Wednesday, 20 March 2024 08:53

President’s Message: Leadership that helps hold Western Sydney together... Featured

WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC

Recently it was my pleasure to welcome NSW Premier Chris Minns to one of our regular WSROC Board of Directors Meetings (22 February) along with mayors, councillors and executive staff representing councils and communities of Greater Western Sydney.

I and others attending were able to discuss with the Premier a wide range of issues, including housing affordability, public transport, cost of living pressures, business investment, job creation, public service reform, and other concerns affecting the 2.1 million people of our region.

Premier Minns was particularly appreciative of what he called our member councils' "all-encompassing" work.

"Your efforts are the very definition of civic spiritedness. You do things because you care about community and want to be part of positive change," said the Premier.SMALL LR Premier Minns Barry Calvert 1

"WSROC's leadership helps hold Western Sydney together."

The Premier also mentioned that since this and other recent meetings with Western Sydney's mayors, there was a "far more productive and collaborative approach to new housing" and other topics vital to the region.

"The mayors of Western Sydney are not NIMBYs. All the hard work on housing supply and affordability has taken place in Western Sydney."

WSROC’s advocacy is increasingly focused on impressing on all levels of government of the need for and benefits from working in partnership.

With the integration of the Cities Commission into the Department of Planning under the Minns Government especially, the time is ripe for collective progress.

We extend our invitation to the NSW and Commonwealth governments to collaborate with WSROC in crafting solutions to the many pressing issues confronting Greater Western Sydney.

These include addressing housing shortages, enhancing public transport accessibility, managing energy and waste sustainably, and tackling the challenges of extreme heat in Western and South-Western Sydney, among other concerns that directly impact our economy, environment, and society.

There’s no doubt that collaborative partnerships can bring substantial benefits to our member councils.

Such an approach has recently resulted in nine Western Sydney councils saving an additional $34 million in street lighting energy costs over the next five years,

This result was the outcome of a joint submission by WSROC councils and environmental consultancy Ironbark Sustainability to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in response to proposed council street lighting tariffs by Endeavour Energy for the 2024-2029 period.

In our submission to the AER, WSROC and Ironbark challenged Endeavour Energy’s cost estimates for the maintenance of its streetlighting network in Western Sydney.

This had immediate effect.

Endeavour Energy, to their credit, worked with WSROC, Ironbark and the AER to make changes to the streetlight tariffs, reducing the overall cost to councils by $34 million.

More information about that excellent result can be seen here

Meanwhile, co-design of Greater Sydney’s first coordinated plan for addressing heat risk has continued under the Greater Sydney Heat Taskforce.

The Plan’s detail is not due to be released until the second half of 2024, however WSROC has seen enormous value in bringing together diverse stakeholders to workshop the collective challenges we face.

The most rewarding part of this process has been observing new networks and partnerships bloom between state and federal agencies, councils as well as industry and community stakeholders.

An early piece of work from one of our Taskforce partners is the ‘Burning Money Report’ released by the Committee for Sydney on 18 March.

The report addresses a key need identified by the Taskforce – better quantifying the economic impacts of heat on our city.

According to the report, heatwaves are costing $1.6 billion annually in health, energy and productivity losses in Western Sydney — and it will only get worse.

‘Burning Money’ finds Western Sydney experiences 10 days a year above 35C - a figure expected to double by the 2070s.

Partly due to geographical differences, suburbs in Western Sydney are typically 6C to 10C hotter than coastal suburbs during heatwaves.

Sam Kernaghan, from the Committee for Sydney which commissioned the report, said heatwaves were making Sydney's west less liveable and more expensive.

The report makes five key recommendations:

  • Appoint a lead agency to deliver integrated heatwave adaptation.
  • Integrate heatwave risk into a new Disaster Adaptation Plans across Greater Sydney.
  • Embed the economic costs of heatwaves in the next NSW Intergenerational Report.
  • Explore heatwave insurance options for business and households.
  • Accelerate action on Decarbonising Sydney and NSW.

I would particularly like to commend WSROC’s ‘Turn Down the Heat’ project team members whose excellent work has greatly strengthened the report.

Barry Calvert — President, WSROC

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 March 2024 14:34

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