2010 Business Partnership Candidates Forum

(6pm 24 July 2012, Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst)

Good evening. First I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities that make up our city.

This election is about the future of our City - whether we continue to have progressive stable government by a Team with a record for getting things done.

I lead a Team of residents and business people for the 2012 election, many of whom are here tonight. I invite them to stand and I encourage you to meet them.

We are committed to working with you to build on the achievements of the past eight years and to continue transforming our City for the future.

We have created new parks, such as Harmony Park in Surry Hills, Pirrama Park in Pyrmont and the stunning Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

Hyde Park, Frog Hollow Reserve, Ward Park, Shannon Reserve, Lacrozia Playground, Albert Sloss Reserve, Surrey Street Playground, Cook and Phillip Park Pool, and Andrew Boy Charlton Pool are just a few of the local parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities we've renewed— with Prince Alfred Park Pool soon to be finished.

We've improved village mainstreets with new paving, trees and gardens (including Stanley and Oxford Streets), and begun work on Crown and Cleveland Streets.

Our award-winning Surry Hills Library and Community Centre is attracting new visitors with innovative night time programming, and early next year the Eternity Playhouse will open in the Burton Street Tabernacle. It will provide a much-needed intimate theatre space, with many theatre goers likely to dine or shop locally.

We've an economic development unit at the City, with a local Village Business Partnership Grant program and precinct coordinators to support business associations. This year, we funded the "Main Drag" event to boost local business in conjunction with Mardi Gras.

We also support business groups and small business through seminars, newsletters and targeted grants programs—and coordinate and fund the popular annual Business Awards to promote local, small and medium business.

And we've championed small bars, leading to a renaissance in live music as well as providing a cool place for people to meet.

We care for our diverse communities, giving free rates to pensioners, expanding aged and community services, and increasing childcare places by 32 per cent. We do more for homeless people than any other council in Australia.

Our street maintenance, cleaning and waste collection, including increased levels of recycling, is the envy of people in other council areas.

We invest in the City's cultural life and creativity, including major festivals such as Mardi Gras, which is vitally important to this area, New Years Eve, Sydney Festival, Chinese New Year, Art & About, and more.

We are making affordable spaces available in our properties, enabling new artists and creative enterprises to establish themselves. This includes activating spaces in our Oxford Street properties—and we will soon be providing more at 101-111 and 113-115 William Street.

All of this, and more, has been achieved with balanced budgets every year and investments to finance major projects over the next 10 years.

We've developed Sustainable Sydney 2030 - our long-term plan - after comprehensive consultation with our diverse communities to ensure we play our role in addressing climate change.

We are about to sign a contract with Origin Energy to introduce low carbon precincts to take the city off the coal-fired electricity grid. We've reduced waste, improved water and energy performance, greened our city with 7000 trees planted over eight years, and provided healthy and sustainable transport options.

This includes our increasingly popular bike network, and car share and we are dedicating $180M to support light rail down George Street—as the beginning of a network which I hope would also include a route down Oxford Street to the east and to the new town centre at Green Square in the south.

Oxford Street is one of our major village centres and light rail would contribute to its renewal. In the meantime, we are working on a proposal to calm traffic and make Oxford Street more attractive.

This would reduce Oxford Street to five lanes, with one lane switched each morning and afternoon peak, as happens on the Harbour Bridge.

This could be implemented quickly and cheaply, and could allow for light rail in the future. Studies show that traffic on Oxford Street has decreased, but speeded up, making it less pleasant for pedestrians.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for this proposal at the Oxford Street Roundtable I hosted last Wednesday. We will need your support to get the State Government to see the benefits for local businesses and implement it.

This election is important. The Independent Team's work to transform Sydney into a progressive, exciting, tolerant city could be under threat by the major political parties or vested interests.

The Independent Team I lead is committed to innovative solutions for tough city problems. We have a proven record championing our communities and we will continue to deliver practical results.