Short-term fixes for Western Sydney in the budget says the region’s think tank

The Federal Budget favours quick-fixes ahead of long-term support for Western Sydney, according to regional think tank, the Centre for Western Sydney (opens in a new window), based at Western Sydney University.

Commenting on Tuesday night’s budget and the Opposition’s Thursday evening budget reply, Centre Director Professor Andy Marks said Western Sydney is home to the highest concentration of essential workers in the country who are amongst the lowest paid.

He said Western Sydney workers are likely to feel there is very little in the budget for them.

“Disappointingly, this budget favours one-off payments and temporary relief ahead of sustainable solutions. Rising cost-of-living is not a temporary problem. Short-term fixes won’t do.”

For a region that has shown extraordinary resilience and adaptability, the budget was a missed opportunity for reform, according to Professor Marks.

“Where is the plan in the budget to address stalled wage growth? Where are the strategies to improve rental affordability across regions like Western Sydney or fix social housing shortages,” he said.

Alternatively, Labor’s pledge, in its budget reply, to support a real pay increase for aged care workers was encouraging, said Professor Marks, but more is needed.

“For a region growing as quickly as Western Sydney, building capacity in other ‘essential’ professions like nursing, disability services and childcare is also an urgent priority.”

Labor’s proposed $2.5 billion investment in aged care is a much-needed commitment, said Professor Marks.

“This sector is under extraordinary pressure, and the poorer health outcomes we contend with in many parts of Western Sydney only heighten the need to act.”

On education, Professor Marks noted the budget did not address the “digital divide” – a reality for countless school-aged children across Western Sydney.

“During the lockdowns of the past two years we saw an alarming disconnect from education among students in large areas of Western Sydney where digital connectivity and access to devices is challenging. The budget was silent on that generational issue,” said Professor Marks.

In contrast, the Centre viewed the budget’s support for digital transformation and upskilling for businesses as a positive for Western Sydney.

“These are smart measures that will help the region’s businesses capitalise on the supply chain and technology opportunities stemming from major infrastructure projects like the Western Sydney Airport,” said Professor Marks.

“The Centre for Western Sydney would have liked to have seen more targeted support for female entrepreneurs, especially when Western Sydney has among the highest rates of female-led startups in Australia.”


1 April  2022

Amanda Whibley, Manager, Media and Public Relations