Sunday, June 06, 2010

New State arguments 8 - why Sydney needs out from NSW

In the past, one of the most basic problems in achieving self-government lay in the fact that Sydney would lose jobs and economic control. This is not an anti-Sydney argument, just a practical refection. The position has changed.

Sydney's problem now is that the need for a NSW Government to consider broader issues in an increasingly fragmented and disparate state means that Sydney itself is not getting the attention it needs.

Sydney as a city has been losing position to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The use of the Sydney Statistical District as a construct for Sydney conceals this to some the extent. The Sydney Statistical district includes the Blue Mountains and Central Coast. This combination shows Sydney still increasing its share of the NSW population. However, Sydney as traditionally defined has in fact been been losing share.

The Sydney Morning Herald as Sydney's local paper has been campaigning for several years for action to address Sydney's needs. Schools, transport and declining infrastructure have been central to that campaign.

Sydney defines itself as Australia's global city. It has become a city state in it's own right. Yet it's image is increasingly blurred. The NSW Government's brand Sydney campaign has been a fiasco. By contrast, Melbourne has reinvented itself as Australia's life style capital. In the absence of change, it seems likely that Sydney's relative decline will continue.

In smaller Victoria, the Government through its jigsaw strategy has been able to promote Melbourne and the Victorian regions. This is not possible in NSW. Further, with increasingly limited state resources, conflicts over the investment required to rebuild Sydney are inevitable.

In a NSW consisting of Sydney and its immediate environs, the Government could focus on its core mission of making Sydney Australia's greatest city.


Greg said...

Excellent post Jim. Sydney's relative decline is a real issue. It is already a virtual city-state. It has different needs and deserves special attention.

NSW seems incapable of being able to adequately address the widely different needs of metropolitan and regional NSW to the detriment of both.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Greg. I think that you are dead right on the second point.

It actually feels slightly odd to be arguing a Sydney perspective when I spend so much time in the opposite camp. But New England's rise need not be associated with Sydney decline.

Peter Firminger said...

The Premier doesn't even try to hide the fact that the Labor NSW Government is all about Sydney. In her lengthy press conference about losing the two ministers on the weekend, she went through to goals of the Labor Government and they were (with the exception on the River Red Gum policy) ALL Sydney-based. She was very proud of the V8 Supercar race at Homebush... that helped the rest of the State how?

Jim Belshaw said...

Too true, Peter.