In Conversation: Chris Brown AM Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Q&A




In this exclusive Q+A with Christopher Brown AM, Chairman, Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, we delve into the core of Western Sydney's development.

Established in 2014, the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue aimed to spotlight the region's key issues, which are often overlooked. Over the past decade, it has been pivotal in advocating for essential infrastructure, healthcare, and housing.

Christopher Brown AM provides valuable insights into the Dialogue's day-to-day operations, strategic vision for Greater Western Sydney's future, and the collaborative efforts crucial for sustainable growth.

What prompted the establishment of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, and what noticeable impact or transformative outcomes have been observed since its commencement?

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue was established in 2014 to shine a light on the key issues that are important to our region. We wanted to spark a national conversation about the West, which at the time was often overlooked and undervalued.

I’m proud to say that the Dialogue’s record of success since we launched ten years ago with the then-NSW Premier, Mike Baird, has been significant and wide-ranging. A lot of that comes down to collaboration and the enduring partnerships that have helped us advocate for the delivery of big infrastructure projects, key transport connections, sport and health facilities alongside local amenity, like access to safe and swimmable waterways.

Over the years, much like the region itself, the Dialogue has evolved and grown. For example, we’ve been on the Western Sydney Airport advocacy journey, from the very start, so it’s very rewarding to know that the state’s first 24/7 international airport and supporting infrastructure will be opening soon.

Along the way we’ve campaigned for new roads, rail and metro connections, we’ve fought for hospital beds, office towers and affordable housing - which I know is important to Coronation.

At the end of the day, we’re telling Western Sydney’s story, warts and all – the wins, the ‘can-do-betters’ and the glaring gaps where industry and government at all levels need to step in. I think in our own small way we’ve helped give the community a powerful voice.

Could you provide insights into a typical day within the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, detailing key activities and strategic initiatives?

Right now, we’re putting the finishing touches on our April 11 Airport City Summit, which will feature Ministers and Mayors from Federal, State and Local Governments, alongside industry leaders to look at the amazing opportunities for Western Sydney. I’m also working across time zones to put together our second East London Study Tour, which I’m excited to be leading in June to look at housing and transport in the UK. We’re having conversations behind the scenes every day for our biggest policy piece to date, Beyond the Boom, which looks at what’s needed next to cement the region’s sustainable future. Deputy Premier Prue Car, is the project Patron and we’ll be releasing that paper later this year.

We’ve got events, policy, research, partner and comms teams that day-to-day work on a variety of initiatives, and we’re constantly checking in. Each year the Dialogue holds large-scale industry summits, smaller seminars, boardroom lunches, study tours and immersive leadership programs. We launch policy papers and engage with the community at a grassroots level, such as the Bankstown Poetry Slam, Story Factory and Savannah Pride, which are doing great work with local kids, and I love going to their events. A lot of our public issues advocacy makes headlines across radio, TV, newspapers and online, so myself and CEO, Adam Leto, are always on call to respond to media inquiries.

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Parramatta CBD

In your strategic vision, what trajectories do you envision for the future of Greater Western Sydney, considering economic, infrastructural, and cultural dimensions?

We need to ensure that the city centres we’re building in the west are connected to the infrastructure that will support the region. We need facilities and services that empower local communities, support women, advantage First Nations people, boost skills, create jobs for locals and ensure long-term economic growth. We need a lot more affordable homes – but we need jobs, schools, theatres, rail lines, hospital beds for those who rent or buy those houses and apartments.

It’s much more than just a matter of ‘build it, job done’. We also need to repair our rivers, fix heat islands and ensure economic development is embedded with social return for local communities. That’s why we need to bring together government, industry, academia, innovation and community advocates to create collaborative, fiscally and environmentally responsible and enduring projects that will stand the test of time.

In the short term, what strategies can the government employ to encourage and expedite the development of Western Sydney, with a focus on enhancing housing supply and creating improved prospects for those living in the region?

The cost-of-living pressures and housing crisis are very real, and it's hitting Western Sydney hardest. The government’s housing reform agenda needs to be delivered so we can address housing stress and supply shortfalls. We need certainty when it comes to policy and decision-making, and clear streamlined processes for industry and key partners to do business with the government.

There is clearly a need for urgency and an emphasis on not just building homes, but building communities that are liveable and linked to services and vital infrastructure, so Western Sydney residents aren’t isolated from jobs and critical services. We desperately need access for local residents to recreational water – just like the beachfront and harbourside residents of the east.

Reflecting on the Mason & Main development in Merrylands, how do you foresee its contributions and advancements impacting Western Sydney?

I think Mason & Main demonstrates the great potential of Western Sydney development. It shows you can create a landmark destination only 5-minutes from Parramatta's CBD that offers first-class amenity and luxury lifestyle options alongside key affordable housing for essential workers in the region, which addresses a pressing issue in Western Sydney. ‘Build to Rent’ projects are the future for our region and well done to Coronation for leading the pack, especially in Merrylands, where my mother grew up.

Mason & Main, Merrylands

How would you characterise the impact of Coronation Property Group’s contributions to the growth of Western Sydney?

Western Sydney is at the heart of Coronation. Joseph Nahas grew up in Merrylands also, right around the corner from the Mason & Main development, so they ‘get’ the west, its people and its needs. With cost-of-living pressures and housing affordability key issues for people in Western Sydney, Coronation developments are a vital part of the housing mix that are also creating local jobs and supporting local businesses. It’s a family company that understand families in the West.

These insights highlight the crucial role played by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue in advocating for the region's development. Through collaborative efforts and initiatives, they address challenges and drive progress. From upcoming summits to supporting projects like Mason & Main in Merrylands, their work reflects a narrative of practical advancement and community engagement, shaping Western Sydney's promising future.