CeBIT Opening Plenary

( 8am 22 May 2012, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre)

Thank you, Ticky Fullerton, MC, and good morning, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.

I am pleased to welcome our international visitors, and to acknowledge:

  • The Hon Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology
  • The Hon Barry O'Farrell MP, Premier of NSW
  • H.E. Mr Biren Nanda, High Commissioner, High Commission of India, Canberra
  • Mr Amit Dasgupta, Consul General, Consulate General of India, Sydney
  • International representatives, especially those from the partner country, India.

Sydney is delighted to host the CeBIT Trade Exhibition and Conference for its 11th year in our city. Like all cities, we are focussed on smart growth and the knowledge economy, and building the city as a centre of excellence.

Information technology is the key to such growth and is an increasingly important factor in the economy of Sydney. Our digital community is responsible for 11 per cent of economic output - which suggests we are a natural host for CeBIT!

While much is made of the current resources boom in Australia, the fact is that the City of Sydney equals it in importance. Although small - especially by Indian standards! - the City generates close to eight per cent of Australia's gross domestic product.

Seventy per cent of all banks and other financial institutions in Australia have chosen Sydney as their headquarters. We are also the nation's leading centre for professional and technical services.

We are a major educational centre, attracting over 35,000 international students - including many from India - to the three leading universities within the City itself, or just on its border.

Sydney is also Australia's largest centre for digital, media and telecommunications companies, and of course it's Australia's chief gateway for international tourists and business visitors, and Australia's face to the world.

Throughout its history, Sydney has turned its face out to the world as much as to the continent itself. If not always a "global" city, it has most certainly always been "globally-oriented", from the 18th century township's trade with India to the 19th century's trade in wheat, wool, fisheries, through to today's global service industries.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report looking at the City of Sydney's economy in 2030 named our ties with emerging and developing economies - notably those of India and China - as one of the key drivers of Sydney's future economy, along with the impact of IT advances in transforming the way business operates and the way people live their everyday lives.

The economically successful cities of this century require a range of attributes including:

  • a skilled workforce and a diverse, tolerant and multi-cultural population
  • a creative base to stimulate innovation
  • the financial base to convert ideas into product
  • sustainable infrastructure
  • efficient telecommunications and transport
  • connectivity within the city and with the broader metropolitan area and the region
  • direct connections to export markets and finally
  • an economy and society in which citizens feel they have a stake, where equity, liveability and good governance underpin economic development.

Sydney scores well on most of those criteria and we have a plan in place to build on our strengths and ensure that Sydney becomes a sustainable, globally connected centre of the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the UK's Global and World Cities' research, Sydney is one of the world's nine "alpha-plus" cities, and is ranked as the seventh most connected to the global economy, following New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.

As the world's economic focus shifts to our region, Sydney is preparing to build on its present assets and forge even stronger connections in our region - including, of course, our connections with India, Australia's seventh largest bilateral trading partner.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 is our action plan to progress global Sydney while ensuring our local communities continue to thrive. It incorporates bold plans to install gas-fired tri-generation to power, heat and cool our buildings.

Our proposal for a light-rail connection through the city - to relieve congestion and help the city function more efficiently and cleanly - is already nearing fruition with the decision by the NSW Government to fund a north-south route. The City has allocated $180 million to transform George Street into a major pedestrian and public transport boulevard to support the local economy.

Like many other initiatives in our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, it recognises that to be successful, the city must not only function efficiently, but it must be attractive to an increasingly mobile global workforce.

Events such as CeBIT are a natural fit for Sydney where the Information Communications Technology sector includes 960 businesses - many of them innovative start-ups.

Indeed, a key direction of our Sydney 2030 strategy is to foster a creative city, to develop Sydney beyond its obvious tourist attractions as a globally competitive and innovative city.

While the big levers of change are in the hands of the Federal and State Governments, the City recognises the importance of innovation and has allocated space in a number of our commercial properties for start-ups and new enterprise.

We want to show our support for the innovators, and the start-ups, and make sure they are not priced out of the global city but have ready access to the big organisations than can help transform their ideas into products.

Once again, it's my pleasure to welcome all of you to Sydney, and to wish you a stimulating and fruitful time here. Sydney has so much to offer visitors, and I hope you will make some time enjoy at least some of the many highlights of our city.

Thank you.