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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4078


Ms SCOTT (Lindsay) (21:25): The time has come for our region of Western Sydney to be reimagined, for our potential is truly unlimited. In fact, the concept of innovation is by no means a new one for our region. Many great innovators have called Western Sydney home—innovators like John Macarthur and his famous merino, or Sir Henry Parkes of Werrington. Governor Macquarie saw the opportunity of our fertile river plains. Later a Saint Mary's school teacher, Peter Dodds McCormick, wrote about it, and those words are now our national anthem.

Today, Western Sydney is our nation's third largest economy. Employment figures released in the Small Area Labour Markets publication a fortnight ago for the December 2015 quarter demonstrate that the jobless rate for the City of Penrith was 4.36 per cent, well below the Sydney, New South Wales and national unemployment rates of 5.09, 5.3 and 5.9 per cent respectively. In fact in just over a year, our local unemployment rate has fallen by 2.37 per cent, equating to some 2,500 jobs.

These are truly remarkable results, and much of this growth can be attributed to the housing and infrastructure boom that grips our region. However, Penrith council estimates 70 per cent of our local workforce commute on a daily basis. Many of these people commute in excess of 2½ hours every single day. Our local employment zones are scatted across the region in small disconnected hubs, which are not easily connected to public transport or to where people actually live. In fact, it is as if Sydney was designed on an east-west continuum with little to no regard of the north-south migrations. Research conducted by id.com estimates 74.2 per cent of Western Sydney workers commute by car, resulting in chronic congestion of local roads and motorways. This can all be squarely attributed to the ad hoc planning of former state governments, where dormitory suburbs were built with little to no regard for the proximity of where people live and where they work. Furthermore, in the next 20 years, two out of three of every new Sydneysider will make our region in Western Sydney their home.

It is critical now more than ever that wise, considered and thoughtful planning by the three tiers of government occur so that we can avoid the planning mistakes of the past. It is to this I applauded the Prime Minister's address on Friday at the National Cities Summit in Melbourne, where he said:

Liveable cities … are enormous economic assets. They are vitally important to our strong economy and we have some of the best cities, the most liveable cities in the world.

Furthermore:

We are at our most productive, our most creative, our most innovative when we are together, when we get together and that is why an efficient city, a liveable city, is absolutely critical to the development, to the growth of our economy.

As it stands, Western Sydney is not an efficient city. There is nothing efficient about long commute times, huge job deficits and chronic road congestion. Therefore, I call on the Prime Minister to ensure a city deal comes to the outer Western Sydney region. I call on him to enable the collaboration between the three tiers of government to ensure the future prosperity of our region is secured; to enable the much needed public transport options, including rail, that will link the north-west to the south-west growth sectors, not just more east-west; to support the innovation corridor, whereby our region is transformed by new and exciting developments like the Sydney Science Park at Luddenham that will be home to 12,000 jobs, 10,000 research positions and the first STEM or STEAM school in the country, together with the housing to support this development.

I call on the Prime Minister to enable us to innovate our city into the global city we know we can be. I am proud to part of a government that believes in the future of our region as we believe in ourselves. However, the time has come for our region to reimagine our future, reawaken as the powerhouse we truly are, and for us as a region to forge our own destiny. And in this I do believe our potential is unlimited.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I adjourn the House, can I say that while this is not my valedictory tonight, I am closing the House, which is a privilege that I have as the Deputy Speaker—normally the Speaker does that. I want to say that it is going to be an enormous privilege, as I enter my last week in this parliament, to be in this position to see the mace return the Speaker's office this evening.

House adjourned at 21:30