The prime minister’s wife Lucy Turnbull has caused outrage by claiming Sydney is far from full. Her comments come after an array of politicians and public figures called on the government to halt immigration to Australia under the premise that there isn’t enough room.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Turnbull, who is head of the Greater Sydney Commission, said there was plenty of room in Sydney for more people, despite growing traffic congestion on the roads and freeways and the public transport network buckling as more people call the harbour city home.
A spokesperson for Lucy Turnbull told Starts at 60 that her comments reflected the Greater Sydney Region Plan.
“I totally understand that Ray and his listeners have alternative viewpoints based on their own experiences, but Lucy’s comments reflect the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the Commission’s work to bring unprecedented collaboration to land use, transport and infrastructure planning,” the spokesperson said.
Turnbull said Australia’s largest city has been growing since 1788 and the city needs to plan properly to make room for everyone.
Her comments outraged 2GB radio host Ray Hadley, who vented his frustration on his show on Tuesday morning.
“With all due respect Mrs Turnbull, it might not be full at Point Piper, but come out to south-west and western Sydney, love, and you’ll see it’s more than full,” he said. “It’s okay for you to catch your train from there out to Parramatta where your office is based and enjoy going against the traffic and against the volume of public transport traffic coming into the city because you’re going from east out to west, not west into the city.”
He offered to chauffeur her around the city to show her the areas of Sydney that he says are bursting at the seams.
“I’ll take you to north-west Sydney, I’ll take you to western Sydney, I’ll take you to south-western Sydney,” he said. “I’ll show you the explosion of many high-rise apartments, particularly in my area.”
He said the boom of high-rises are “unwanted” and that children no longer have anywhere to play because suburbs are full of apartments.
Hadley received a full board of open line callers, all of whom disagreed with Turnbull’s comments. He said he wanted to send the clip directly to Turnbull and the Greater Sydney Commission.
One caller said he used to be able to get to the city in 20 minutes, but a regular commute these days can take up to an hour and twenty minutes. Another said there were fights to get carparks, while one firefighter claimed increased traffic was putting lives at risk.
Turnbull’s comments contradict those of many in the public eye. One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has previously said anyone wanting to come to Australia should be forced to “prove themselves” by learning English. She continually calls for tougher border laws.
Earlier this year, former prime minister Tony Abbott launched an unofficial campaign for tougher immigration laws, saying high immigration numbers puts extra pressure on housing availability and wages. Meanwhile, immigration minister Peter Dutton recently said it was a “no brainer” to force all migrants who want to live in Australia to learn the English language. Their sentiments were echoed by Dick Smith who wants immigration levels capped at 70,000 a year.
According to Australia’s official parliamentary library, the current migration rate is between 180,000 and 190,000 per year.