(12pm 15 May 2012, Lord Mayor's Reception Room , Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you, Rod. Welcome, 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'm pleased also to welcome Chris Locke, Deputy Director-General Transport Projects for Transport NSW.
This is a timely discussion for us - and a much-needed one! We all recognise the dire state of transport and the ever-growing problem of congestion, especially in our CBD.
It is our most urgent issue. We're already approaching gridlock. By 2036, the population of greater Sydney will have doubled. The City of Sydney itself - the heart of global Sydney - will house 60 per cent more residents and provide over 30 per cent more jobs than it does now.
Already there are a million trips a day - to, from, and within the city and congestion costs business, deters visitors and tourists, increases pollution and tarnishes Sydney's international reputation as a wonderful place to live, work, visit and do business.
The problems are not insurmountable, however. And with concerted action from the State Government and the City, we can make dramatic improvements.
Our vision at the City for a less-congested, more efficient Sydney broadly aligns with that of the NSW Government.
Our submission to the State plan which is now being developed is there for all to see in our policy, Connecting our City, which is on public exhibition officially until tomorrow, though we may extend that a little to compensate for the Easter break. It expands on the Jan Gehl vision with six major components.
The first of these is the transformation of George Street as a great central spine for retail, cafes and restaurants. With light-rail down the centre and three great squares at Central, Town Hall and the Quay, it could also transform the CBD itself. With the State Government poised to commit to George Street as the light-rail route, the City has set aside $180 million for its refurbishment as a world-class boulevard.
We will continue to improve the city for pedestrians - everyone who comes into the city is at some point a pedestrian! - and for cyclists, reducing reliance on buses and cars, decongesting and calming the CBD.
A third key to a better connected city is to ensure that developments like Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Green Square and Harold Park are thoroughly integrated into the improved transport networks.
Development of a street hierarchy will help guide projects such as footpath widening or priority bus routes, improving the flow of people and goods through the city.
We want to work with the NSW Government to key nodes such as Wynyard, Circular Quay, Central and Town Hall to provide seamless transfers between transport nodes and finally, to set priorities for our key initiatives such as the work on George Street or the Wynyard walk to Barangaroo.
What we do here in the CBD is obviously important for the people who live, work or visit our city. But it's also important for NSW and nationally that Australia's only global city functions efficiently and at a level already achieved by our competitor cities in Asia.
So once again, welcome to you all and it's a pleasure to introduce Chris Locke.