.

“You can’t plan your transport network unless you know where people are going to live and where people are going to work because that discerns their demand for travel,” he said.

Discussing developing Parramatta, Mr Betts said significant population growth will create a need for a western employment area.

“In Parramatta, Sydney is unique in having a genuine prospect of developing a second CBD,” he said.

“It’s about developing it (Parramatta) as a cultural precinct, as a commercial precinct, making sure it is supported by really high class infrastructure,” he said.

On the topic of infrastructure priorities, Mr Betts said public transport infrastructure is essential to create economic powerhouses.

“There is something arbitrary about the Commonwealth defining its remit being about investment in roads and rail freight and not about other forms of transport infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Betts said at a federal level, he would like bodies such as Infrastructure Australia given the opportunity to provide advice on development and investment priorities. 

“I’d like to see that up for discussion,” he said.

“(But) I wouldn’t like to see that constrained by what I think is a relatively arbitrary position about what they (Federal Government) will fund and won’t fund.”

Also discussing infrastructure policy at the event, Sydney Motorway Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Peter Regan said both Commonwealth and State Governments have helped get important projects started.

“I think in the road space we couldn’t be anything more than very appreciative about what the Commonwealth Government is doing in relation to both the North and West Connex,” he said.

“We’ve had direct grants coming from both the Commonwealth and State to help get those projects up and running.”

Mr Regan said bespoke financing has also been developed for West Connex’s second stage with the Commonwealth Government providing a $2 billion loan.

“It’s an excellent mechanism and we’re very appreciative of the work that both the Government and bureaucracy in Canberra are doing to make these things happen,” he said.

NSW Treasury Infrastructure and Structured Finance Unit Director, Amy Brown also discussed the importance of financing and engaging markets for infrastructure development. 

Ms Brown said it is important to make sure that projects put to the market are doable and bankable for the private sector.

“From our perspective it’s important to make sure there is sufficient market engagement around upcoming projects,” she said.

On the skills needed for delivering infrastructure and financing, Ms Brown said from a government perspective it is about harnessing existing knowledge and using skills.

“I would of course advocate that we need a dedicated unit who specialises in innovative financing and private sector procurement,” she said.