Creating an aerotropolis is an exciting moment in time

I don’t think we’ve got our head around how much the Western Sydney Airport is going to deliver, Liverpool City Council Chief Executive Officer, Kiersten Fishburn said at the CEDA NSW Western Sydney growth series event.

“The idea of creating an aerotropolis, taking advantage of the fact that it’s a greenfield airport and linking it back in to the CBDs of Liverpool, Penrith and Campbelltown is a really exciting moment in time,” she said.

“Getting to a job that’s close to home is crucial if you want your economy to buzz.

“Seventy per cent of the Liverpool population leave Liverpool each day to go to work and that’s not unique to Liverpool, that’s a Western Sydney story across the board.

“Finding that range of jobs, the smart jobs as well as the blue-collar jobs, is completely critical.”

Ms Fishburn said in the Liverpool Council’s last community survey, 87 per cent of people surveyed said they believed the Western Sydney Airport would bring economic benefit to the Liverpool area.

“That’s an extraordinarily powerful statistic,” she said.

“They see this as a chance to get jobs for their children.

“One of the misconceptions about Western Sydney is that people go there because they have no other choice, and the moment they achieve more, they leave the west.

“That’s simply not true anymore.

“We don’t have to be like the eastern city or the central city, we can be something distinctly western.”

Greater Sydney Commission Deputy Chief Commissioner and Economic Commissioner, Geoff Roberts says Sydney’s economy has a structural problem.

“As we’ve grown, we haven’t grown the distribution of our jobs,” he said.

“A disproportionately large number of our knowledge intensive, health and education jobs are located in our first city.

“As we’ve grown west, we have a higher disconnect between where people are living and where people are working.

“That’s one of the core functions that’s driving Sydney as one of the most congested cities in the world.

“If we keep going that way over the next 20 years as we welcome another 1.2 to 1.3 million people, and over 40 years another 3 million people, we’re going to be in deep trouble.”

Mr Roberts said aiming to turn Sydney into a 30-minute city is not the answer to congestion issues.

“It is impossible to connect 100 per cent of Sydney-siders to a 30-minute city and it’s not the desire of 100 per cent of Sydney-siders to be connected to a 30-minute city,” he said.

“Those people that can afford to live in Palm Beach are probably in Palm Beach because it’s not connected to a 30-minute city.

“From a productive perspective, we’re spending far too much time in motorcars and in trains because we haven’t really thought enough about the spatial geography of the economic hubs of our city.”

Western Sydney Local Health District Chair, Richard Alcock AO said there’s a real eastern city mindset that the leadership group need to overcome.

“There’s a huge attitudinal shift that we all need to make about what it means to live in a great city,” he said.

“Living in a great city is about movement, the mobility of people from one precinct to another as a matter of course.”

Mr Alcock said it was a game changer that the Sydney councils are now taking a more long-term and broader approach to master planning.

“I think that’s really the breakthrough, planning decisions are being made using international best practice,” he said.

“Bringing the smartest people together to undertake roles in planning areas – from a very holistic perspective.

“As opposed to in decades past where they were much more localised.”

Mr Alcock said in addition to this, Sydney should aim to work more collaboratively to achieve better outcomes. 

“I have experienced the power of collaboration in Melbourne, everyone is competing in Sydney – it’s institutional,” he said.

“The geographic divide between the east and west of the city is very entrenched, you don’t feel that in Melbourne.

“When Melbourne is going to do something, they do it from a whole of government and a whole of public and private basis.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is work collaboratively with all of our different stakeholders and to really encourage people not to see competition but to see collaboration and to see the interconnectedness of everything that we do.

“That’s the missing piece in this, we’re too easily fragmented.”