IN 1810 the only plains Governor Lachlan Macquarie saw in Western Sydney were those neighbouring the Nepean River.
Those plains signalled an opportunity for the region to be much more than an English penal colony.
At the time his vision to create “Five Towns’’ and a food bowl were ridiculed but history tells us Macquarie got it very right.
Fast forward 200 years and Western Sydney is now home to more than two million people and one of Australia’s most important growth sectors. The conversation has now turned to very different “planes’’.
For many years Western Sydney and Badgerys Creek have been at the centre of discussions around a potential second Sydney airport.
While I accept that the time may have come for a decision on Sydney’s airport needs, I remain unconvinced that Western Sydney is the answer.
I am sceptical at the forecast employment growth numbers and the integrity of impact assessments on the communities that would surround the Badgerys Creek site.
I don’t believe anyone wants aircraft noise over their homes undefined particularly if the airport arrives without a comprehensive infrastructure and jobs plan.
The benefits for local residents need to go beyond proximity to an airport.
While there are differing opinions on the merits of a second Sydney airport, it is good to see people of all political persuasions finally acknowledging the value of Western Sydney to the growth of Australia.
Show the people of Western Sydney some respect about their future needs and I’ll show you a community prepared to listen.
For Western Sydney to thrive and prosper, the debate needs to move beyond simply where a second Sydney airport should be located to a more sophisticated conversation about the very real infrastructure needs our region is crying out for.
For decades Western Sydney has been a beacon for Australians, and recent arrivals to this country, who have deciding it was the best place to build a new and rewarding life.
Unfortunately those decades saw successive governments, both state and federal, fail to plan and fund much needed physical and social infrastructure.
For far too long Western Sydney has been underutilised, undervalued and, most of all, underestimated.
The current jobs shortfall in Western Sydney is in excess of 180,000 and projected to grow to 290,000 within 20 years. Meanwhile, the population grows.
In the electorate of Lindsay there are five housing estates under construction undefined Jordan Springs, Mulgoa Rise, Caddens, Waterside and Thornton undefined with major developments under way in the north west and southwest growth sectors to meet demand. But the question remains, where will these people work?
The emergence of the University of Western Sydney as a world-class institution, together with Sydney University establishing a teaching facility adjacent to Nepean Hospital, highlights the fact we are establishing a highly educated workforce seeking skilled employment.
Currently two-thirds of Penrith residents travel east every day to work, which is unsustainable and creates strain on our inadequate road and rail infrastructure.
The people of Western Sydney deserve the opportunity to compete economically and to do that we need to create smart jobs and tap into the innovative minds of our local community.
The discussion needs to be focused more on the infrastructure needed to link the employment hubs of Western Sydney to create an economic corridor.
We need to look beyond city-centric infrastructure and truly connect the regions across Sydney.
Mulgoa, Mamre and Northern roads must be upgraded, with the latter linking Luddenham to the M4 allowing for the longer term construction of the outer Sydney Orbital.
Consideration should also be given to intermodal terminals and key rail and road infrastructure upgrades designed to meet the growing needs of the region.
The delivery of key infrastructure in Western Sydney will lead to housing, employment and continued investment in services.
Quite simply, we need a more balanced and equitable Sydney, not simply tarmac in a cow paddock.
I remain committed to fighting for the Western Sydney region and open to constructive conversations about infrastructure and investment in our region.
Fiona Scott MP is the federal Member for Lindsay, and represents Penrith, St Marys, Glenmore Park, Cranebrook, Colyton and Mulgoa residents
Source: The Daily Telegraphy by Fiona Scott MP. Original article.