Western Sydney is Australia’s third-largest economy. With its population set to grow by one million people over the next twenty years, a City Deal for this region will be a big deal. The two other City Deals struck so far – in Townsville and Launceston – have been more modest in scope, which makes Western Sydney the first substantial test of the Coalition’s “smart cities” approach to urban development. When he announced the policy in April last year, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said that smart cities would deliver all the things that Lindy Deitz wants for her squinters and more: “Jobs closer to homes, more affordable housing, better transport connections and healthy environments.”
The Fraser, Howard and Abbott governments tended to “stick to their knitting,” treating cities, urban policy and public transport as the realm of state governments. Turnbull is bucking this trend.