Sydney lockdown a 'tale of two cities'

Sydney’s lockdown has been “a tale of two cities”, an economic summit has heard, with people in its west suffering the most and being supported the least.

© Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS Jobs and businesses in western Sydney have been hit much harder than in other parts of the city.

Speaking at a virtual summit on Western Sydney’s economic recovery on Wednesday, Accenture Managing Director Andrew Charlton said the data painted a “devastating picture”.

Jobs in western Sydney have been impacted twice as much as those in other parts of the city, small businesses have been hit much harder, and disaster payments are missing lots of people, he said.

Job creation was down 54 per cent in the city’s west, compared to 29 per cent in it east, while small business turnover dropped 35 per cent in western Sydney but ticked up marginally in eastern Sydney.

Slightly more government assistance was going to the west, he noted, but likely not enough to compensate for “the massive impacts” on the area.

Women were particularly vulnerable, the data showed, with men 50 per cent more likely to be getting government support than women despite them wearing the brunt of job losses.

West and southwest Sydney are also home to the majority of the city’s essential workers, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns pointed out, most of whom are unable to work from home.

And yet the same regions had borne the brunt of the restrictions as well as the overwhelming number of COVID cases.

“This lockdown is a tale of two cities, of Sydney divided,” he said, opening the meeting.


Video: Analysis: NSW COVID-19 numbers (Sky News Australia)

“We all owe the people of west and south western Sydney a debt for the sacrifices they’ve made during the pandemic.

“We owe them a chance to bounce back and get on their feet again.”

The recovery from lockdown actually provides an opportunity to improve life in western Sydney, Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Chairman Chris Brown said.

“If we don’t come out of the pandemic smarter, richer, cleaner, fairer than we went in, then what a way to dishonour those who suffered though it,” he said.

He called for a reallocation of infrastructure spending to projects in the area to drive up employment and boost the local economy.

Social housing projects could do the same, NSW Council of Social Services chief executive Joanna Quilty said.

“One of the key issues here is overcrowding, our most pervasive but hidden form of homelessness,” she said.

“The NSW government can reverse the situation and stimulate the economy at the same time.”

An investment of 1.8 billion for example – a fraction of the stamp duty windfall from the state’s private housing boom – would deliver 5000 social housing units and support 18,000 construction jobs, she said.

The summit convened as Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the curfew on hotspot areas – predominantly in the city’s west and southwest – would be dropped amid backlash.

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