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The Turnbulls’ dream to make western Sydney as liveable as the eastern suburbs

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In an era of climate change, Lucy Turnbull said it was crucial to combat the intense heat in western Sydney to ensure the area reaches its potential.

“I can’t overemphasise that it is absolutely critical that western Sydney is compensated for the lack of a nor’easter that the eastern harbour city has through really good shade tree cover and to ensure walkability because all the great cities in the world are walkable cities,” she said.

The Turnbulls want to reimagine western Sydney suburbia by making it greener, more walkable and more densely populated like the inner city and eastern suburbs.

The Turnbulls want to reimagine western Sydney suburbia by making it greener, more walkable and more densely populated like the inner city and eastern suburbs.Credit:James Alcock

“You could say that several components of western Sydney don’t have that element of walkability and you’ve got to build that back in.”

Malcolm Turnbull agreed, saying the most dynamic and attractive areas of Canberra – a city designed for cars – were densely populated, pedestrian friendly areas such as the Kingston foreshore.

When planning transport infrastructure, he said it was vital for policymakers to remember the Sydney CBD “is in fact, on the eastern perimeter of the city – it’s not central”.

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“You have got to be careful that you don’t exacerbate the problem of basically drawing everything into the eastern harbour city,” he said.

“You’ve got to make sure you’ve got transport links going across the city rather than just like spokes into the hub of the CBD.”

He pointed to his government’s funding for the north-south rail link from St Marys to the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis as an example of spreading transport infrastructure across the city.

Malcolm Turnbull said the Nationals and some Liberal politicians were previously “allergic” to cities policy and funding for mass transit, an attitude he tried to shift as prime minister.

Asked if the Liberal Party, which lost several blue ribbon seats at the last election, would remain invested in cities policy, he said: “If the party ever wants to get back into government, they will have to.”

Two planning experts – Sydney University associate professor Glen Searle and Melbourne University professor emeritus Kevin O’Connor – recently criticised the “flawed vision” of the then Greater Sydney Commission’s 2018 master plan A Metropolis of Three Cities.

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They said the plan – released under Lucy Turnbull’s leadership – undermined Parramatta’s potential, failed to combat the intense heat of outer western Sydney and placed too much emphasis on motorways.

Lucy Turnbull dismissed the complaints as “completely misconceived”, saying: “I wish these people would get out of their research units at Sydney Uni, away from their desktop, and actually get out and see what’s happening.”

Searle defended the paper, published in the Urban Policy and Research journal, and said he had spent considerable time in western Sydney.

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