Looking Forward, Looking Back

I look forward to 2011, which promises to be another challenging and productive year: the NSW election; my continuing work to achieve benefits and action for inner city communities; and the increasingly urgent need to tackle global warming, the most serious challenge faced by our planet.

As Lord Mayor and State MP, I remain determined that Sydney shows leadership in addressing the cause and consequences of damaging climate change, particularly given the lack of decisive action from our State and Federal Governments. I am listening to inner city residents who are demanding Government action and leadership to address climate change, and at the City we are responding with action.

PARLIAMENT

In Parliament, I continue to focus on getting action and raising issues on behalf of inner city communities. In addition to introducing my bill which allows same sex couples to adopt and my Strata Legislation Amendment Bill, I spoke 45 times in Parliament and asked over 150 questions on topics including alcohol related violence, inner city policing, traffic congestion, urban sustainability, air quality, vehicle noise, inner-city mental health services, mining exploration, cycling safety and homelessness.

I supported legislation which:

  • formally recognised Aboriginal people as the first people of NSW in the state constitution, while calling for action to remove discrimination and disadvantage;
  • established a relationships register for same sex couples,
  • will provide urgently needed coordination of all transport planning in NSW, which I have been advocating for many years;
  • made modest improvements to the position of tenants, giving them flexibility and increased protection when relocating;
  • enables dogs to remain with their owners while they have lunch or coffee in alfresco dining areas; and
  • set caps for election donations and expenditure and also supported the Opposition's unsuccessful amendments which aimed to increase transparency, limit donations to individuals and close the loophole that enabled third parties, including unions, to top up parties' campaign expenditure.

The passage of my Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with cross-parliamentary support, was a historic win. In 2000 all other MPs opposed my amendments to an Adoption Bill 2000 to include same sex couples. Over the following 10 years I continued to advocate law reform through questions in Parliament, lobbying ministers, making a submission to the parliamentary inquiry in support of equal treatment and supporting community campaigns.

My Strata Legislation Amendment Bill, developed through comprehensive consultation, aims to improve the position of owner occupiers and tenants of strata properties. I intend reintroducing the Bill when Parliament resumes if I am re-elected.

SUSTAINABILITY

Throughout 2010 in Parliament I repeatedly promoted action to reduce emissions and improve sustainability. At the City we continue working to create a thriving, sustainable and global Sydney, guided by our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan. Our commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent on 2006 levels by 2030 guides delivery of projects, services and programs.

We are well advanced in planning to deliver essential green infrastructure - efficiently and cost effectively retro-fitting our city with sustainable energy and water supply networks, and better waste management. Central to our plans is a network of gas-fired trigeneration plants which will provide local sustainable energy, heating and cooling.

Our interim Trigeneration Master Plan covering the CBD, Barangaroo, Pyrmont/Broadway and Green Square, now on public exhibition, will reduce the City's greenhouse gas emissions by between 1.1 million and 1.7 million tonnes a year.

Planning is underway to automate waste collection and use waste from all over Sydney as a valuable resource by converting it to renewable gas to power our energy generation. Already, our household waste goes to an alternative waste facility in western Sydney, where most of the waste is recycled.

This year, we will develop a Decentralised Water Master Plan for a network for water collection, recycling and re-use that will supply at least 10 per cent of the City's water from local sources and cut the pollution currently discharged into our Harbour or the Cook's River in our stormwater.

At Sydney Park, construction is underway on the $1.3 million first stage of our project to collect 50 million litres of water to replace water lost to evaporation in the wetlands, maintaining healthy water levels for aquatic plants and animals without reliance on drinking water.

Sustainable design elements including storm water harvesting, filtering water discharged into our harbour, smart energy management and solar panels are now standard wherever possible in our projects. Raingardens are key to our streetscape improvements in Chippendale, Pyrmont, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills

Our libraries and community centres now work as sustainability hubs, providing information and tools for residents to live more sustainably. PowerMates which measure the cost of running appliances and the greenhouse emissions generated can be borrowed from any City library.

TRANSPORT

In 2010 we made significant progress in making bike riding a safe and popular transport choice, with the completion of separated bike paths on Union Street, Pyrmont, Kent Street and College Street in the City; Bourke Street from Woolloomoolloo to Redfern; and Bourke Road, Alexandria. These works, together with others underway, provide the first 10km of up to 55km of separated cycleways, in our planned 200km network.

The opening of these dedicated cycleways has resulted in a significant increase in cycling numbers. In areas with dedicated cycle facilities the bike numbers doubled and nearly tripled, with a 124 per cent increase on Kent Street to the Harbour Bridge in the CBD, and 167 per cent near the Anzac Bridge! Independent bike counts at 94 intersections in the City between March and October 2010 showed even more dramatic growth: an average 40 per cent increase in the morning (6am-9am), and 29 per cent growth in the afternoon (4pm-7pm).

Our bike riding education and promotion campaigns emphasise safety and responsible sharing of public space. Our participation in events such as Ride to Work Day and Spring Cycle also promoted our commitment to cycling. The Watershed at Newtown, jointly managed by the City, established a bike library where people can borrow special cargo-bikes and bike trailers to transport bulky items, children and pets.

The City continues to support car share as an increasingly popular sustainable alternative to car ownership. Our review of the program found that car-share schemes reduce the number of car trips and the demand for on-street parking, and our recently exhibited draft car share policy received significant support.

During 2009, the City also embraced electric vehicles, with our first on-street electric vehicle charging station in Glebe for use by car share company GoGet, and our first electric fleet vehicles which are charged at Town Hall, where solar panels provide 20% of the building's electricity.

Our continued advocacy for light rail bore some fruit in 2010, with the State Government allocating $500 million in its Metropolitan Transport Plan the expansion of the light rail network, including light rail from Central to Circular Quay via Barangaroo and extension of the current route out to Dulwich Hill.

The five-year Memorandum of Understanding which the City signed with the State Government in 2010 also opens up opportunities for George Street to be re-imagined as a light-rail and pedestrian boulevard, providing new opportunities for retail and cafes that enliven our whole City. Initial works to implement the memorandum are already underway.

PARKS AND PROJECTS

The City continued to improve and increase green open space for our residents and visitors with the renewal of pocket parks and playgrounds in Chippendale, Darlington, Millers Point, Paddington, Wentworth Park in Glebe, Ward Park in Surry Hills, Reschs Park in Redfern, and Victoria Park in Camperdown. The renewed Oatley Road Reserve playground was reopened as Ethel Turner Park, named after the children's author who spent her early years in Paddington.

In March, we celebrated the completion of Pirrama Park on Pyrmont Point, which combined the new park on the former Water Police site with the adjacent pre-existing park, providing four hectares of foreshore parkland. The name 'Pirrama' was an indigenous name for the area.

Work continues to complete major improvements to Rushcutters Bay Park and Prince Alfred Park in 2011. This year Council will consider the community's response to the draft planning controls for Harold Park which propose preserving a third of the site (3.8 hectares) as public open space.

I was proud to lead a strong community campaign to protect Moore Park from a blatant land grab by the SCG, and applaud the State Government's decision to keep it in the hands of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust. Unfortunately, the threat to Governor Macquarie's legacy, the Sydney Common, continues, with the sale of parts of Queens Park to a private school.

In February, Council adopted a Community Gardens Policy which provides guidance and financial support for communities to establish new gardens. We funded several community gardening initiatives including a bush food forest and permaculture garden in Surry Hills, a community garden at the KU Phillip Park Children's Centre, a Co-op Classroom Garden established by the Chippendale Fresh Food Cooperative, planter boxes in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, and raised garden beds in Paddington.

Our grants program also funded Community gardens in James Street in Redfern and Wattle Lane Park, Ultimo During 2010, Council approved $4.7 million in grants and sponsorships, including Local Action Plan and Local Community grants, cultural, business support, environmental and heritage grants.

Work to develop a City Farm progressed during 2010, with a feasibility study, currently on public exhibition, recommending Sydney Park in St Peters and the disused Powerhouse Museum car park as preferred locations. Such a farm would provide practical opportunities for Sydneysiders to learn about and participate in sustainable food production.

Our parks and other projects continued to win significant National and State awards including awards for Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Redfern Park improvements, Balfour Street Pocket Park in Chippendale, the new Sydney Park amenities building and the restoration of Sydney Town Hall.

Our commitment to sustainability, design excellence and community consultation will continue through our projects in 2011, including revitalised streets and new public art in Chinatown, the restoration of the Burton Street Tabernacle as a community theatre, gallery and café, and many more local parks, playgrounds and street improvements.

A VITAL AND VIBRANT CITY

Coordinated, transparent and accountable planning processes are vital for the future of our City. In September and October 2010, City Plan - our comprehensive draft Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plan - was endorsed by Council for public exhibition. It is the product of years of detailed work to consolidate and improve planning controls across the City. The Minister has now approved City Plan for public exhibition, which will begin in the coming months.

Our rigorous, consultative approach to planning focuses on design excellence, public benefit and sustainability and informs our planning for Harold Park, Green Square and the Goldfields House site in the CBD.

Unfortunately, the City's rigorous approach has not occurred with the State Government project at Barangaroo. I worked hard to get the best outcome, but was unable to remain on the Board of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority as my concern grew about the failure to provide accountability and transparency, inadequate consultation, and the rushed process for such a significant and complex project.

The City's expert submission on the recently approved Concept Plan amendments found that it will have an unacceptable impact on the quality of the public domain, especially the hotel on the public pier. We put forward an alternative proposal to relocate the hotel, reduce the excessive bulk, which would dominate the City skyline, restrict view corridors and overshadow public space, and I am disappointed the Minister's approval ignored most of these proposals.

With the support of the City's expert staff I will continue to work with the community to get better outcomes at Barangaroo, which is vital harbour-side site and could provide an important opportunity for exciting renewal of the western CBD.

The City's commitment to economic and cultural sustainability continued with the establishment of a Retail Advisory Panel, the expansion of programs to support small business, and continued support for major cultural festivals and community cultural activities. Art and About in October was a 2010 highlight, with City laneways, monuments, parks and banners transformed with exciting and innovative artworks.

Also revitalising our City are more than 30 quirky and interesting small bars that have sprung up in two years since the State Government agreed to the community campaign and my legislation to reform liquor licensing. There is now a more civilised mix with smaller venues.

Council will continue targeting rogue and violent premises to promote a safe night for visitors and sanity for neighbours.

Inner City communities are vibrant, diverse and welcoming and I continue to work for better support for our most vulnerable residents including homeless people, people with mental illness or drug and alcohol problems, public housing communities and people struggling to afford housing.

It is shameful that public housing in the inner city is again under threat as the State Government plans to sell off another 20 homes in Millers Point despite significant community opposition, and my letters, action in Parliament and meeting with Ministers. As MP I organise regular meetings for public housing communities in Surry Hills, Pyrmont, Ultimo and Millers Point and attend community meetings in Woolloomooloo. The City holds meetings for public housing tenants in Redfern, Waterloo and Glebe.

The City is the only council in NSW with a dedicated homelessness unit and funds outreach teams and referral services to help homeless people get and keep housing, and access health and welfare services.

Three projects underway will make it easier for our key workers to find affordable accommodation in the City. A Glebe Affordable Housing Project and our sale of part the former South Sydney Hospital site to City West Housing will provide over 300 affordable housing units, and a project coordinated by the Inner City Mayors Forum which will identify suitable sites for affordable housing development across inner Sydney.

The City continues to lead debate, consultation and conversation with our residents, business and visitors. In 2010 we held 44 community forums and consultations, as well as business forums, small business seminars, sustainability workshops, cycling confidence courses, and dog obedience classes and we invite the community to attend our public committee and council meetings. Our popular and stimulating City Talks continue, with just one 2010 highlight being Janette Sadik-Khan's inspiring presentation about transforming New York's public spaces.

I'm tremendously proud of our achievements in 2010. I thank you for your support and look forward to continuing to work with you in 2011

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