Digital and physical connectivity underpin the success of the Six Cities Region, connecting people within, between and beyond the six cities. Today I’m discussing what a connected city region looks like with our Chief Commissioner Geoff Roberts.
Geoff, firstly I would like to talk about the vision of connecting the region across the north-south and east-west axes. Can you talk to the opportunities this will enable?
The Commission's vision for a connected Six Cities Region extends across the dimensions of short term, medium term and long term. And we really need to get all three of those dimensions right.
We want universal, high speed, digital access for all residents in the short term. In the medium term, our three seaports and three international passenger airports will operate as a system of global economic gateways, and in the longer term, fast rail will connect our coastal cities to the north and south, intersecting in the Central River City, so jobs and housing can be distributed more evenly.
So a whole world of opportunity is opened up by better transport and digital connections, meaning we'll have stronger links to international and domestic markets and will be more attractive to workforce talent because they can choose where they want to live close to accessible, affordable housing.
The Six Cities Region Discussion Paper outlines a 20 year vision for fast rail. Could you take us through the benefits of fast rail for people living in the Six Cities Region?
The city shaping potential of fast rail is absolutely enormous. It's not just about the railway line itself. It's really about people in the Six Cities Region having easier access to more affordable and diverse housing options, social connections, a wider variety of jobs, and more beautiful places to live.
It's got the obvious benefit of faster and more reliable journey times, but for me, a fast rail network represents choice. We can have a greater variety of jobs and industries working on the attributes of each of the six cities. We can alleviate development pressures on environmentally vulnerable areas.
Look at the impact of flooding and bushfires that we've had in the last few years, and we'll have better access to our education and training facilities. The vulnerabilities of supply chains really came to the fore during the pandemic. How important is a well-functioning freight and airport network to the region?
The importance of this can't be overstated. We need efficient freight movements within the Six Cities Region and between the Six Cities Region, New South Wales and the international ports, airports and logistics hubs. And therefore we will be able to grow local and New South Wales economies.
There's a real opportunity here to integrate existing infrastructure between our ports, airports and freight systems so they genuinely work as a system. Our ports and airports need to work together so we can integrate our freight network and face the world in a more efficient way.
I'd like to finish our conversation by talking about digital connectivity and the vision that everyone in the region is connected within a nanosecond. What difference will that make to people's lives?
Providing universal fast data connectivity across the entire city region will provide more choice in where people live and work. So the pandemic compounded the digital divide because we relied on internet access for essential services and education. So we need to bridge that divide for social equity reasons, but also to lift innovation and productivity.
Thank you, Geoff.