People, places and potential: Western Sydney putting Australia in the box seat
Keynote Address: The Daily Telegraph's Future Western Sydney 2022
Delivered by Jennifer Westacott AO, Chair of the Western Parkland City Authority.
Thank you, Ben.
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we are meeting on today – the Darug people.
I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Western Parkland City, which is the subject of my speech.
I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
I acknowledge their wisdom and their heritage as the oldest continuous culture on the planet.
I acknowledge that the locations I’m talking about today are their traditional gathering places for trade and for communities to come together.
We will build on this and give them a voice in everything we do at the Parkland City.
I am committed to a compact and a relationship where:
- we share and nurture wisdom
- where we correct the failings of the past, and
- where we unashamedly commit to creating wealth and prosperity for Indigenous Australians through new opportunities.
I’m delighted to be here today to talk about those opportunities at The Daily Telegraph’s Future Western Sydney 2022 event.
I’m delighted to be joined by Stuart Ayres today, a son of Western Sydney and Western Sydney’s greatest advocate.
So much of what I am talking about today is his vision.
It’s great to be joined by the CEO of the Authority, Dr Sarah Hill, and I thank her for her great service to the people of Western Sydney.
I'm going to talk to you about the places of the Western Parkland City which takes in the eight local government areas from the Blue Mountains to Fairfield and from Wollondilly to the Hawkesbury.
In particular, I will discuss the two key precincts that will surround the new Western Sydney International Airport at Badgerys Creek:
- the Bradfield City Centre, and
- the agribusiness precinct.
These two areas will unleash new industries, new jobs and a new era of prosperity.
They form part of what is called the Aerotropolis.
The actions and plans I outline today are about opportunity.
They are about hope and they are about optimism:
- for the people of the Parkland City
- for the people of New South Wales
- indeed, for all Australians.
My story begins with decisions.
A set of decisions that will improve the lives of the people in Western Sydney and set Australia up for success.
Good government matters.
Timely decision-making matters.
Like the decision to build Western Sydney’s first airport.
Not a budget airport, but what will be Australia’s biggest airport.
- An unconstrained
- 24/7 airport that is digitally enabled.
And hopefully we will have the foresight to construct the second runway soon.
But the decision by the federal government to fund the construction of the airport means it’s getting done.
It’s not being talked about.
Then there’s the critical decision not to give away the land around the airport for more housing and urban sprawl.
Instead, a decision to reverse a 200-year trend in Sydney of putting in housing before jobs and infrastructure …
by building a 22nd Century City which will be the Indo-Pacific’s magnet for:
- new advanced industries
- new investment, and
- high skilled jobs.
Jobs, industry and infrastructure provided before people move in – not 20 years later.
The decision to have a city deal between all three levels of government, underpinned by more than 20 billion dollars of investment in roads and rail.
Part of that is the 11-billion-dollar commitment to build the metro rail project which links St Marys to the airport and the airport to the Bradfield City Centre.
We are building the veins – the lifeblood – that will carry people, goods and services efficiently around the country and across Western Sydney.
Then the decision to activate Bradfield with an injection of over one-billion-dollars for enabling works such as roads, rail, water and utilities.
And the decision to build the first building which will be home to some of the world’s leading companies and ideas.
The decision to bring the universities of NSW, Western Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong together in a unique new alliance to deliver the skills and research that will attract these new industries.
The decision to make Australia’s world-leading science organisation, the CSIRO the anchor tenant at Bradfield.
The cumulative impact of these actions is nothing short of the truly visionary decision to build the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
What I am talking about today shows that Western Sydney will be the vehicle where we once again reimagine the nation’s future.
These decisions are not about dollars.
They are about leadership from both sides of politics and at all levels of government.
They are about the grit and determination to stare down the people who do not live in Western Sydney but constantly object to these projects.
It’s about staring down the naysayers who said these things would never happen.
It’s about the leadership of this newspaper which – year after year – has been Western Sydney’s most vocal champion and the airport’s strongest advocate.
This is the media at its best.
Without leadership and without vision we are nowhere as a country.
Like the leadership and vision of John Bradfield, and it fills me with pride that we propose to name the new city next to the airport in his honour.
A man ahead of his time, he had the drive and foresight to build a bridge for a new century.
A bridge that celebrates its 90th birthday this weekend.
A bridge that brought a city together.
A bridge that stands:
- as a testament to forward thinking
- an icon of engineering brilliance, and one that
- leaves a majestic legacy.
Now before I talk about our vision for new industries and new jobs, let me make sure we are all on the same page in terms of geography.
Here is a map that shows:
- Western Sydney, which includes where we are today
- It shows the Western Parkland City which includes the Aerotropolis
- And within the Aerotropolis, we have:
- the Bradfield City Centre, and
- the Agribusiness precinct
The reason we believe we can achieve our vision is because of what is happening across this whole area, not just these two precincts.
The decision to put the airport and a 22nd Century City here were not decisions just plucked out of the air.
They are part of a deliberate vision to build on what already exists.
Western Sydney is the nation’s third largest economy.
It’s home to one of the most multicultural and diverse communities in the world.
The Parkland City is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and is expected to be home to 2 million people by 2056 – that’s the size of five Canberras.
It’s home to incredibly educated and skilled people.
It’s home to great educational institutions.
Thriving small businesses.
There are at least 75,000 manufacturing jobs in Western Sydney but tragically 80 per cent of those manufacturers do not export.
A problem we must solve.
It’s got great food and great culture.
It’s made up of places with enormous potential like:
- Campbelltown with its growing justice precinct and its world class cancer centre
- Liverpool with its magnificent health facilities and transport connections
- Penrith, home to the future science park and the first STEM school
- the Blue Mountains, which is the centre of tourism activity
- the Hawkesbury, Wollondilly and Camden, the centre of agribusiness, market gardens and defence, and
- Fairfield, with its rich history and diversity.
Hand in glove with local governments, communities and landholders – the Western Parkland City Authority, which I chair – will build on the huge momentum of these places.
The creation of the authority – in and of itself – is a crucial decision which will overcome the historical problems of piecemeal decision-making by:
- coordinating the infrastructure to power up these economies
- attracting investment – both public and private
- driving the creation of new industries and new jobs at scale
- driving world class urban renewal, and
- creating access to those new jobs by delivering education and training differently.
My principal job – and my moral responsibility – is to correct what I call the great unfairness towards the communities of Western Sydney and to unleash the potential that I know – and they know – exists.
I know Stuart Ayres, the Premier and his Government share this vision.
It guides everything we do.
So what do I mean by the great unfairness and the great opportunity?
Well, the first is infrastructure and the second is attitude.
If I go to infrastructure, look at this map.
This is a map of what’s called the central city and the Parkland City
It’s full of red lines.
Those lines represent roads, rail, water and utilities.
Trillions of dollars of investment.
Imagine how many red lines there are in the eastern city.
It would be covered in red lines.
Notwithstanding that much of the Parkland City is yet to be developed – the government decisions I’ve just spoken about are designed to reverse decades of historic infrastructure delays.
Lags that have failed to lay the foundations to realise the potential that I’m talking about today.
The decisions taken by the Berejiklian, Perrottet and federal governments have crossed that bridge.
We are now in a different place.
But that malaise and delay has had a real impact on people’s lives.
People from Western Sydney are $15,000 a year worse off than their colleagues in the eastern city.
For every 100 jobs in Greater Sydney – 40 of those are in the eastern city and just 15 are in the Parkland City.
This forces people in Western Sydney into long commutes – robbing them of time with their families.
It takes people in Western Sydney almost twice as long to get to their jobs than it does for people living in the eastern city.
This is a great unfairness.
But the irony of the great unfairness is that it will turn into the great competitive advantage.
Because those red lines on the map I am pointing to are often in the wrong place and are often ill-conceived.
In the Parkland City, we can avoid the incrementalism that has driven Sydney’s 200-plus years of development.
And that incrementalism has meant that:
- things have ended up in the wrong place
- people are left scratching their heads about decisions, and
- in some cases – we have been left with infrastructure that simply doesn’t do the job or comes too late.
We have the opportunity to do things better – to do things properly.
The first way to do this is to make sure that people are getting their fair share.
By 2036 – that’s just 14 years away – the Parkland City will make up more than a quarter of the state’s entire population growth.
So, our blueprint – endorsed by the NSW government – argues that the people of the Parkland City should be getting between 15 and 30 per cent of all new infrastructure spending.
And as Stuart Ayres says in his foreword to the blueprint – that could be between 60 to 120 billion dollars over the next 15 years.
Now let me talk about the second aspect of the great unfairness which is attitudinal.
It’s the out-there syndrome.
Well today I am drawing a line under it.
I am binning that expression.
Western Sydney is not out there.
It’s here. It’s now.
When I get on video calls to Japan to talk about the Parkland City, there are 700 companies on the line.
Some of the world’s biggest companies dial in.
And they get on those calls because they know there is nowhere else in the world that has:
- the land
- the transport connections
- the skills, and
- the technologies that will allow their companies to expand and grow.
And they know they will be located on the doorstep of the biggest market in the world’s history – the Asian middle class which will be made up of 3.5 billion people by the end of this decade.
But while people on the other side of the world can see this once in a generation opportunity – many on the other side of the city still cannot.
We have to end the snobbery, arrogance and self-interest of people who do not live in Western Sydney but somehow think it’s OK to block every single project that will create better lives.
Today is the day when we have to stop the denial of opportunity for people in the Parkland City.
Today is the day when we put the Parkland City and Western Sydney at the centre of economic activity in Australia.
The agribusiness precinct
The first way is through places like the agribusiness precinct and the Bradfield City Centre.
The agribusiness precinct will be more than 1500 hectares – almost 2 and a half times larger than the Sydney Olympic Park precinct, where the Royal Easter Show is held each year.
Put another way, it’s around 36 Flemington Markets.
Right now these sites are blank canvases, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to turn paddocks into fields of dreams.
This will be private sector led so we will be working with industry.
Our vision is to support the creation of a 24/7 hub of activity including state-of-the-art logistics facilities.
Here high-quality and fresh produce will arrive from across the state.
Facilities will include cold storage and end stage ripening
Customs and biosecurity clearances will be on site with X-rays and irradiation.
The state’s best produce will then be moved across to the nearby airport via a dedicated road and digital connections and onto planes for export as quickly as possible.
Remember that 80 per cent of freight goes out in a passenger plane.
The speed and efficiency that will exist is currently unheard of – and it’s key to making the precinct a magnet for all of the state’s time sensitive air freight industries.
Australian milk can be flown straight into Singapore and Malaysia at any time of the day because the airport is curfew free and our logistics will be around the clock.
It sells overseas for an extra 1.20 dollar a litre.
Milk and other produce can get onto the shelves faster and stay fresh.
It’s the same story for fresh meat with grass-fed angus rib eye selling for 96 dollars a kilo in Singapore and Wagyu for 350 dollars a kilo in Shanghai.
Blockchain and tracking technology will reduce the risk of counterfeiting and substitution at the other end.
This protects Australia’s reputation for high quality produce and products.
Asia’s appetite for our premium agricultural products will be insatiable.
Last year alone, exports to key Asian markets were valued at around 25 billion dollars – and that was during COVID.
So, what does all this mean for people?
It means jobs.
It means better paid jobs.
It means jobs closer to home.
For the state’s great producers from Bathurst to Parkes and around Sydney, they will have quick, headache free and dependable access to these growing markets via the agribusiness precinct.
It will change the economics of how they run their businesses.
So, they can start thinking about:
- upgrading their equipment, and
- importantly, hiring more workers.
A young person suddenly has new work opportunities.
Not a part-time job – a real career in agriculture.
Start-ups that run blockchain systems will set up close by.
Freight and logistics companies will have more to do.
So they will:
- put on more trucks
- get new equipment
- hire more drivers, and
- employ an extra person in the office to manage the bookings.
Distribution centres, which employ lots of people, will expand or re-locate to Western Sydney.
This keeps towns and villages across NSW and Western Sydney thriving.
We want to preserve the tradition of Western Sydney as a food bowl but take it into the next century.
And, of course, preserving our prime agricultural lands means we preserve our green landscapes.
We want this to be a Parkland City.
But a Parkland City can also be very:
- profitable, and
Bradfield City Centre
Now let me turn to the Bradfield City Centre, the heart of the aerotropolis
At 115 hectares, the Bradfield City Centre will be the size of almost 30 CommBank Stadiums here in Parramatta.
I want to talk first about what will happen here because it’s so central to securing Australia’s economic future.
And it demonstrates what I spoke about earlier – reversing Sydney’s history of urban development first and then sorting out where the jobs and industries go later.
So what type of industries am I talking about?
Bradfield will be focused on advanced manufacturing.
Advanced manufacturing is about applying new production processes and techniques to make existing and emerging products that are:
- smarter, and
- more versatile.
Advanced manufacturing is a lot of little things coming together with skilled people applying the most advanced technologies.
And it’s the way that more and more things will be produced in the future.
Forget end to end production and cheap offshore labour – no one makes a whole car from bonnet to boot in one country anymore.
This gives us a great opportunity to leverage Western Sydney’s existing advanced manufacturing industries.
We want to build on that at Bradfield, focusing on the specialised activities, services, parts and value-added products that sell for very high prices.
So what are we proposing to do?
We want to apply these new technologies to the super industries of defence, space and aerospace.
We are not going to build fighter planes, weld submarines or launch rockets.
But what we want to do – is make the things that make those things work, particularly the electronics.
And that’s about semiconductors and printed circuit boards.
These things are not just important to create jobs – they are essential for our country’s security.
Let me explain.
Semiconductors power everything around us, from iPhones in our pockets to satellites in space.
Right now they are overwhelmingly made in Taiwan, South Korea, China and America.
With a huge proportion of them made in Taiwan – what could possibly go wrong?
We are not going to compete with Taiwan.
We won’t be mass-producing semiconductor chips.
But we are going to make the high-end and secure semiconductor devices that the defence industry will demand if they want to manufacture anything in Australia.
If I turn to printed circuit boards, these are at the heart of most electronics.
They support and connect components like computer chips, similar to the way the human body supports the brain.
They are crucial in areas such as satellite and aircraft communications, radar and navigation systems.
So in defence, space and aerospace, we’ll be able to make:
- the electronics for missile guidance systems
- the electronics for high security communications, and
- the control systems that keep satellites in orbit and control autonomous equipment.
Defence, space, aerospace and many other industries are all going to be using quantum technologies – quantum sensing, quantum communications and ultimately quantum computing.
And we want Bradfield to be at the forefront of this.
Here in Australia we already have the leading quantum scientists in the world.
We will also be designing the cyber systems and the cyber technologies at Bradfield that are essential for the defence and space industries.
When it comes to the new era of satellites, we will aim to make the navigation systems that could go into Elon Musk’s thousands of satellites.
And we should shoot for the stars by manufacturing small satellites as well as the parts.
To bring all of this together, the Australian Space Agency will partner with us to develop our point of difference.
And apart from defence, space and aerospace – we will be opening up other frontiers in the super high-tech world of advanced manufacturing.
Everything people will do will be about 3D printing and using composite materials which make lighter and more durable products.
Did you know – that for every kilo of weight you remove from a plane, you save one million litres of fuel over its lifetime.
How’s that for a return on investment?
We want Bradfield to be a global centre of excellence in composite materials and 3D printing, which extends to applications like making medical devices.
We want it to be home to robotics that will be used in every part of advanced manufacturing.
And home to pharmaceutical production
Now take a step back, what does this all mean?
Well, if we don’t make Bradfield a centre of advanced manufacturing, our country will be out of the manufacturing race.
We will increasingly have to rely on overseas supplies of critical parts, components and services.
That’s the downside.
The opportunities though are enormous.
There are huge dividends from being at the cutting edge of the industries I have just talked about – defence, space, and aerospace.
Let’s just take the global space economy.
It is worth about 370 billion US dollars and in two decades it will almost triple.
The global defence industry is worth 617 billion US dollars every year.
Australia plans to spend $575 billion on defence over the next decade.
Billions will be spent on the electronics alone for the:
- fighters, and
- air and missile defence systems
So what does all this mean?
It means thousands and thousands of jobs.
It means better paid jobs.
It means jobs closer to home.
The AMRF and NETM
So, how are we going to support the development of these future industries?
We are going to do it in three ways:
- through a new jobs and industry accelerator
- through training and skilling people differently, and
- by driving global and local companies into Australia and into the Parkland City.
The jobs and industry accelerator is going to be called an Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility.
It’s a building housing advanced equipment where people can come and try out new ideas and take risks.
It will have a team of world class experts on-site bringing people together.
We will have the CSIRO, universities, big companies and small companies working together to design and prototype – in other words to prove up the things I talked about this morning.
This will be a first for Australia. It will be a first for the world.
The second thing we have to do is skill up Australians to do these jobs.
I have spent my whole life fighting against the tyranny of universities versus TAFE and VET.
I say this as someone from a housing commission estate who went to university, who's on the board of a university, and who has an honorary doctorate from a university.
I’m the last person who is going to run down universities.
But at the moment many people think that only a university degree is worthwhile.
That's just wrong.
And it’s not what employers want.
They want people with particular skills and particular capabilities.
They don’t care if it comes from a TAFE or a university – they want them blended together.
They want a package of things that makes sure someone can do the job they need them to do.
So at Bradfield, we’ll be doing a series of what they call micro credentials or short subjects that can be stacked in a way to create a qualification.
People will be working and they’ll be doing some modules from TAFE and some modules from university.
Germany – still a powerhouse of manufacturing – does education in this way.
The last time I visited Germany, I went to the BMW factory in Munich.
Using that kind of education model, the Germans are still leading in car manufacturing and employing 7000 people on one site alone.
Here at Bradfield, our first micro-credential is underway – a partnership between GE Additive and Western Sydney University, training people to do 3D printing.
Twenty-five micro credentials – all in these specialised areas I’ve talked about today – will roll out this year.
And the final thing, we will be doing to create these new industries is to drive investment attraction.
Our job will be to take those ideas and encourage companies to set up their entire manufacturing facility in the Parkland City – that’s thousands of jobs.
And we will be doing that by offering them incentives such as the NSW Government’s JobPlus package which provides payroll tax incentives.
We’ll provide concierge support to help companies establish their operations in the Parkland City.
And of course we will be marrying them up with other companies and marrying up their skills requirements.
And make no mistake, the biggest companies in the world have already put their name down to be part of this:
- DB Schenker
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
- Samsung, and
- BAE Systems to name a few.
What will it look like?
Now let me give you a sense of what the Bradfield City will look like.
This will be hugely important to companies.
If you are in the defence, space and aerospace industries, people want to know they are in an area where they have the world’s best cyber security and the best digital plumbing as people call it.
They want to be close to universities, scientists and engineers.
And that’s why we are proposing to lay the city out in quarters.
People who live and work here can be with like-minded people.
There will be:
- a National Security Quarter focused on defence, space and aviation.
- an Education and Innovation Quarter
- a Lifestyle and Leisure Quarter with hotels retail and tourism, and
- finally a Neighbourhood Quarter with different types of housing that will suit everyone.
Of course, there will be restaurants, theatre, cultural activities and sporting facilities because people want to live in a place that is beautiful.
And what does it all mean?
It means jobs.
It means high skilled jobs.
It means jobs closer to home.
So what will be special about Bradfield?
- A city, not a business park
- The first hydrogen-enabled city, meaning it can be powered by clean energy sources
- It will have the capacity for some of the buildings to go off the grid and use renewable energy
- It will have electric vehicle charging stations
- It will have world-class child-care facilities built in from the beginning.
- It will be the most cyber-secure city in the Indo Pacific
- It will be designed for autonomous vehicles from the beginning – not trying to retrofit them, and
- It will have a multi utilities corridor so you don’t have to dig up a road if you need to upgrade cables.
It will have a park, tree canopies, waterways and a swimming area, because we know Western Sydney is a hot place.
But pictures tell a thousand words so why don’t I give you a quick tour?
But this isn’t about buildings, it’s about people.
This is about people choosing how and where they work.
This is about people in Western Sydney having access to the world’s best jobs.
It’s about jobs closer to home.
It’s about people being able to get the skills they need – like this young man here with the minister doing our first 3D printing training module.
It’s about families wanting to move to Bradfield because that’s where they and their kids will get better jobs.
That’s where they can have one of the best qualities of life in the world – using the cultural and recreational facilities which until now have almost been the exclusive domain of the east.
It’s about a young person wanting to work at the CSIRO.
Or at one of these great global companies I’ve talked about.
Or in one of the restaurants or theatres that will be in the new city
This is about a small business being able to expand, grow and employ more people.
This is about leapfrogging decisions on infrastructure into the 22nd Century – not another three decades of playing catch up.
This is fundamentally about hope and potential.
This is about communities being the best they can be.
A place where people are at their best.
Transforming their lives.
Thank you very much.