Holden Volt launch

(8.39am 9 December 2011, Australian Technology Park, 2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh)

Thank you, Mike 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 live in our City.

It's also a pleasure to acknowledge the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, His Excellency Jeffrey Bleich, Ambassador of the United States, Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mike Devereux and guests.

Smart cities, and smart businesses, long ago recognised the imperatives of climate change and began adapting to meet them. Business as usual is no longer an option.

With more than half the world's population now urbanised, cities are where we need to make the real changes - and cut emissions.

Transport is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In car-dependent countries like Australia and the US, it is a huge contributor to greenhouse emissions and to urban pollution.

Over the last thirty years in Australia, car ownership has risen dramatically, and in the Sydney local government area, second-car ownership is growing at a rate faster than any other LGA in the country.

It's been spurred, of course, by the lack of consistent and comprehensive planning for public transport which is actually costing us millions of dollars a year in costs associated with gridlock.

Our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan calls for a rethink in transport to reduce congestion, including plans for light-rail, cycling and car-share which we are now steadily progressing.

None of those, I imagine, will be music to the ears of car manufacturers!

But we recognise, too, that a large percentage - probably the vast majority - of people will always be car-owners and the Holden Volt being launched today is rightly described as "a game changer" in the automotive industry.

It is a practical form of alternative transport - more economical for the driver, and infinitely better for the environment, using electricity stored in its lithium-ion battery, backed by a petrol powered engine/generator. In electric mode, it's producing no exhaust emissions - and that is good news for our polluted cities.

It's amazing to think that it can be recharged at night through a standard power outlet and will use less electricity in a year than an average household refrigerator!

Mike has said the Holden Volt spearheads the company's push to become a leader in new technology and sustainable motoring. He echoes what has been our mantra at the City of Sydney: that the changes we need to make to deal with climate change will produce new jobs, stimulate economies, and make for smarter, cleaner, more beautiful and sustainable cities.

In September, I asked Parliament to issue a technical direction to reserve on-street parking bays for recharging stations.

The Government said they would work with council on the matter, forming a working party to consider on-street charging of electric vehicles, towards releasing technical guidelines for councils.

There is just one charging station in the city now - in Derby Place, Glebe - where the council is trialling two electric cars.

We are preparing for the rise of electric vehicles and plan to install up to 12 electric car charging stations at city car parks by the end of the financial year, in Kings Cross, Goulburn Street and at street level.

As the slogan for this new car puts it - "Somebody has to be first". At the City of Sydney, we're going first with our introduction of trigeneration to supply local power, heating and cooling and a host of other measures to make Sydney more sustainable.
But we have always said we can't do it alone, and so we welcome companies who are prepared to "do it first" in their industry and we welcome their leadership and innovation.
Congratulations to Holden on this great step forwards.