Profile: David Borger

Tell us a bit about yourself.

As the Western Sydney Director for the Sydney Business Chamber, I work with members, engage with decision makers and advocate for enlightened public policy that drives the region forward.

One of our main campaigns has been to drive support for the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. I also engage in extensive collaboration with government agencies, community and stakeholders as well as education institutions to support other initiatives including the Powerhouse Museum relocation to Parramatta, the Westmead and Liverpool Innovation Districts, Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta Light Rail and West Metro.

My knowledge of the issues affecting Western Sydney is informed by my experience as a minister in the New South Wales Government and as a former Lord Mayor of Parramatta.

I am also a director of a variety of organisations.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing Western Sydney?

Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy with a current population of around two million.

By 2036, it is projected that there will be another one million people living in the region. This will have profound implications for transport and social infrastructure as well as housing and employment.

The issue we have is that the ratio of jobs to residents has been falling because the area was traditionally reliant on manufacturing, which is an industry that’s in decline.

Every day, we’ve got around 300,000 residents that commute from Western Sydney to jobs in the east. This puts a huge strain on Sydney’s transport network, not to mention families.

The imperatives before us are to diversify the employment market, attract new investment, and improve public transport to the region.

Of course, we have the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek (Sydney’s second airport) which we hope will be the heart of a new ‘aerotropolis’ featuring universities, high-tech industries, convention centres, produce markets, hotels and sporting stadiums. This represents a catalyst for economic growth and will help facilitate improved productivity for the region by providing businesses with better connections and accessibility to transport networks.

How do you balance the expectations of the community with the region’s aspirations for economic growth?

We have to be realistic. Change in the region is inevitable. The key is to ensure this change is carefully planned, managed and executed, particularly in terms of infrastructure.

A large percentage of new migrants in Australia settle in Western Sydney, and the community is relatively young with people under 35 accounting for about half of the population.

That’s why improving liveability needs to be high on the agenda. That means creating communities where residents feel socially connected and included. The essential ingredients to this are diverse housing options linked via public transport to employment, education, local shops, public open spaces and parks, health and community services, leisure and culture.

To make this happen, we need to take a more integrated approach to land use planning that incorporates residential developments with commercial and industrial employment-generating facilities.

And, central to liveability is connectivity. It’s crucial that we make the region much more accessible with effective road and rail networks that link to Badgerys Creek Airport.

Can Western Sydney grow sustainably?

Yes, I think it can. We need to focus on good planning and managing impacts on the region’s unique natural environment.

The region is home to some important rural and agricultural lands as well as spectacular bushland, including the World Heritage-listed areas of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury-Nepean and Georges River systems and their catchments.

As Western Sydney develops, we will need to address the issue of vegetation clearing and the impacts on habitat, native fauna, water management, urban heat and waste. Adopting large-scale sustainability measures and new technologies will help.

What are your top 5 priorities for the region?

  1. Rail – Construction of a rail link to Badgerys Creek Airport as well as a faster train line between Sydney and Western Sydney.
  2. Healthcare – Support the redevelopment of the Westmead and Liverpool hospitals and assist in attracting further investment into areas such as biotech.
  3. Culture – Improve access to arts and culture with the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum. While this will be a catalyst to enabling a vibrant arts scene, we also need major new investment and cultural infrastructure in Liverpool, Campbelltown and Penrith.
  4. Liveability – Focus on outer Western Sydney and look to rebuild town centres and provide greater social amenities, which in turn can stimulate the creation of better retail and residential precincts.
  5. Education – Collaborate with government, education institutions and businesses to help transform Liverpool into a higher education hub which can deliver substantial economic and social benefits.