16 October 2015
I met with Mayors in the 100 Resilient Cities network on 1-4 October in Bellagio Italy to explore ways our cities can better respond to acute shocks like earthquakes and severe storms, as well as chronic stresses, such as ageing transport infrastructure and declining housing affordability. Read more
16 October 2015
Australia’s capital cities account for 64 per cent of the nation’s GDP, house over two-thirds of Australia’s workforce, have supplied 1.5 million people with new jobs in the past decade, educate 80 per cent of all tertiary students in the country and are forecast to house another 10 million Australians by 2056 – 72 per cent of all future population growth. Read more
11 September 2015
Last week I was pleased to launch the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre’s Art from the Heart of the Cross exhibition. The project aims to provide a safe and positive avenue for self-expression to those who use the Centre’s services. Read more
25 August 2015
Yesterday I appeared at the final hearing of the Legislative Council Inquiry into Local Government.
The Inquiry may be our last opportunity to get the process of worthwhile local government reform back on track Read more
21 August 2015
For over a century, successive state governments have sought to ensure the City of Sydney Council has had a complementary political makeup. To make the City winnable they have changed its boundaries, sacked the Council and altered electoral franchise. Read more
13 August 2015
On Tuesday night I helped launch the Surry Hills Creative Precinct. Surry Hills has some of the best “cool” in Sydney, with a lively mix of restaurants, cafes, bars and businesses. It’s great to see local businesses form a group to work together and continue this area’s growth. Read more
7 August 2015
This morning I joined Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, to announce a new joint protocol to help homeless people during severe weather emergencies. Read more
16 July 2015
The City has been working on two action plans that will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and increase employment opportunities. The first, our inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), has just been endorsed by Council. Read more
15 July 2015
I was delighted to announce Guy and Jules Sebastian as our 2015 Christmas ambassadors this week. The City will work closely with Guy and Jules as well as our corporate partners, retailers and the media to make Sydney a must-visit destination this Christmas. Read more
8 July 2015
Today’s Daily Telegraph misrepresents the nature of a development approval endorsed at Council over a week ago. The DA requirement to prepare a Travel Plan for customers and staff does not set a precedent for other businesses, does not add onerous red tape and has the full support of the owner. Read more
9 June 2015
This week started with two pieces of positive international climate action news: The G7 announced an agreement to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century; and new figures show China’s emissions will peak five years earlier than expected. Read more
2 June 2015
It’s great that people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of keeping e-waste out of landfill. Computer screens and TVs contain toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury and arsenic, which can leach out from landfills and into waterways. Read more
29 May 2015
The Bays Community Coalition is hosting a community workshop on 7 June to discuss the current plan for the future development of the Bays Precinct. This is your opportunity to learn more about the project and respond to UrbanGrowth NSW’s call for great ideas to shape the future redevelopment of the Bays Precinct. Read more
28 May 2015
The City is strongly opposed to the closure of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo and we have passed a resolution to that effect, while saying we also strongly support the expansion of much-needed cultural facilities in western and south-western Sydney. Read more
19 May 2015
Sydney Writers’ Festival officially kicks off tonight with an opening address by author Mohsin Hamid titled, “Life in the Time of Permawar”. SWF may be held over just one week, but this annual festival gives us food for thought and matters to debate for months to come. Read more
30 April 2015
Last night I was pleased to launch “Top5Feet” as the first of this year’s Art & About artworks, in one of the city’s much-loved spaces.
28 April 2015
The $15 billion WestConnex toll road project is the largest transport project in Australia’s history. Despite this, the NSW Government has still not released traffic modelling, Environmental Impact Statements or a business case for the road project. Read more
31 March 2015
Today I unveiled Yininmadyemi, an artwork which celebrates and commemorates our Indigenous service men and women. Aboriginal artist Tony Albert’s work features four seven-metre tall, 1.5 tonne bullets and three fallen shells to represent the diggers who returned to Australia and the ones who lost their lives. Read more
26 March 2015
Sydney is a city of villages offering a rich variety of tastes, cultures and experiences. Each community offers something unique, with iconic destinations and a distinctive style, from the historic to the hip. Read more
19 March 2015
Reports this week of another attempt by the SCG Trust to take over Moore Park would destroy precious parkland. It’s now clear why the O’Farrell and Baird Governments wasted $38 million on a bridge over Anzac Parade – to enable the commercialisation of even more public land in Moore Park East and Moore Park West.
9 March 2015
WestConnex claims to link people with jobs, improve freight transport and allow urban renewal. But here are the facts:
WestConnex is a return to last century’s discredited thinking that motorways are the solution to our city’s transport needs.
WestConnex is supposed to help Western Sydney residents get to jobs in Sydney’s centre. It will do the opposite – worsen traffic congestion and divert funds from already crowded public transport used by most Western Sydney commuters to get to the CBD. The freight movement objectives of WestConnex are already redundant and it will do nothing to revitalise Parramatta Road.
WestConnex is a tunnel to a traffic jam. An $11.5 billion network of toll roads that will bring thousands more cars into Sydney’s already congested centre. It is the largest road project in Australia’s history.
It’s planned in three parts:
WestConnex is funded by the State and Federal Governments, and by tolls on motorists. Commuters will pay more, including tolls on previously toll-free roads.
The 3rd stage and a planned connection to Sydney Airport and Port Botany are not currently funded despite their critical role in delivering the project’s stated objectives.
Tell the NSW Government and Opposition to look to the future, not the past. Tell Premier Mike Baird and Roads Minister Duncan Gay you don’t want WestConnex.
Hashtag your messages #WestConnex.
2 March 2015
A new book from the Grattan Institute reaffirms what we’ve known for some time – that poor planning and investment by state and federal governments has had detrimental effects on our cities.
By concentrating jobs in our inner cities, but neglecting the affordable housing or public transport that many workers need, governments have locked people into a lifestyle of long commutes to work that is dependent on cars.
25 February 2015
On Monday the City of Sydney received the independent report into WestConnex which I called for in December.
The report by SGS Economics shows that the $11.5 billion WestConnex project will not deliver for Western Sydney, taxpayers or the travelling public. Instead of 1950′s projects like WestConnex, the Government should be investing in public transport. Read more
13 February 2015
For generations, Kings Cross has been a lively and cosmopolitan place. In recent years, its reputation as a great place to go at night, coupled with the growth of beer barns and strip joints, gave rise to street violence and a deteriorating quality for residents and those who wanted to enjoy all else it offers. Read more
26 January 2015
This week I was saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Uren AC. Tom Uren was a Parliamentarian for 31 years, Minister in the Whitlam and Hawke Governments, former prisoner of war and lifelong advocate for peace, human rights and the urban and natural environment. Read more
9 January 2015
That’s a decade of strong, stable, corruption-free Independent leadership, from a progressive, efficient and outcome-focused organisation, with a long-term vision for our city’s future and $1.9 billion budgeted for infrastructure over the next decade. Read more
11 December 2014
For the past two weeks, the United Nations annual climate summit has been meeting in Lima, Peru. This summit is particularly important, as it is the last meeting before the critical Paris climate summit in 2015, where nations will agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Read more
10 December 2014
Today’s Australian newspaper reports that Great Fortune Investment is marketing DeiCorp’s Dei Cota apartments in Redfern to Chinese and Asia buyers with the claim that “the Aboriginals have already moved out”. The reference was on their website but has now been removed. Read more
5 December 2014
As of this weekend, ambassadors will be on standby at a “Safe Space” vehicle as part of a new pilot program to make our City’s entertainment precincts safer. They will offer first aid, water, phone and internet access and transport information to vulnerable young people who may be intoxicated or affected by drugs. Read more
2 December 2014
On Friday night I had the pleasure of opening the NSW Business Chamber’s 2014 State Business Awards in Darling Harbour.
Eleven businesses operating in the City – seven companies, two local chambers, one training college and a museum – were in the running for top honours having won their respective categories at the South East Regional awards in July.
18 November 2014
Sydney’s ongoing engagement in Asia, particularly with China, is a key to maintaining our global standing. This encompasses more than our economic ties. It also extends to civic, social, educational, environmental and cultural links.
20 October 2015
IPART found the City of Sydney ‘meets the scale and capacity criterion as a stand-alone council and would be fit as a stand-alone council’ but declared us unfit when compared to the idea of a Mega City Council – combining Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, Botany and the City. An idea that has no support from the communities involved.
The City of Sydney was ranked against a global city criterion that has no community support or evidence and does not consider the significant transfer of assets and responsibility that would be required from the State Government.
The impact of a forced amalgamation now would risk our 10-year, $1.94 billion infrastructure program as well as $30-40 billion worth of private development over the next decade.
IPART’s report backs up what we’ve always said – the City of Sydney is ‘Fit for the Future’ as a stand-alone council. The report said:
The council satisfies the financial criteria overall. It satisfies the sustainability, infrastructure and service management, and efficiency criteria.
Other data also suggests City of Sydney is a well-run council with significant scale and capacity. It has pro-actively partnered with governments, undertaken significant CBD-based urban renewal, and approved a large range of development projects to grow the CBD.
Our independent auditors Pricewaterhouse Coopers reported to Council last night:
Council is considered to be in a strong and stable financial position. All financial indicators are better than accepted industry benchmarks.
The NSW Government’s own Treasury Corporation (TCorp) rates the City’s financial sustainability as ‘Strong’ with a positive outlook – the only one of 152 NSW Councils to receive this rating.
Over the past 10 years, the City has consistently delivered debt-free budgets, kept residential rates among the lowest in Sydney, and delivered high-quality infrastructure needed by our community and the one million visitors to the city each day.
To say the City of Sydney is somehow unfit in the face of this strong evidence to the contrary makes a mockery of the entire review process, and throws into question all decisions made as a result.
Our community’s made it clear they don’t want to succumb to forced amalgamations, with 80% of residents and 70% of businesses saying they like the boundaries the way they are.
A third of the submissions received by IPART related to the City of Sydney. Just eight of the 520 submissions supported an amalgamation.
18 September 2015
Today, it’s been reported the Shooters Party wants the City of Sydney carved up to create a tiny CBD Council.
It’s hard to see why a couple of elephant shooting cranks who attracted less than half a per cent of the city vote would have any say in what happens with the global city. Until you see their Facebook page (now deleted), where they called me, “one of the most gun-hating politicians anywhere in Australia.”
But the Shooters have forced through shooting in national parks and the legislation that gave business two votes and residents just one - so this latest harebrained scheme has to be taken seriously.
The plan to divide the City of Sydney shows how out of touch the Shooters and Fishers are – while they want to take the city back to the ’70s and ’80s we’re planning for the future. The city is currently undergoing a huge period of accelerated growth and investment. Based on current trends, $30 to $40 billion will be invested in development in our local government area over the next decade.
Contact the Premier, and the Local Government Minister, and let them know that you want the boundaries of the City of Sydney to remain as is.NSW Premier Mike Baird MP Email: email@example.com or via this form: https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/contact-premier-new-south-wales Phone: 02 9976 2773 Twitter: @mikebairdMP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikebairdMP Minister for Local Government Paul Toole MP Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 02 8574 7000 Twitter: @PaulTooleMP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulTooleMP
The Sydney Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against this proposal, describing it as “politics at its worst.”
It’s worth reading the comments from Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Patricia Forsythe, in full because they really cut to the heart of the issue:
The proposed legislation should be rejected by the NSW Government as it has nothing to do with improving the City of Sydney and everything to do with the agenda the Shooters first revealed with their dodgy two votes for business legislation last year.
The argument the Shooters are running, that reduced boundaries would encourage investment by business in the development of the CBD, ignores the fact that the private sector is showing confidence in the future of the city with billions of dollars’ worth of investment including new hotels, commercial and residential buildings already approved or at application stage for the CBD.
The Sydney Business Chamber, and other business groups, advocate for fewer local councils across the Greater Sydney Region, so it would be illogical to propose or support, at the same time, shrinking the boundaries of the CBD.
The City of Sydney’s submission to the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future Inquiry, revealed a council that is providing services for business, big and small, and demonstrated its ability to manage major developments such as Green Square.
If it was broken we would argue for change, but the City of Sydney staff work closely with key business groups on projects that are in the interest of business.
It was regrettable that the NSW Government backed the specific changes to the business vote for the city, introduced by the Shooters, instead of putting up their own proposal and we would urge the Government to consult with business on this proposal.
Excising parts of the city and merging them with adjoining councils ignores the reality that in future years parts of the city that are predominantly residential will represent new commercial centres to support the CBD.
PricewaterhouseCoopers said the City of Sydney is a ‘benchmark against which other councils could be compared.’ The NSW Government’s own Treasury Corporation (T-Corp) rates the City’s finances as ‘strong’ with a ‘positive outlook’ – the only NSW council to receive this rating. There’s just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.
In 2013-2014, the City oversaw $3.95 billion of development, over four times more than the nearest council. Last year we determined 2,677 development applications and their modifications and have consistently been in the top 10 for development application assessment times while processing the highest value and some of the highest numbers of complex applications.
The last time the Liberals shrunk the city council boundaries, the council almost ended up bankrupt. Why risk that happening again when the City’s booming? There’s just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.
If the Premier wants to work out what’s best for the city, he should ask the people who live and work here – unlike the Shooters’ Borsak, we did, and 80% of the City’s residents and 70% of businesses said they like the City of Sydney the way it is.
7 September 2015
(7pm, Cockle Bay Room, Dockside Darling Harbour)
Thank you, Maurene, [Horder, PIA] and good evening, everyone.
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all to Sydney, Australia’s leading city!
Our city generates around $108 billion worth of economic activity. It contributes seven per cent of Australia’s GDP and almost one quarter of the NSW economy.
We are one of the fastest growing residential areas in NSW and in the five years to 2012, we secured 40 per cent of all jobs growth in metropolitan Sydney.
We are responsible for a daily influx of about one million workers and tourists as well as our increasing population densities and we continue to rank highly in international surveys of great cities to live and work. We are the world’s most popular city to study in.
After an investigation into the size of international student populations for its 2014 Global Cities Index, consulting firm AT Kearney put Sydney ahead of 83 other cities, including London and New York.
Sydney is also beginning to be recognised as an innovative city. In a recent ranking of over 200 international cities by the consultancy 2ThinkNow, Sydney jumped several places, out-ranking Melbourne for the first time to be placed 17th in the top 20 innovative cities.
Sydney’s current prosperity is no accident. Sydney today is the outcome of a decade of strong, stable, independent, corruption-free leadership with a long-term vision
When I became Lord Mayor in 2004, I wanted a plan that could continue no matter who was in Town Hall, Macquarie St or Canberra. So we undertook the largest ever community consultation in the City’s history with residents and businesses, government and statutory authorities, visitors, and educational and cultural institutions.
97 per cent of people told us they wanted us to take action on climate change. They also said they want a city with a strong economy, one that supports the arts and connects its people to each other and the world.
Sustainable Sydney 2030 was the result of our consultation and research and it is the cornerstone of everything we do and has won wide support and worldwide acclaim.
At the City we consult and research, we commit and then we do.
We understand that in the 21st century, with mobile global capital and mobile international workforces, exceptional liveability is the key driver for a city’s prosperity and growth.
Our work over the last 11 years has been based on that premise – that a city that works for its residents will also attract investors, entrepreneurs, students, visitors and a skilled, international workforce.
Since 2004, we’ve completed over 250 major projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces. We’re now working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year plan.
We’ve approved around $25 billion worth of high-quality development and significant urban renewal is underway.
Importantly, we put a premium on planning and design excellence for private development as well as for our own projects, and have sought the best professional advice – whether through our Design Advisory Panel, or from internationally recognised experts like Jan Gehl, in shaping Sydney’s future.
We have an innovative design excellence program that requires a competitive design process for all major buildings—a world first.
Through this program, over 100 projects have been awarded bonus floor space for design excellence, and a number have been recognised internationally. In the last ten years, our public infrastructure projects have won over 80 national and international awards.
This remarkable track record has led to our growing reputation and international profile for city design and liveability.
We have protected and improved our residential villages, making them local hubs which offer shops, cafes and recreational areas within walking distance of residents.
We stage events, support festival, instigate strategic planning and we advocate – as we did for light rail.
We’ve developed action plans for retail, tourism, visitor accommodation and tech start-ups. We established a Retail Advisory Panel and we work closely with the NSW Government and Business Events Sydney on tourism and business events.
All these diverse activities are part of our planning for Sydney’s future.
Of course the biggest challenge is climate change but unfortunately, in Australia, we have not had the political leadership we need on this issue from the Federal and State Governments.
The Federal Government’s target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels places us at the back of the pack internationally. We can and must do more.
Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other developed nation and stronger targets are a key part of encouraging other nations to do more.
The community wants us to do more. Recent polling by the Climate Institute found two-thirds of Australians want the Federal Government to do more on climate change, and just under sixty per cent to be a world leader in climate change solutions.
Even though our State and Federal Governments have their heads in the sand on this issue, we are taking action.
At the City we’ve set a goal of a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on 2006 levels for both our own operations and the Local Government Area.
The target is backed by a suite of innovative Master Plans and we are making good progress.
In 2007 we became the first carbon neutral local government in Australia and since that time we’ve reduced our own greenhouse emissions by 21 per cent – next year, it will reach 26 per cent.
Greenhouse emissions across our Local Government Area have fallen by 12 per cent at the same time as we have enjoyed a period of strong economic growth.
Our carbon intensity – the amount of greenhouse emissions for each dollar of economic output – has fallen by almost 30 per cent.
As planners, you have an important role to play in designing our future cities and finding ways to reduce impacts on our environment.
One of those ways is through increased urban development – urbanisation is critical because we can’t keep developing our food basin and we shouldn’t sentence people to a life in the outskirts of suburbia, cut off from effective transport and services.
But it needs to be done right!
I believe the key to a successful global city is one that is environmentally sustainable, provides access to a wider job market, education and other essential services especially transport, is actively serviced with community infrastructure and parks and green spaces with a rich variety of choices and activities; a lively social and cultural life and a safe and diverse night-time culture. A city guided by the principles of design excellence.
Places that are good for people to live are also good places to work and do business.
I hope this conference will inform, inspire and energise you to think about your role in the future of our cities.