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A billionaire dairy farming family that owns vast swaths of land near the new Western Sydney Airport is lobbying for extensions of metro lines and says it can help the state government fast-track the rail projects.
The Perich family’s Greenfields Development Company cites “obvious gaps” in the rail network being links between Leppington and the planned city of Bradfield near the new airport, as well as from Bradfield to Oran Park and Macarthur in the south-west.
Tony Perich, right, and his son Mark at their large dairy farm near Western Sydney Airport.Credit: James Brickwood
“There is neither a timing commitment nor a budget commitment to either extension of the network,” Greenfields said in a submission to a NSW upper house inquiry into western Sydney’s public transport needs.
“Concerningly, the areas through which these rail lines will run are expected to produce over 300,000 additional residents … in the next 20 years. This gap in the network needs to be filled.”
Greenfields is the largest developer in Sydney’s south-west, and construction of a rail line from Bradfield to Oran Park and Macarthur would cut through the Perich family’s large landholdings in the area.
“We will be progressively developing the areas adjoining the corridor [to Oran Park] in the next 15-20 years and believe we are able to help the government bring forward planning and delivery of this part of the rail line,” Greenfields general manager Mick Owens said in the submission.
The $11 billion airport metro rail line from St Marys to Bradfield via the new airport is due to open in 2026. Credit: Janie Barrett
Tony Perich and his family are ranked 31st on The Australian Financial Review’s rich list with $3.03 billion. His sons, Mark and Wayne, are directors of Greenfields, which is developing Oran Park, and the family is one of the largest landowners near the airport.
The state government has made no commitment for extensions to the $11 billion metro rail line under construction from St Marys to Bradfield via the new airport beyond funding business cases to investigate them.
In the lead-up to the March state election, Labor pledged to work on business cases for an extension of the airport metro line from Bradfield to Macarthur, and northwards from St Marys to Tallawong, where a station on the existing Metro Northwest rail line is located.
However, it ditched the previous government’s plans to proceed with business cases to connect the new airport line to a Metro West station at Westmead, or an extension of the problem-plagued Metro Southwest from Bankstown to Glenfield.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Jo Haylen said the government would consider the recommendations of a review it had commissioned into Sydney’s metro rail lines before making any further decisions regarding Metro West and associated projects.
Work on a final business case jointly funded by the state and federal governments for an extension of the airport metro line from Bradfield to Glenfield remains ongoing.
A criticism of recently built train lines such as the Metro Northwest from Rouse Hill to Chatswood is that landowners made windfall profits from a surge in property values as a result of the publicly funded works.
The Minns government has left open the possibility of imposing levies – often referred to as value capture – on developers and other large landowners who benefit from the uplift in property values due to major infrastructure.
Councils are also urging the government to extend rail lines amid forecasts that western Sydney’s population will rise from 2.5 million to 3 million by 2036.
Campbelltown City Council has decried the lack of commitment from the state to build a metro line from the airport to Macarthur, and a “relatively short” link to Glenfield.
It described the principle of 30-minute city as a fallacy for most of its residents. In a submission to the inquiry it noted that many locals could not access their closest railway station within half an hour.
Canterbury-Bankstown Council is pushing the government to commit to extending the Metro City and Southwest line from Bankstown to Liverpool, arguing that forced interchanges at Bankstown station will deter people from using public transport.
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