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A ‘fair go’ for the West, but is outer Sydney good enough for News Corp?

As News Corp champions western Sydney, where it sells 25% of its total NSW circulation, it’s moving its journalists to to the CBD. Long-time western Sydney resident Mark Latham is sceptical.

The Daily Telegraph has turned its regular championing of the needs of western Sydney into a formal, mammoth campaign. Over 57 days, the paper will run regular stories on the western suburbs and the need for more investment, at least if this week if anything to go by. It’s aided by a raft of commercial partners, such as the National Australia Bank, NRMA Road Services, Harvey Norman and Crown Resorts …

Fair Go For the West

In the release announcing the campaign, Tele editor Paul Whittaker said western Sydney was short-changed when it comes to funding, infrastructure spending and transport, medical services and hospitals:

If it isn’t good enough for Western Sydney, it isn’t good enough for NSW and it isn’t good enough for Australia.”

But long-time western Sydney resident and former Labor leader Mark Latham is sceptical, telling Crikey the point of it is, ultimately, to sell more papers. Western Sydney is, after all, Tele heartland, as News Corp NSW director Brett Clegg put it. More than a quarter of NSW’s entire News Corp circulation is sold to the region.

Latham questions how much some of the campaign’s backers actually know about western Sydney. “I think I saw James’ [Packer] yacht zooming down the Nepean River last week,” he joked. “But seriously, for the people who own these corporations and work for the Tele, their Fair Go for the West stops at Annandale [5 kilometres from the CBD].”

Last year News Corp consolidated most of its Sydney staff into its Holt Street headquarters and was expected to sell an office in Parramatta, according to The Australian. Its financial share services division is still based in Parramatta, but most of its journalists have been moved to Holt Street, which, according to an internal email, “provides employees with easy access to public transport links and all the amenities of Surry Hills including restaurants, bars, cafes, parks and theatres”.

Over the years, News Corp has fought persistent rumours that it’s considering moving the Daily Tele’s office to Parramatta in the heart of the west, although it did gain development permission to expand one of its Parramatta sites in 2011 (a company spokesman told Mumbrella the company had decided against the “nascent plans” for a Parramatta media centre). Crikey hears, but was unable to confirm, that Whittaker may have had something to do with this — apparently he fought “tooth and nail” to stop the Tele being moved out West.

If the Tele isn’t based in western Sydney, are any of the corporate sponsors who lent their weight to the campaign?

Crown Resorts chairman James Packer is building a $2 billion casino resort in Barangaroo for the region’s high rollers, but he hasn’t forgotten about western Sydney, the Tele assures us. He’s “setting up a $10 million hotel, business and food academy in Penrith” that will train young people to work at Barangaroo. Crikey hopes they’re willing to move, or at least put up with long commutes.

NRMA chief executive Tony Stuart says in an opinion piece that his company moved much of its operations to North Strathfield at the foot of the M4 motorway in the inner west more than a decade ago. He says the head offices of government departments should also move west, “because if calling western Sydney home is good enough for the NRMA … it’s good enough for the Director-General of Treasury, Transport, Planning or the Department of Premier and Cabinet”. NRMA’s head office, mind you, is at York Street in the CBD, we presume for the same reason the head offices of government departments are in the CBD.

NAB’s headquarters are in Melbourne, but Harvey Norman at least does have some cred on this. It’s headquarters are in Homebush West.

The west, Sydney’s demographic centre in many ways, is in dire need of more investment. But maybe the call by publishers and corporates to pay it more heed would carry more weight if more of them practiced what they preached.

10
  • 1
    Pete from Sydney
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    More than a quarter of NSW’s entire News Corp circulation is sold to the region so presumably 3/4’s isn’t sold in the west? Sort marries up with the four quadrants of the compass really…

  • 2
    Northy
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Myriam for once again pointing out the breathtaking double standards of News Corp. Paul Whittaker’s agenda ‘for Sydney’ is so incredibly misguided. And his rallying cries to get government and business to move west have zero credibility when he apparently fought so hard to remain in inner-Sydney Surry Hills.

  • 3
    Pete from Sydney
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    to be fair Northy, the company’s headquarters are in Surry Hills, that’s print, digital and everything else…and as pointed out previously 75% of the Tele’s circulation is not in the West. And I’m not entirely sure how ‘we’re for Sydney’ is incredibly misguided for a Sydney based newspaper. But feel free to bash News on this beat-up of a story

  • 4
    Phen
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Fair go for the West” eh? Was disappointed to find it isn’t News Corp campaign to end the massive subsidisation of the East Coast of Australia by Western Australian GST receipts.

  • 5
    AR
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Phen - please go back to your hatchery at Catlaxitive.

  • 6
    klewso
    Posted Saturday, 12 April 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Sop the Votes”?

  • 7
    Northy
    Posted Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Pete - it’s misguided because Paul Whittaker’s plans for Sydney revolve around more roads, and a second airport - with lots of roads around it. And that’s about it. Oh, and of course strong support (actually make that cringe-inducing worship) for Packer’s casino. It’s awful stuff. Very contrived. They also incite hatred towards cyclists. Thankfully the NSW government ignored their ridiculous anti bike lane campaign.

  • 8
    Northy
    Posted Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    They should move the whole of News Corp HQ out west! If it’s good enough for the various government departments and businesses they are bullying into moving out there.

  • 9
    Karen
    Posted Monday, 14 April 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    The west is just a useful idiot for Newscorp - soothe and manipulate it to vote for a government that serves the interests of News Corp. Just like what happened in November 2013. Hypocrites indeed.

  • 10
    Rubio Diego
    Posted Tuesday, 15 April 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see American News Corp move to the west. California should be far enough away!

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