As the 2023 NSW State election looms ever closer, more and more people are deciding which way they will swing their vote.
Especially here in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region, with Wollongong as its regional capital becoming one of the most popular regions to live, work and play.
Our population is rising rapidly, you only have to look at the skyline to see how much it has changed in the last ten years – slowly but surely ‘the Gong’ is becoming a city and is now a hotspot for people seeking a sea change or a slower pace than Sydney.
We have the third largest regional economy in New South Wales and the second major trade gateway for Greater Sydney and are key players to the future growth of the Six-City Mega Region.
We are close to both Eastern Sydney as well as the Aerotropolis being established around the Western Sydney Airport that will form strong links with the Port at Port Kembla.
With all of this in mind, the upcoming NSW State election will be critical to our region’s future.
Here at the Property Council of Australia, we have identified several key recommendations for the incoming government to ensure the region continues to grow well and succeeds in remaining one of the state’s most liveable places.
The challenge will be to take advantage of these economic drivers while still retaining the Illawarra Shoalhaven’s distinctive character and creating greater local communities.
To get there, we would like to see the launch and delivery of a transformative inter-regional City Partnership which enables growth for the Illawarra Shoalhaven economy and Greater Sydney as part of the six-city mega region.
This will ensure we don’t get left behind, that investment is directed to our region and jobs are created with the delivery of major infrastructure projects across our region.
In terms of projects requiring funding, we would like to see a Business Case and Master Plan secured and committed to for the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct, which includes the upgrade of the Win Entertainment Centre (WEC).
There are so many opportunities to make this precinct a great place for people to spend time in, that would enable us to bring jobs, major events and tourism to our city.
Road upgrades are also on the list, including the Mount Ousley Interchange and Picton Road, which provide key freight and commuter links between our Port and Greater Sydney.
These roads urgently need long term improvements not just for the long term economic growth of our region, but for people’s safety.
Time and time again we hear about thirty-minute cities and better accessibility, yet some of us spend hours travelling to and from work and we all know our rail infrastructure needs major upgrades.
The delivery of a detailed network plan and business case for the Southwest Rail Link and/or a Fast Rail Strategy across the Greater Six Cities Region would assist in improving our region’s connection to other major parts of the state.
But without housing, none of this matters. We need targeted delivery of affordable and diverse housing close to where people work, and with accessibility to retail centres and transport nodes.
While many of our local councils are working deliver on their housing targets, more needs to be done to ensure that state government are working together with local councils to ensure they are delivering their fair share of housing supply.
Meeting housing targets outlined and agreed to as part of the Illawarra Shoalhaven regional plan are a good first step, however, this is only part of the solution in tackling the housing crisis across our region and we need to do more.
Over the past decade policymakers have been reluctant to intervene in cases where delivery of additional housing has been insufficient.
However, there are a range of “step in” options available to government and tools that can be used, to identify underperforming councils and ensure housing targets are being met.
As a minimum, we would like to see the incoming Government step up and take a leadership role and be more accountable for ensuring the delivery of safe, affordable and accessible housing right across the state.
In just over a month, as we head to the polls, let’s hope that whoever forms government takes notice of the Illawarra Shoalhaven region, considers these recommendations and future proofs the prosperity of our region, not just for our generation but for future generations to come.