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Address to CEDA Western Sydney Growth Series

Parramatta NSW

20 April 2017

20 April 2017

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I’m delighted to be here for CEDA’s first Western Sydney Growth Series event of 2017.

I’ve been invited in my capacity as the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, and also as the federal MP for the Western Sydney seat of Reid.

But beneath my political hats, I’m first and foremost a Western Sydney publican.

My grandparents started the family business with a small pub in Rozelle back in 1949.

It was a time when people were celebrating the end of the war.

A time when migrants from across Europe were coming here to make a new life.

And a time when property prices were rising—a building site in Belmore sold for £170, a cottage in Westmead for £1,150, and an industrial site in Pyrmont made headlines at £4,850![i]

Most of all, it was a time when Sydneysiders saw the West as just a faraway outpost.

I’m sure Warragamba Dam was considered the end of the earth when construction began in 1946!

Yet today, it’s just a 20 minute drive from the new Sydney Science Park at Luddenham—and I’ll speak about that exciting development shortly.

I’ve spent my whole working life in the West—first as a publican and now as a politician.

And I can tell you the region’s transformation has been spectacular even in that time.

Today, Western Sydney is the 3rd largest economy in Australia, accounting for 6.1 per cent of GDP.

We have almost 150,000 businesses and more than one million workers, and we’re home to one in every ten Australians.

But Western Sydney has reached this point in a sprawling, ad hoc way.

We’ve relied on individual endeavour and a degree of luck rather than careful planning.

Services and infrastructure have often been afterthoughts, lagging behind population growth.

Western Sydney’s population is set to grow by one million people over the next 20 years.[ii]

So imagine what could be achieved with a cohesive, long-term plan for growth!

Today, I will speak about the Turnbull Government’s plan for Western Sydney.

A plan to create jobs through innovation so more people can work close to home.

A plan to make life easier for businesses so they can grow and succeed.

And a plan that will see better infrastructure built so people can get around easily.

Before turning to these points however, I want to emphasise that we’re not just hoping that discrete policies or programs will propel Western Sydney forward.

We’ve put in place whole-of-government initiatives like the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the National Business Simplification Initiative and our Free Trade Agreements.

We’ve complemented these with regional programs like the Western Sydney City Deal, Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, and Western Sydney Airport.

And we’re working closely with the State Government and local councils so that what we’re doing fits together, and contributes to this region’s growth.

Creating Jobs Through Innovation

Each day, 300,000 people leave and 100,000 people arrive in Western Sydney for work.[iii]

This means that Western Sydney has a jobs deficit of 200,000.[iv]

This is forecast to increase to 340,000 by 2041 as the West absorbs much of the expected increase in Sydney’s population.[v]

This will put a massive strain on infrastructure, lead to longer commutes, and make it harder for people who need to work locally to find jobs.

As a recent Deloitte report into Western Sydney has said, “the solution is to address the fundamental imbalance in Sydney’s jobs market by creating more great jobs at sufficient density in Western Sydney.”[vi]

Innovation will drive jobs growth and I want Western Sydney to be Australia’s innovation capital.

Earlier this year, I attended the launch of an exciting new project—the CSIRO Urban Living Lab at the Sydney Science Park in Luddenham.

Sydney Science Park has been built by Western Sydney property developer Celestino, and will be home to over 10,000 residents, creating more than 12,000 knowledge-based jobs.

CSIRO’s project will see the entire community become a “living lab” in which innovators can develop and test their products.

Just like you might test medical technology in a lab, you can now test urban development concepts on the homes, businesses, shops, roads and parks of Sydney Science Park.

It’s like growing a suburb in a test tube and will see researchers, industry and government come together to create and test ideas in the real world.

Fostering collaboration is a key goal of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and this is a great practical example in Western Sydney.

Some of the ideas already floated include developing different types of energy and smart water systems to respond to climate and population changes.

Successful ideas can potentially be applied outside Sydney Science Park, helping not only to create jobs but also to build more sustainable cities.

There are countless other examples of innovation fuelling jobs growth in Western Sydney.

One that I’m immensely proud of is our health and education expertise.

Our five world-class precincts at Westmead, Penrith, Blacktown, Liverpool and Campbelltown provide 37,000 jobs in health and education, and 10,000 more in related services—or 7.5 per cent of all jobs in the West.[vii]

Westmead is one of the world’s largest health and education precincts and has the potential to become a “Silicon Valley of health innovation”.[viii]

A National Particle Therapy and Research Centre is one of the most exciting possibilities for the Westmead precinct.

Countries like Japan, Italy, Germany, and Austria are using carbon ion particle therapy to treat cancer patients, and Western Sydney has an opportunity to lead Australia in this field.

In fact just two weeks ago I was in Germany for the G20 Digital Ministers meeting. While over there I also had the opportunity to visit the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center already using this therapy and see this amazing technology first hand.

These developments truly are at the cutting edge of the medical physics space, and I am pleased that the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation is assisting Westmead in developing its proposal to deliver this breakthrough cancer treatment capability.

Of course I couldn’t talk about jobs in Western Sydney without mentioning manufacturing which provides 95,000 jobs and is the biggest employer.

There’s often a lot of doom and gloom about the future of manufacturing, but the sector has actually expanded in each of the last six months.[ix]

In fact in Western Sydney it’s grown by almost 13 per cent over the past 12 months.[x]

As a nation, more people are realising we can integrate into global supply chains and produce innovative, value-added products for growing international markets.

I’m optimistic that Western Sydney businesses will continue to embrace this opportunity.

As one example, I went with the Prime Minister to visit Røde Microphones’ manufacturing plant in Silverwater earlier this year.

Røde is a quintessential Australian success story, and flies in the face of people who claim that manufacturing is dead in this country.

It began as a single shop in Ashfield but now exports its products to more than 100 countries around the world.

And it’s creating jobs in Western Sydney, employing 70 more people at Silverwater in just the last year.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time today to talk about the many other growth industries in Western Sydney like agribusiness, tourism and professional services.

But I can assure you the Government is committed to fostering the innovation culture that generates jobs for people across Western Sydney.

Making Life Easier For Businesses

The Turnbull Government wants to make life easier for businesses in Western Sydney.

I began learning how to be business-minded from a young age.

I remember driving around as a kid with my Dad on the bench seat of a Dodge truck moving kegs between pubs on Saturdays to save money.

And while watching rugby league on Sundays—we supported the Western Suburbs Magpies back then—we’d re-roll the till rolls from the previous week so we could use the blank side and halve the cost.

One of my frustrations as a business owner when I was older was that politicians and bureaucrats didn’t understand the pressures that businesses face.

While they might’ve thought something was a good idea in their office blocks, they rarely understood how much it would add to the costs of businesses around the country.

So what I’ve been trying to do since becoming a politician is to bring business thinking and business principles to government.

Building off that, I’m pleased that the Prime Minister has put me in charge of the National Business Simplification Initiative, with the support of Angus Taylor, the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, and Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.

Part of this initiative is an agreement we’ve struck with state and territory governments to reduce the complexity of regulation for businesses and make it easier for them to deal with government.

We’re already working with the New South Wales government on a project to reduce how much time it takes to set up a café, restaurant, or small bar in the Parramatta area.

Most people would be astounded that, in New South Wales, it takes up to 18 months to open a café and involves completing up to 48 forms and complying with up to 75 regulations. The state government has implemented a range of measures to reduce the set up time for businesses from 18 months to three months.

My department is working with Service NSW to link our new simplified business registration service.

This means that businesses will get a seamless experience of government. There will be no wrong door.

If the Parramatta project is successful, we’ll look to roll it out in other regions and sectors.

There are thousands of small businesses in Western Sydney, and we also want to give them the opportunity to grow by selling their services to government.

I’m delighted that small businesses won a third of Australian Government contracts last financial year—that’s almost 23,000 government contracts worth a total of $5.5 billion.[xi]

Minister Angus Taylor recently launched a Digital Marketplace to make it even easier for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tender for the more than $6 billion the Government spends on ICT and digital services each year.

This is complemented by the Business Research and Innovation Initiative which encourages SMEs to develop innovative solutions for government policy and service delivery challenges.

The initiative links entrepreneurs into our procurement process, providing funding to create new products, while they retain their intellectual property and the right to commercialise their innovation.

Canterbury-based business MicroPace was recently awarded a grant of more than $94,000 to work on a solution to a challenge faced by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

MicroPace is an expert in commercialising medical devices and will work closely with CSIRO to develop a quick, simple, and low-cost method to test pesticides in aircraft.

We’ve also made it easier for Western Sydney businesses to tap into lucrative Asian markets through our free trade agreements with China, Korea, and Japan.

For example, Ensitech manufactures stainless steel cleaning technology at a factory in Emu Plains.

The company has reported an enormous increase in enquiries since the FTAs were signed.

Its CEO, Clive White, has said the FTAs have “opened Asia’s eyes to the fact that Australia is able to do business with them”.[xii]

I’ve also told the story a few times of a young man I met on a recent street walk in my electorate, who off the back of the ChAFTA announcement decided to duck into his local butcher and ask if he’d be interested in exporting meat to a province in China, where he has some family.

From that simple enquiry, they are now exporting to Henan and Guangdong provinces and the city of Tianjin, and are in the process of establishing a factory to handle the amount of product they are shipping.

This is a great example of an entrepreneurial, 2nd generation Australian leveraging his overseas family ties to gain a foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

A recent report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies described Australia’s Asian business diasporas as a rich source of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurialism.[xiii]

But these examples aren’t just limited to Asia.

The amazingly multicultural community in Western Sydney, with their strong family connections and wealth of knowledge about the business culture in foreign markets is a huge opportunity for Australian trade.

We should use this community resource to deepen business links with economies around the world, including India which the Prime Minister visited earlier this month.

We’re also working to deliver trade agreements with key partners like Indonesia, the European Union and under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Along with simpler regulations and fairer procurement, closer overseas business ties are making it easier for businesses in Western Sydney and across Australia to grow and succeed.

Building Better Infrastructure

I said at the outset that governments have usually only thought about infrastructure after population growth in Western Sydney.

What we want to do now is plan ahead.

So we’re working with the State Government to deliver infrastructure that will create jobs, reduce commute times, and support economic growth.

The new Western Sydney Airport is at the heart of our plan.

This will be the first new international airport built in Australia in more than half a century.

It will ensure Sydney’s future aviation needs are met.

It will offer convenient new travel options for people in Western Sydney.

And it will create jobs both onsite and in the surrounding region.

During the construction phase, the airport is expected to generate over 11,000 jobs.

And once operational, it will create over 20,000 jobs, with most to be held by locals.

The Minister for Urban Infrastructure, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, spoke about the benefits of the Western Sydney Airport at a CEDA Western Sydney Growth Series event last November.

He emphasised the opportunity we have to create an ‘aerotropolis’, which refers to the cluster of economic activity centred on an airport.

We want the airport to attract economic activity in surrounding regions like business precincts, economic clusters in other sectors, and universities.

This will be a source of economic growth not only for Western Sydney but for Australia.

In fact, independent research by Infrastructure Australia estimates the airport will deliver over $11 billion in benefits to the Australian economy.[xiv]

I’m pleased that construction is set to begin by late 2018, meaning the airport will be ready to take its first passengers by the mid-2020s.

We’re working with the New South Wales Government on a $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan to ensure major transport links are in place before the airport is operational.

This will see us capitalise on the economic benefits of developing the airport while boosting the economy and liveability of Western Sydney.

We’re providing 80 per cent of the funding with the rest coming from the state government.

Work is already underway to upgrade The Northern Road, generating over $30 million in contracts for Western Sydney suppliers and contractors.[xv]

We also expect to complete the upgrade of Bringelly Road by 2020.

And we are planning to build a new east-west motorway to provide access to Western Sydney Airport.

This new M12 will run from the M7 and be ready in time for the opening of the airport.

We’ve also invested $26 million to develop a concept design for rail access at the airport site, and we’re working with the state government to preserve a rail corridor for future use.

I should also mention that we’ve committed $1.5 billion to the WestConnex project which will link Western Sydney to the Sydney CBD, Kingsford Smith Airport, and port precincts.

This is one of Australia’s largest road projects, and I’m pleased that construction has begun on the first two of the project’s three stages.

As the Prime Minister has said, we are “build[ing] the arteries of this great Western Sydney city”.[xvi]

These projects are creating thousands of local jobs—WestConnex alone will create up to 10,000 jobs including hundreds of apprenticeships during construction.

And they will ease traffic congestion, and make it easier for Western Sydney residents to access employment opportunities across Sydney.

These investments form the underlying foundation on which the Western Sydney City Deal is built, but the city deal goes beyond the new airport and roads, working with local councils to re-invigorate and revitalise the city centres of these eight local government areas.

The City Deal will be the first agreement of its kind in New South Wales, and the single largest planning, investment, and delivery partnership in Australia’s history.

It will maximise the economic impact of the new airport and other infrastructure investments, and increase job opportunities, housing affordability and liveability across the region.

The Prime Minister believes that to have a stronger country we need to have stronger cities – and that is what the Turnbull Government is delivering.

The City Deal is a coordinated plan for jobs, housing, transport and the environment in Western Sydney, and it represents a significant change in how we work with state and local governments on cities investment.

As former Premier Mike Baird has said, it replaces the previous approach of the federal government investing in infrastructure in a piecemeal fashion with a “much more strategic framework”.[xvii]

I look forward to the City Deal being agreed to by the second half of 2017.

Another important infrastructure project is the Moorebank Intermodal Company.

This is another great project that will deliver a host of benefits, not just for Western Sydney, but for the city as a whole.

It will comprise a full suite of intermodal facilities able to handle 250,000 import-export containers a year from late this year/early next year, and ultimately just over one million import-export containers a year by around 2030.

In addition, the interstate terminal is expected to be dealing with around 250,000 interstate containers a year from around 2019 rising to 500,000 interstate containers a year by 2030.

The precinct is likely to deliver around seven thousand jobs, estimated economic benefits of around $9 billion, and will include up to 850,000 square metres of warehousing to break down containers for delivery.

Among the other benefits are an estimated 40,000 tonnes cut to greenhouse gas emissions a year, and reduced pressures on Sydney’s road network.

This project improves linkages between East and West, while also removing some of the blockages in “older” Sydney.

I particularly like this project as it exemplifies this link - between East and West, old and new. This state of the art, heavily automated advanced warehouse facility in Western Sydney, connects to Port Botany, one of the earliest points of European landfall in this country way back in 1770.

It’s an important point to remember – that these initiatives are not stand alone.

This is not about creating an economic island in Western Sydney successful in itself, but an integrated and thriving metropolis with the jobs and services for future generations.


To return to where I started, Western Sydney is very different to when my grandparents opened their first pub in 1960.

But the entrepreneurial spirit of the post-war years continues to run through the veins of the people of Western Sydney. Individual endeavour is just as important as it was 60 years ago.

I firmly believe our success has also come from embracing people from around the world.

Following World War II, we welcomed large numbers of Europeans seeking a new life.

And today, more than a third of Western Sydney’s population was born overseas[xviii], making us an exemplar of multiculturalism in the most successful multicultural country on earth!

And while that is something to be proud of alone, it also places Western Sydney in a prime position to take advantage of the Government’s free trade agenda and an increasingly globalised world as I mentioned earlier.

Why am I so bullish on where Western Sydney is headed?

Because historically, we’ve always grown in an ad hoc way, but we will achieve so much more with a sound plan.

That’s why we’re so focused on creating jobs through innovation.

It’s why we’re making it easier for our businesses to grow and succeed.

And it’s why we’re investing in the single largest pipeline of infrastructure in Australia under the Western Sydney City Deal.

We’re working collaboratively across three levels of Government to create the most comprehensive plan for growth in Western Sydney’s history.

It will improve the lives of millions of people who live in Western Sydney.

And it will turn the region into an economic powerhouse driving growth in Greater Sydney and Australia for generations to come.

[x] Office of the Chief Economist.