Greg Warren says it’s true South Western Sydney often misses out when state government allocates money and resources to Western Sydney.
Not only that, the Campbelltown MP says if Labor wins the next election in 2023 and he becomes minister for Western Sydney he would change the name of the ministry to West and South Western Sydney.
In a wide ranging interview with the South West Voice, Mr Warren, who is also shadow minister for veterans and local government, pointed to several decisions which confirm that this patch of Western Sydney regularly gets a poor deal from Macquarie Street.
“When people think of Western Sydney they think west of Parramatta, Penrith, Blacktown, Seven Hills, Mulgoa, St Marys,’’ he says.
“That’s why I make sure when I am talking about it to break it up into Western Sydney and South Western Sydney.
“It’s true South Western Sydney region gets overlooked; the exclusion of heavy rail to the new airport is evidence of that,’’ says Mr Warren.
He points out that federal and state plans to connect heavy rail to the new airport when it opens in 2026 are restricted to a line from Badgerys Creek to the existing track at St Marys and the western line.
Plans for heavy rail from the airport south to the Macarthur region or the South West Rail link have been consigned to the investigation stage and may not become reality for 20 years or more.
Mr Warren says the South Western region is the fastest growing area in Sydney and deserves better.
But it’s not just rail he would advocate for if he were in the minister’s chair in 2023.
“We don’t have a women’s hospital anywhere in Western Sydney, which means local women have to travel to the city,’’ he says.
“The same goes for the need for a children’s ICU in South Western Sydney.’’
Mr Warren believes the Western Sydney minister should have more power to achieve the desired outcomes for the region.
“It would ensure the interests of the region have more influential representation in the government of the day,’’ he says.
On veterans, Mr Warren says he’s would want to give them a voice.
One of the stakeholders he consults with is Ray James, the Campbelltown resident who is currently the acting president of the NSW RSL organisation.
“The RSL are key stakeholders, important people in the veterans’ space,’’ says Mr Warren.
“Ray is a veteran himself and has a passion to get better outcomes.
“And it’s about giving veterans a voice, a lot of them are quite silent,’’ he says.
Mr Warren says his view about local government representation is that it should be about quality not quantity
“If councils and their community feel they need 5, 7, 9, 13 or 15 councillors, that’s fine by me,’’ he says.
“If a particularly area wants to reduce that number by referendum then so be it, and I would support a community in such a process.
“It’s a bit like the distribution of wealth – it’s not how much you’ve got, it’s how it’s used and how effective it is,’’ says the former mayor and deputy mayor of Camden, where he served two terms.
“Local council is the closest government to community, they play a vital role,’’ he says.
“And while they’re not constitutionally recognised and every one of the 128 councils in NSW is an arm of the NSW government, the effectiveness of them and the commitment of local representatives must be paramount.
“If they don’t do their job they deserve to lose it.
“I would have a meritorious approach to local councils.
“Where they are doing something that’s not in the interest of their community I would respond to that as the minister.
“There are some good council and some not so good in NSW. I would empower councils but also make them more accountable.’’
Mr Warren says Covid-19 has made being in opposition even harder than it usually is.
“People are not really interested in the politics of political parties at the moment,’’ he says.
“They just want to see policies and a process to get us through this and gets us to the other side so we can get back to the normality of our lives.’’