Here’s how Lucy Turnbull can “fix” Sydney

By Leith van Onselen

The AFR has run a piece today exploring the “battle” taking place between Lucy Turnbull – the chair of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) – and North Shore residents over Sydney’s future population growth and planning:

Lucy Turnbull wants to fix Australia’s biggest city…

Appointed the first chief commissioner of the newly formed Greater Sydney Commission two years ago, Turnbull has one of the most important planning jobs in the nation: cajole dozens of autonomous councils into implementing the commission’s 20-year plan to make Sydney a better-designed city.

One of her greatest challenges will be convincing the prosperous suburbs along a new $20 billion train line that will run from central Sydney through Chatswood to Hornsby to accept tens of thousands more residents on their currently peaceful streets.

“Sydney has the potential to be the capital of the southern hemisphere – if we get the planning right,” she said in a speech last year…

Planning advocates and business groups, who are watching closely, wonder “does Sydney’s planning czar have the guts to upset the north shore?”..

So far Turnbull has shown little appetite to challenge vested interests, and it is unclear if she has the skill or will to outmanoeuvre the political interests blocking development in some of Sydney’s most desirable suburbs.

…”high-octane nimbyism” by residents has seized up construction of housing in the area, says Tim Williams, the chief executive of lobby group Committee for Sydney…

“We are putting homes where there are no transport links or jobs and not putting them in places with the best rail connectivity in Sydney, possibly Australia,” he says. “This is perverse, anti-social and economically damaging”…

Residents are horrified at the prospect at more densely populated suburbs, and say their roads, schools and other urban necessities aren’t ready for an influx of people. “Get your infrastructure in place first before you develop the population,” says Richard Quinn, the mayor of Hunter’s Hill. “I can tell you there won’t be 30 storeys [apartment buildings] built here”…

Almost everyone agrees Sydney is a city with too much traffic, not enough housing and weak public transport.

There’s is a quick and easy way for Lucy Turnbull to safeguard Sydney’s future livability, and it won’t cost a cent in additional new infrastructure: tap her husband on the shoulder and demand that the federal government slash Australia’s mass immigration program.

It is this mass immigration program that drove the 845,000 (20%) increase in Sydney’s population in the 12 years to 2016:

And it is Australia’s mass immigration program that is primarily responsible for the 87,000 people per year projected increase in Sydney’s population to 6.4 million over the next 20-years – effectively adding another Perth to the city’s population:

You can see from the State Government’s own projections above that Sydney’s population would grow by 1.53 million fewer people over the next 20-years with zero net overseas migration. That’s the equivalent of nearly four Canberras that would not need to be built across the city, along with all the extra cars choking-up Sydney’s roads, as well as extra people cramming public transport.

Mass immigration is the driver of Sydney’s population explosion. So slashing immigration must be part of the solution to ameliorating population pressures.

Of course, elites like Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull don’t care, because the bulk of the overcrowding is not projected to occur in wealthy locations like Woollahra, but in the city’s West – home to Sydney’s working class ‘riff raff’:

This is why it is time for Sydney’s working classes to rise up against the deliberate mass immigration that is adding to competition in the labour market, driving-up housing costs, and lowering overall livability, all for the benefit of the wealthy elite.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The number of trains that can run on the Chatswood to central is physically limited by the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Adding more trains is simply not possible.

    This ‘announcement’ comes after a push by the NSW LNP to remove development approval from the councils for multi storey complex. This is not public policy. This is property developers issuing propaganda pieces with her face on it.

    • This is the new Metro they are discussing, comes with new tunnel under the harbour. It was always intended to be a trojan horse for high rise development, not a solution to any existing transport need. The densities they are proposing along it are shocking, higher than Hong Kong in some areas.

    • It will be fun and games at Chatswood Station in about 18 months when the North West line opens with a further 5 years to go before the new line from Chatswood to Central via Barangaroo opens.

      The contents of all those hundreds of yellow north west buses are now going to be dumped out on the Chatswood platform trying to get on the trains coming from Hornsby. Because the new line is metro those trains from the North West cannot continue on to the City along the North Shore line. So the capacity will be limited to trains they can run from Hornsby.

      A monumental stuff up by the Liberals who as usually look for the cheapest way of creating a pork fest for their private sector buddies.

      Instead of creating a new solution they will vandalise the Chatwood Epping line and in due course the Bankstown line as well.

      The smart plan was always to extend the Chatswood Epping line to Parramatta as planned along the Carlingford line alignment. That would have allowed thousands of people heading to North Sydney or Chatswood or St Leonards from the western suburbs to avoid crossing the bridge and going via the city. You will be suprised to see how many people are clogging up the trains to the city as they try to get to North Sydney.

      The North West certainly needed a line but it should have intersected with the Chatswood – Parramatta line at Epping and then travelled down to the city via top Ryde and Gladesville / Balmain or something like that.

      Notice how the new north west line stops a couple of km from Schofield station. That was no accident as any idiot would have run the line at least to Schofield to create a connection with the Richmond line.

      • Sounds like Sydney’s a lost cause!!! I’d rather be camping out any day of the week than dealing with such a chaotic over-crowded hell hole!

      • ” That was no accident”

        Exactly. Its not incompetence, its been planned with quite a degree of cynicism to have as few linkages as possible with the existing network. This Metro was devised with assistance from Hong Kong’s MTR. They are trying to emulate the MTR model of an integrated infrastructure/residential/commercial property development business whereby the transport delivers customers to shopping malls and residences around and above stations, and the operator has a finger in every pie. Solving existing transport problems (especially in the South West where none exist) was always secondary to creating a rationale for high density, high rise development which will inevitably create even more congestion.

        The parts of North Sydney that are getting Metro stations you will notice have large Chinese communities. Again that’s no accident as Chinese will be the market for the residences.

  2. Yep. There has been one new public high school open on the North Shore of Sydney is the last 40 years. The Pacific Highway is a car park. Don’t add it to the population while the infrastructure is so deficient.

    • Prefer to go to Mudgee these days for my weekend wine trips, I refuse to sit stuck on the pacific hwy for hours on the way to the Hunter.

  3. “Sydney has the potential to be the capital of the southern hemisphere – if we get the planning right,” she said in a speech last year…

    They really wont be happy until we’ve got Rio style Favelas.

    Also, who gives a fuck about “capital of the southern hemisphere”?!
    What a meaningless term.
    Capital of 30% of the global landmass!!11 Woo!!111
    We are the 1% of the 30%!!

    Makes about as much sense as gearing Adelaide up as a Hong Kong style trading hub. Moar ports!
    It simply isn’t geographically placed to BE a hub. EVER. That’s not to say Adelaide is a complete waste of time. It’s quite a pretty city, nestled between the coast and the hills. It’s just not suitable to being a trade hub.

    • I’d give that title to Singapore.

      Tiny land mass, bigger population than Sydney, superb public amenities, highrise everywhere. Treat yourself and take a dip in the infinity pool at the Marina Bay, amazing.

      If Sydney wants to be New York Manhattan, it’s going to have to grow up (pun intended).

      • Sydney is never going to be capital of anything other than NSW. This is the arse end of the world thousands of kilometers from major population centers. There isn’t a single multinational headquartered here, only local sales offices. The idea that this is a “global city” is pure conceit. The only things we ever had going were space, natural resources and environment, its a “lifestyle” destination. And sadly we seem determined to eliminate these advantages.

      • There’s just one minor detail which disqualifies Singapore as “capital of the southern hemisphere”.

        It’s in the north. That’s not to say that continental drift or a shift in the earth’s rotation can’t change that in time, but it might be a little beyond our lifetimes.

      • Singapore reminded me of Darling Harbour. Soulless, boring. You just want to leave a few minutes after you’ve arrived. But it probably suits you, I’m sure they have plenty of shops selling $1k shoes. Enrichment!

      • We’re up against Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aries, Jakarta, Lima and Jo’burg for “Capital of the Southern Hemisphere”. I say we just start building a building to house the parliament and declare ourselves capital before anyone else gets the idea.

      • Oh dear. If we are to have trolls on this site, could we perhaps have ones with at least a basic understanding of geography?

      • My bad. It feels Southern Hemisphere and that it is a few kilometres off doesn’t mean Sydney couldn’t learn a thing or two as to going highrise and higher density, because that is what it has to do.

      • Unconventional Economist: even with reduced immigration Sydney will still grow and that means either out or up. Those inner suburbs look ripe for higher density, done well.

        Migtronix: Can you swim. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it really is amazing.

      • Why don’t you go and live in New York then? We like Sydney the way it is and preferably was.

        Simone … i bet you swim in those heated chlorine infested pools. I swim in the cold Pacific every day. Real swimming.

      • Cape Town hammers Sydneys conceited ass in all respects (violent crime included). Plus it’s 10 hours flying time to London in the same time zone…
        “Capital of the southern hemisphere” – literally how corrupt amd stupid is that woman really?

  4. What exactly is the drive to become the “capital” of the southern hemisphere? I certainly can’t recall a big voter movement asking for it. Anyone got any idea where this came from, what the hell is the basis?

    The article is clear class warfare baiting, divide and conquer by neoliberals and the property developers paying for it. Everyone south of the river loves stories about NIMBYs getting their comeuppance, though in reality it mostly happens in red/green areas like the inner west, funny that.

    it is a case of cutting off your nose to spite the face. It is the working poor who will bear the brunt of this, while the Member for The Caymans and his family will remain perfectly insulated as the only part of the city they will ever see will be on the way to the airport. Trying to paint your own greed as some kind of divine mission is a tale as old as time.

    • The South West arm of the Metro will see the highest densities of new development and in areas which have currently very little in the way of community amenities and/or green space. They’re not proposing to improve this situation either, just cram more people in.

  5. I asked Lucy where the budget was to pay for all the additional infrastructure – answer was that’s a State Govt responsibility and not for the Greater Sydney Commission.

    I asked her whether the terms of reference included consideration of the optimum population growth rates – the answer was that population growth rates were in line with government projections.

    The more questions I asked, the more it felt like I was an extra in an episode of the ABC’s Utopia……

  6. Lucy Turnbull’s out of touch irrelevant head has progressed so far up her own arse she now looks like an anus with glasses – and that’s being nice

    • From that photo she looks like she belongs in some old Brit comedy with Ronnie Corbett, Bennie Hill music appropriate.

  7. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Jeez we come out with some wankery …..”capital of the Southern Hemisphere ” …….not a lot of cities in the Southern Hemisphere …..and a large proportion of them are shitholes (IMHO) ………it’s fitting that we should become The capital of shitholes ……..we are well on the way ……

    • billygoatMEMBER

      I reckon Denpasar has a better crack as capital of souhthern hemisphere. Check it for high density. Even in the congestion tourist still catch a smile.
      Also I suspect Simone is illegitimate offspring of Lucy &a Malcom slumming it with a spot of trolling the plebs on MB. It just doesn’t sound genuine : hollow & fake YES.

  8. Jesus Christ. I don’t care how many properties he owns, all the tea in China couldn’t make me marry THAT.

    • billygoatMEMBER

      Lends support to idea of elite transgender. They sure do age badly. You’d reckon with all that money they could keep themselves tidy. My mum must be blessed with superb ‘DNA’, at 75 years she is beautiful, warm smile, zero plastic, zero fillers & tucks – simply a woman aging gracefully. Why do female politicians look and sound hard, harsh, tough, sharp, mean spirited, ignorant, loud, brash, insensitive and devoid of femininity????? Serious question! And for all the money and simple styling any fashion company would give they dress badly. A poor reflection of women in general. I’m leaning with the crazies and reckon they might be blokes in drag. Same with some of the faves on ABC TV. What gives?

      • Maybe that’s why they are so greedy. Vanity and narcissism can only get you so far when you have a head like a bloke and a body a public school tuck shop lady could relate to.

      • Mrs Doubtfire anyone? 😛 The elite overplayed their hand with Michelle Obama, something seems off with Melania too I thinik. What a sick world we live in…

      • Anything to give Westmoreland his sense of moral superiority in his world without consequences, open border Australia. Think he’s nestled in Canberra too.

  9. Turnbull and his Mrs remind me of the Gai and Robbie Waterhouse situation confronting racing stewards years ago. One was a leading horse trainer the other a leading bookie. Husband, Robbie, would obviously have access across the dinner table to how Gai’s horses were ‘going’ on the track. And he could frame risk and bet accordingly. Bascially ….. insider trading. A fucking rort. But legal.

    While somewhat different the same applies with the Turnbull’s in many respects.

    Hey Mig. Crocodile Rock resumes this Saturday at Flemington. For what it is worth he is my Melbourne Cup fancy. Watch.

  10. In recent years a bunch of areas here in Brisvegas, primarily along the train lines, have been re-zoned. All the additional development was not going to put much additional strain on the infrastructure (according to the geniuses whose idea it was) because the fresh imports would all dutifully use the train …

    … which they haven’t done and instead the main arterial roads in the development areas are now carparks at rush hour and very busy at most other hours. Of course, it doesn’t end there because several local roads nearby have become rat-runs for frustrated locals and once quiet streets that were safe for children to cycle/play on are thoroughfares for angry and impatient commuters.

    Not to worry though, I’m sure the denizens of the North Shore are in safe hands.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      The north shore is already stuffed …….when my children were growing up there my enduring memories is one of GREEN,GREEN and more GREEN …….Summer afternoons cycling tree lined streets ……and the smell of flowers in the air …… the appartments line the Pacific highway and are slowing creeping down all the side streets ……and the blocks are huge and cheap and nasty looking …..the streets are full of parked cars from said apartments ………..and at 4 pm the place is a constant snarl of cars around what were once village shopping centres …………we have lost forever a paradise and it’s never coming back ………and that’s progress ……and it should be brought to point Piper and Vaucluse forthwith !

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Wait on a second! If more people show up maybe the mighty North Sydney Bears can get some players and back to the top league. Pretty sure Mario Fenech would be up for a gallop.

        Manly filth will probably steal everything again though.

      • Yep, and what’s ironic is that, rather than go into reverse to reflect the decline of the area, prices head to the stratosphere instead.

        Still, at least it means that all those who choose to leave can do so with a chunk of cash

  11. Go Lucy. By introducing the prospect of bringing more people to the North Shore, you just might start to wake people up. The Local Mayors ( who are closest politicians to their constituents ) will feel the heat and may, just may force the Feds to allow a debate.

  12. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “This is why it is time for Sydney’s working classes to rise up against the deliberate mass immigration that is adding to competition in the labour market, driving-up housing costs, and lowering overall livability, all for the benefit of the wealthy elite.”

    F#ck me dead, Leith! I didn’t know you were a old school “Labor man”!,… welcome aboard Brother!
    If I knew the SAP was full of “Tony Benn lefties” I maybe would have joined them, Instead of the ALP!

  13. Too late. The damage to Sydney is already locked in. All we have left is righteous anger and the diigust of our kids that we allowed it to occur