Premier’s plan to grow Sydney,create new cities and science minister

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will overhaul a 2017 state government plan to divide Sydney into three “30-minute” cities by expanding it to six and appointing a new cities minister in his upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

It will be one of two new roles in the cabinet,along with a minister for science,innovation and technology to oversee greater collaboration between government and universities.

Mr Perrottet will also create a modern manufacturing commissioner to connect local research with industry,insisting NSW could not just be a service economy.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says he wants to lead a modern government “that doesn’t accept the status quo”.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says he wants to lead a modern government “that doesn’t accept the status quo”.Kate Geraghty

“Every economic powerhouse has a strong manufacturing base,” he said,delivering the News Corp Bradfield Oration on Thursday. “We have to keep making things.”

The Premier said he planned to lead a modern government “that doesn’t accept the status quo,” revamping the Greater Sydney Commission to become the Greater Cities Commission,including Newcastle,the Central Coast and Wollongong as major metropolitan centres.

“These are cities already undergoing rapid change and revitalisation. They have been industrial workhorses of the past,” he said,adding that universities would play a key role in the expansion.

“Newcastle,the Central Coast and Wollongong are already home to campuses that punch well above their weight with growing global reputations in fields like energy,engineering and health sciences.

“I am passionate about education,and we will make NSW the smartest state.”

The 2017 plan to divide Sydney into three interconnected cities - western,central and eastern - was the foundation element of the Greater Sydney Commission under its first commissioner Lucy Turnbull. She resigned from the role in March last year.

Mr Perrottet on Thursday said,while the east-west axis of the three cities plan connected Sydney’s airports,adding a north-south axis would connect major seaports,to “link every port”.

The science,innovation and technology minister will oversee a new Department of Enterprise and Investment. The modern manufacturing commissioner will be supported by a taskforce led by Venues NSW and SCG chairman Tony Shepherd.

Labor leader Chris Minns said the opposition welcomed any strategy to recognise cities like Wollongong as centres of innovation and infrastructure,but did so with caution.

“The government has cut the regional minister for the Illawarra as part of their cabinet and they don’t even have a parliamentary secretary representing Wollongong and the Illawarra,” he said.

“So if this is a change,a bureaucratic change that doesn’t result in enhancing Wollongong and making sure they’ve got a seat at the table ... that would be a concern.”

Labor has recently seized on faults in overseas-manufactured stock across the public transport network,including trams on the inner west light rail and Manly ferries.

Mr Minns on Thursday promised a return to domestic manufacturing if Labor wins the next election,saying he would release its infrastructure and domestic procurement plan closer to the 2023 poll.

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Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

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