Last week the Prime Minister announced the signing of the MOU for the Western Sydney City Deal with the NSW Government, but in doing so has left local councils out of the equation.
This goes against the grain of what a City Deal is supposed to achieve.
City Deals provide an opportunity for governments, in particular local governments, to work together and encourage the economic growth of a region.
It is therefore extraordinary that the following exchange occurred in Senate Estimates only days prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement:
Senator McALLISTER: Are the local councils engaged yet?
Dr Kennedy: To date there has been very little engagement by Prime Minister and Cabinet with local councils in the Western Sydney case, because we have been settling the approach with the New South Wales government in the first instance.
Senator McALLISTER: When you say ‘very little’, do you mean none?
Dr Kennedy: I mean none.
It is clear that the Government’s so-called “City Deals” in Townsville and Launceston are simply an attempt to dress up belated matching of ALP commitments to the Townsville Stadium and University of Tasmania.
In Western Sydney the Government has failed to actually consult local communities about these issues and is trying to retrofit an election announcement with substance that does not exist.
If the Government wanted to do something practical it would be to commit to supporting an expansion of rail services in Western Sydney including through Badgerys Creek and the associated employment lands.