Gillard goes west Day 1

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has kicked off her western Sydney tour with an announcement of a plan for western Sydney last night and started travelling around the region with a visit to Wanderers training this morning.

Our reporters and photographers will be following her around during the visit and documenting her travels. 

We will be asking her your questions. What would you like to ask the PM? Tell us below.

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Read our timeline of her activities in western Sydney, so far, below:

5pm: ON THE STREET: Reporter Sally Willoughby and photographer Carlos Furtado asked people on the street what they think about Prime Minister Julia Gillard's visit to western Sydney this week and what they would ask her if they had the chance.

Keith Lowry, Winston Hills: ''She's damned if she does and damned if she doesn't really.''

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Carla Simpson, Seven Hills: "It think it's good she's trying to help and see how life is in western Sydney. But there's still a lack of jobs and my partner has a disability and I don't feel she's done enough for people with a disability.''

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Baki Kuroz, Blacktown: ''I think she's wasting her time. I would say don't stuff the western suburbs like you've done to the country. I would ask what she has to offer the people of western Sydney?''

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4pm: Greenway MP Michelle Rowland and Ms Gillard are having a closed meeting with the Catholic Education office at Rooty Hill.

3.45pm: Ms Gillard has just left the cabinet meeting at Blacktown Council chambers.

Her media commitments and travels around western Sydney are over for today.

We understand she will be back on the road, visiting various destinations around western Sydney as of tomorrow.

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Again, we are not sure of her exact schedule, but we will keep you posted and will be following her tomorrow.

Where do you think the PM should visit next? Tell us what you think below.

2.50pm: We've been told that the meeting at Blacktown Council is only a meeting between the cabinet ministers and not open to anyone else.

A crowd of media has followed the PM all day.

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2pm: Our reporter Nick Soon has written the following about the cabinet meeting in Blacktown: 

Five Blacktown councillors including mayor Len Robinson are attending a conference in Melbourne instead of welcoming Prime Minister Julia Gillard for a cabinet meeting at Blacktown Council this afternoon.

Acting mayor Russ Dickens told this website he wouldn’t be welcoming the Prime Minister as he only learnt about it from the Sunday at 1pm.

He said on checking he learnt rookie Liberal councillor Mark Holmes would be presenting some flowers to her on their behalf.

‘‘I won’t be attending as I don’t want to play second fiddle,’’ he said.

Most councillors only found out about the Prime Minister’s visit to the council late today.

The five councillors attending the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) conference until Thursday are Crs Robinson, Alan Pendleton, Charlie Lowles, Walter Smith and Karlos Siljeg.

1.40pm: Opinion is running hot on Twitter, as usual. Many western Sydney residents and media identities are tweeting about the exaggerated focus on western Sydney this week. 

1.30pm: Our reporter, Sally Willoughby, is heading out to meet the Prime Minister for the community cabinet now. 

Here is what the Prime Minister told her in a sit down interview earlier today:

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard said job creation, easing the cost of living pressures and infrastructure are her top priorities for residents in western Sydney.

With an expected 350,000 jobs shortfall in western Sydney by 2050 Ms Gillard said she was committed to supporting jobs and Australian workers.

She said focusing on winning more of the work that’s available now would boost jobs in the region including benefiting from the mining boom.

‘‘These huge mining projects in construction... work can spill over across the country,’’ Ms Gillard said.

‘‘They want everything from tables and chairs to reliable food services ... and western Sydney can do a lot of that work.’’

Ms Gillard said the government also wanted to ensure businesses get the work that will flow out of the changes in the Asian region.

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She said that meant Australia needed to be innovators.

‘‘People are only going to buy things from Australia... if we’re the best or unique which is why we want to bring innovation and business closer together."

She hopes the precincts that will bring business and innovators closer together would be in western Sydney.

With the number of small businesses in western Sydney Ms Gillard said they government was also focused on ways to allow them to grow.

She said making finance available and installing infrastructure like the National Broadband network would help that.

1pm: Blacktown councillors have told us they didn't know about the cabinet meeting, Ms Gillard plans to hold in their council chambers at 2pm today. 

Five of the councillors, including Mayor Len Robinson are away at a conference.

12.30pm: The Committee for Sydney has welcomed the federal Government’s support for the WestConnex project, but warned against the vital piece of infrastructure becoming a political football in an election year.

The committee's strategic advisor Michelle Washington said it was crucial the project remained part of an overarching strategic plan to revitalise the Parramatta Road corridor.

"This project must be as much about the transformation of Parramatta road into a highly desirable place to live and do business as it is to move goods and people around Sydney," Ms Washington said.

"It is too early for politicians to be deciding the route and shape of WestConnex on the back of an envelope.

 “It’s extremely important that the design of this project does not become a tug of war between state and federal government."


She said the committee will call for a dedicated body tasked with developing and delivering the project.

"The corridor plan should maximise the existing government investment in the area such as the Sydney Olympic Park, Dulwich Hill light rail extensions and the airport rail link between the city and the airport," she said.

“Sydney has waited too long for this. We have to get it right.”

11:40am: PM heading to the Spoons restaurant on Main Street, Blacktown for lunch.

It is expected that she will be holding a cabinet meeting at the Blacktown Council building from 2pm. 

Which pressing western Sydney issues should be discussed at the meeting? Tell us below. Or take our survey:

10.30am: Ms Gillard holding a press conference at the Light Horse Interchange.

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She announced that the federal government would be ready to inject more funding to the WestConnex project if the State Government developed a plan which would connect the M4 with the city.

Ms Gillard said the government would be ready to put forward a funding offer for the project on the proviso that WestConnex would link the M4 with the city.

She said it was also essential that the road remains toll-less and freight is allowed into Port Botany.

Ms Gillard said traffic congestion in Sydney is a big problem, with people spending too much time in their cars.

She said most people are leaving early and getting home late, usually leaving before their kids have had breakfast and coming back after they've had tea.

The funding would be provided as soon at the O'Farrell government develops a plan which ticks all the boxes, in addition to the $25 million already provided for the project's planning, Ms Gillard said. 

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the M4 stops at Strathfield which is "not good enough".

He said the solution isn't to build just a little bit more, it has to be built all the way into the city.

9.40am: PM at Light Horse Interchange at the corner of Wallgrove and Wonderland Roads at Eastern Creek to make an announcement about roads funding.

She told Channel 9's Karl Stefanovic this morning that she spoke about WestConnex yesterday and it is an important infrastructure project for the people of western Sydney. 

It has been reported that she will pledge $1.5 billion in funding for the project.

"But I want to see a plan that actually gets people to the city, gets freight to the port, and make sure people don’t pay tolls on roads they currently get to use for free," she said.

"Too many times people are just stuck in traffic, not going to get home to see their kids while their kids are still up, losing too much of their day in the transit to and from work.

"So I want to see that made easier, but that does require a plan that actually moves people to where they need to go, and moves freight to where it needs to get to."

She also addressed speculation of another leadership challenge.

9am: Ms Gillard is now at Ability Options at Seven Hills, touring the facility. 

Matt Donnelly from Ability Options greeted Ms Gillard and welcomed her to the centre.

She spoke about the National Disability Insurance Scheme starting in seven weeks. 

The Prime Minister then met staff. Employees Joshua, Hailey and Janet who are part of the centre's social media team asked Ms Gillard if she would follow them on Twitter and Facebook. 

She asked them how they became interested in social media. Janet said she was surprised Ms Gillard was visiting western Sydney and her workplace and that she felt nervous about speaking with her. 

7.30am: Television interviews with Breakfast program hosts Karl Stefanovic and David Koch.

She told Mr Koch she was not worried about the polls indicating that her visit to western Sydney was futile, because voters had already turned their backs on her.

"I am here for the same reasons I've come to western Sydney in the past," Ms Gillard said.

"This is a big region, home to 1.6 million people, 120,000 businesses. 

"If you carved it out ... it would have the third biggest economy in Australia and just like when I've come in the past, it's an opportunity to immerse yourself, to get to say hello to people, see what is on their minds, and also talk to them about what the government is doing in this region and around the country to build their future."

Monday, 7am: PM visits Western Sydney Wanderers training and receives a jersey from the team. 

Sunday, 5pm: Speech at University of Western Sydney, Parramatta to present plan for western Sydney including announcing a special task force to deal with gang and drug crime.

Below is a picture of Ms Gillard with some young female fans at the event.

The Prime Minister's schedule has not been released at this stage, but we will keep updating our coverage as we find out more.

Where do you think Ms Gillard should go next?

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