Private profiteering from the public purse must be stopped say WSROC

WSROC is calling for a review of the acquisition of land processes when it comes to public infrastructure investment. Picture: WSROC
WSROC is calling for a review of the acquisition of land processes when it comes to public infrastructure investment. Picture: WSROC

Reports of landowners and developers gaining significant profits from publicly-funded infrastructure investment has sparked the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) to call for a review.

WSROC president and Hawkesbury Councillor Barry Calvert said the most recent example of private windfalls from land acquisition processes was at Badgerys Creek for the aerotropolis.

He said that the "potential profits from land rezonings in the growth areas of Western Sydney will be staggering".

"Further reports, alleging private interests are shaping Government investment decisions in this precinct, are extremely concerning," Councillor Calvert said.

"Currently, government policy allows rezonings to blow out land values virtually overnight, to the disproportionate benefit of private interests. Taxpayer money - which funds major development, such as the aerotropolis - then becomes private profit. Sloppy policy is denying the community a respectable return on investment.

"Large-scale private profiting from taxpayer-funded works in Western Sydney does nothing to benefit our region's existing or emerging communities. Our region's success demands an effective policy framework that recognises the significant public investment in infrastructure and ensures that a fair proportion of the benefits of those investments are returned to communities and not just private interests."

Cr Calvert said that developments like the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and accompanying regional transport networks "should not become a honey pot for unchecked opportunism".

"The current, fragmented approach to funding infrastructure and services in Western Sydney has left holes in high growth areas - including insufficient transport links to connect people with work opportunities," he said. "At present, delivery of the full North-South Rail link is delayed due to lack of funding.

"Councils in Western Sydney are struggling to fund essential infrastructure like parks, cultural facilities, sporting fields, swimming pools and libraries through existing funding arrangements. Local infrastructure projects currently stand at a backlog of more than $2 billion to 2036. That's unfunded social infrastructure that is needed for new and existing Western Sydney communities to be both liveable and functional.

"WSROC calls for a review of public policy which currently allows disproportionate private gains to be made from publicly-funded works. Both federal and state governments must act to promptly facilitate taxpayer investment in key developments from funding provided via value capture mechanisms. We want to see a more equitable approach, that ensures funds are invested back into the region."