Nicholas Whitlam’s expertise in infrastructure development initially came as a financier of infrastructure, rising to become CEO of the State Bank of NSW in 1981, and a co-founder – with future Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – of the investment bank Whitlam Turnbull.
‘I have been aware of SMART since it was first announced, and I have been very interested in infrastructure since my banking days – financing motorways, coal mines, even golf resorts and the like and the transport around them,’ he said.
More recently, Whitlam has been heavily involved in the ports sector, serving as the chairman of all three of the state’s port corporations prior to their 2014 amalgamation as the Port Authority of NSW which now chairs.
As chairman of the Port Kembla Port Corporation he was active in the expansion of the port. This sparked his interest in the land side road and rail linkages and in particular the long-delayed Maldon to Dombarton rail link – initially designed to provide freight access from Port Kembla to the main Southern Line, but more recently reborn as a dual passenger line.
‘One of the biggest costs for most businesses is tax, which is why businesses spend so much time minimising it, but another major cost is time due to delays,’ Whitlam said.
‘Even in our own lives, we can see from the willingness of motorists to pay tolls the value that we place on or own time .
‘Good transport infrastructure is about creating both predictability and certainty.’
Whitlam has lived in the Illawarra since 2004 after owning a holiday house in the region for some years before that.
Appointments to the SMART Advisory Council are for three-year terms. Members are drawn from government, industry and academia and chosen for their expertise and interest in the infrastructure domain.