Media Release
Mega-region thinking the right way forward for NSW
04 December, 2018

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Matt Levinson

Today, the Committee for Sydney celebrated the announcement from the NSW Government on commissioning a twelve months study into regional economic development in NSW.

The Committee for Sydney stated that this has the potential to take pressure off a rapidly growing Sydney, while also boosting jobs and opportunities in regional areas. It also praised the government’s decision to appoint Professor Andrew McNaughton, a global expert on fast rail, to lead the study. Professor McNaughton visited Sydney as a guest of the Committee for Sydney in March 2018.

The announcement also follows calls from the Committee to establish fast rail links between Greater Sydney and Newcastle, Wollongong and the Central Coast in a report published in June this year on the ‘Sandstone Megaregion’. This report found that improved rail links could lead to an additional 40,000 housing dwellings been built and 10,000 new jobs being created in NSW regional centres.

The report also found that while high speed rail remains an option, there are many other options available to shorten rail journeys from Sydney to regional NSW to less than one hour.

Speaking today, Director of Policy, Eamon Waterford stated:

“Our research on regions around the world show that creating a link of an hour or less is the magic number because it makes it a reasonable commute. Whether this is done with high speed rail or improvements to existing tracks is beside the point”.

“Crucially, this doesn’t result in turning regional centres into ‘dormitory suburbs’ provided there is an economic strategy to make each centre economically complementary. With this announcement today, it’s clear that the NSW Government has taken the opportunity of an ‘economic mega-region’ stretching out from Sydney”.

“The Committee’s research shows that Newcastle to Wollongong through Western Sydney has the potential be a global economic powerhouse of 10million people, linked together by fast rail, world-class industries and major trade points. Today’s study marks the beginning of making this vision a reality”.

“Better connections between Greater Sydney and regional towns and cities in NSW could take pressure off a rapidly growing Sydney, whilst bringing benefits to the broader region. Introducing a network of one-hour or less heavy rail connections between cities within the mega-region will help to create new dwellings across the rail corridor will help to take pressure off the housing market in Sydney”.

“Our report forecasts that while many of the people moving due to improved rail access would continue to work in Sydney, some new residents would switch to local jobs and help generate increased local economic activity. Businesses would also gain agglomeration benefits from the improved access to Sydney. By 2036, there could be an additional 4,725 local jobs in Wollongong, 3,875 in Gosford and 3,225 in Newcastle because of improved rail access to Sydney”.  

“It’s a great coup for NSW to have the services of Professor Andrew McNaughton, a globally renowned expert on regional development and fast rail. We look forward to working with him and his team over the next twelve months”. 

Note to editors:

  1. The Committee for Sydney is an independent think tank and champion for the whole of Sydney, providing thought leadership beyond the electoral cycle. The Committee aims to enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that make Sydney a competitive, resilient and liveable global city. The Committee has a diverse membership with over 150 member organisations: including the major corporate sectors driving Sydney’s economy; strategically minded local authorities; key NSW Government departments and agencies; not- for-profit organisations; and leading arts and sporting institutions. Members help develop and deliver priorities, provide expertise and ensure a representative geographical spread across the greater Sydney region.
  2. In June 2018, the Committee for Sydney published The Sandstone Mega-region: Uniting Newcastle, The Central Coast, Sydney & Wollongong. The report was the culmination of a year-long Commission on the Newcastle-Gosford-Sydney-Wollongong mega-region, Chaired by Kyle Loades, former Chair of the NRMA and Professor Paul Wellings, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong as Vice-Chair. A further 40 public and private sector organisations were involved in the Commission.