News that the University of Wollongong will establish a campus in Western Sydney has been welcomed by Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson.

Clearly the University of Wollongong understands the power of Western Sydney’s demographic changes.

Ms Watson raised the importance of Western Sydney to the Illawarra’s economic future during a speech in the State Parliament on 10 and 17 September 2015:

There is another substantial region that I think we in the Illawarra have collectively neglected for too long…. Western Sydney is right in our backyard—in fact, just over the magnificent Illawarra escarpment. It happens to be the third largest regional economy in Australia, producing nearly $100 million in economic output every year. Western Sydney is home to two million people. More than 150 of Australia’s top 500 companies are located in Western Sydney. There are more than 160 small and medium enterprises in the region. Nearly 9,000 manufacturing businesses are located in Western Sydney.

When I spoke last time, I was outlining how important Western Sydney’s economy could be to the Illawarra region. I made the point that Western Sydney is the third largest economy in Australia after the Sydney and Melbourne central business districts [CBDs]. Over the next decade, the Western Sydney region will also be home to an international airport. It is forecast that up to 30,000 jobs could be located at this airport alone and that by 2050 economic activity could be increased by $9 billion. The region is a major contributor to exports and imports.

It is long overdue that the political, business and community stakeholders of the Illawarra consider the enormous potential of the Western Sydney economy. We need to partner with it and leverage it to our mutual advantage. This means linking our region directly to Western Sydney by completing the Maldon to Dombarton rail freight link. Western Sydney does not have its own port, but we do. The Port of Kembla is a regional asset and it can become the port of choice for Western Sydney. It also means upgrading Picton Road to dual carriage status. It means serious engagement with investors, which was one of the key points that Labor introduced in its 10-point plan to secure jobs for the Illawarra on 4 September. The complacency that has beset the Illawarra and its continued focus on just linking up with the Sydney CBD must change. It is time to broaden our regional economic outlook to include Western Sydney.

2 May 2016