Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan has praised a new deal which will see western Sydney and surrounds become an economic powerhouse.
Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly mayors were among eight Sydney council representatives who signed off on the Western Sydney City Deal on Sunday.
Each council area will benefit from a $15 million grant to boost infrastructure and parklands.
However, the Macarthur district will not get a rail connection to the planned Western Sydney Airport in the foreseeable future.
The state and federal government will jointly fund a north-south rail link connecting the new airport at Badgerys Creek to St Mary’s. The link is expected to be opened by the time the airport opens in 2026.
Hume MP Angus Taylor said the deal was the first of its kind in Australia.
“Eight councils and the state and federal government have agreed on a plan for the future of the region over the next two decades,” he said.
“We will plan for and invest in infrastructure ahead of the [population] growth.”
Mr Taylor said Macarthur/Campbelltown would definitely get a rail connection to the airport in the future but could not provide any detail on a timeline.
“There is no ambiguity that the north-south rail link will include Macarthur,” he said.
“The state and federal government have committed to first connecting St Mary’s to the airport and once that link is up and running then subsequent areas will be connected as soon as possible.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that $100 million in funding would be spent on a business case for the rail project, which would likely cost several billion dollars.
Macarthur MP Dr Mike Freelander said it was “disappointing” the Leppington link to the airport rail line would not be built when the airport opened.
“The City Deal only includes an ‘investigation’ into the full North-South Rail Link from Schofields to Macarthur and a South West Link to connect Leppington to the Badgerys Creek Airport,” he said.
“Labor has committed to a rail link from Badgerys Creek Airport to Leppington and the Macarthur to St Mary's line and I will continue to work for this to happen.”
Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan said the deal did not promise the electrification of the Southern Highlands line but there were still several benefits for shire residents.
“I want more rail,” she said. “It will be business as usual for us. We will continue to lobby for electrification.
“We have not lost anything in this deal. We have gained and we want to gain more.”
Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell said he welcomed the announcement and would continue to lobby for the second party of the rail link to Macarthur.
The rail line is designed to meet the goal of putting western Sydney residents within 30 minutes of up to 200,000 jobs at an “aerotropolis” business park located at north Bringelly.
Cr Hannan said residents would be able to access those jobs just across the shire’s border.
“Residents can access jobs in the new agribusiness precinct,” she said.
“That could mean importing or exporting poultry or attracting people to grow vegetables or other produce in the shire or it might be research into the agricultural industry.”
The city deal package also includes a $150 million liveability program, funded jointly by the federal, state and local governments, which will deliver new parkland and community facilities and investment in 5G data technology.
Cr Hannan said the council had to discuss what regional project would be funded by the $15 million but it could be for example an arts precinct or a sporting field.
“There is criteria for what we can spend the money on,” she said.
“It has to have regional significance. We can’t use it to fill the potholes.
“Having 5G technology will make it easier for home businesses and will help attract jobs to the area.
“It is also important to note that there will be no increase to the number of houses in Wollondilly as a result of this deal.”