Welcome to our new Council

I'd like to congratulate all of the City of Sydney's Councillors on their election.

I'm honoured to have been re-elected as Lord Mayor for a third term, and I thank the City community for the strong mandate as Lord Mayor to continue with the City's leading progressive work.

I hope to work in co-operative participation with all Councillors. Since 2004, this Council has been responsible, strong and progressive, achieving all of our most significant work through a large degree of consensus.

Most major decisions were endorsed unanimously - by the Independent team, Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Councillors put aside petty party politics and made judgements based on the research, community consultation and the facts.

While there were, of course, differences over some issues, they were generally minor ones. I have always been happy to endorse good ideas from other Councillors and I hope we will work together in a similar way.

The greatest threat facing our city is climate change. I went to this election strongly advocating for continued action and was given a mandate by the community to continue that important work.

(Image: click on the image to see a great new video highlighting the work we're doing to make Sydney sustainable)

In 2004 we began our first term in Council by preparing a comprehensive strategy that would equip Sydney for the 21st century. While actions to reduce our greenhouse emissions were a key priority - 97 per cent of the very wide range of people we consulted said they wanted action on climate change - the Sydney 2030 Strategy looks to build a Sydney that is sustainable not only environmentally, but economically, socially and culturally.

It highlights actions for today to safeguard our city for the future. It provides a framework that guides our policies and actions on every level and we are now very much in the phase of implementing the actions outlined in the strategy.

A major part of Sustainable Sydney 2030 is our Green Infrastructure Plan - described recently as 'one of the most important environmental blueprints in Australia.'

This will be an exciting term as we move towards taking the City off the coal-fired grid through a series of low-carbon precincts running on locally produced power from tri-generation. This will supply 70 per cent of the City's energy needs while reducing carbon emissions by one-third and saving about $1.5 billion in updated energy infrastructure. Many businesses in the city already operate on trigeneration.

We're retrofitting the City's own buildings for improved energy and water performance and we've begun the roll-out of LED street and park lights - a first for Australia, saving costs and pollution.

We're working with Sydney's major landlords on the Better Buildings Partnership to cut pollution and save energy, water and waste across 60 per cent of the inner city's commercial offices.

We're continuing to plant more trees and promote green roofs and walls while we look to upgrade and create parks and other green areas.

In this term, major renewal sites like Green Square, Harold Park, the CUB site and Barangaroo will begin to take shape and come on line.

In the previous term, a number of City projects such as Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Pirrama Park and the Surry Hills Library won between them 40 awards - national and international. I'm committed to maintaining that reputation for design excellence through this coming term.

We will continue to connect and expand our cycleway network.

Independent counts show that the number of riders in Sydney is growing at a faster rate than most other comparable cities. There has been an increase of more than 80 per cent since 2010, and that will only grow. We welcome moves by many businesses like Westpac, Google and Telstra who are now providing end-of-trip facilities for staff who ride to work.

The State Government recently released its draft Transport Master Plan which flags our bike network and improved pedestrian connectivity as critical to modern city centres. The City and State share many similar goals in regards to transport.

Congestion is costing our economy $4 billion a year and that will rise to $8 billion by 2020 if nothing is done.

The City strongly advocated for light rail and we welcome the Government's commitment to expanding light rail through the city and out to Randwick and the University of Sydney.

We already have $180 million set aside to pedestrianise George Street between Bathurst and Hunter Street, to activate laneways and for new street plantings and furniture. The Tourism and Transport Forum recently said the City's plans for George Street had once in a lifetime consensus between stakeholders, business and residents.

I will continue to press the Government for connections to Barangaroo, Green Square and Oxford Street.

The City is also pressing ahead to develop a more varied, safe and appealing night-time culture, with pop up events in laneways, late-night openings not only in cafes and small bars, but museums, galleries and shops, supported by food trucks and improved transport.

We will of course also continue to support our small businesses, improve our services to residents, respond to the needs of seniors and families with young children, and look after our most marginalised and disadvantaged residents.

We have an outstanding staff at the City, with dedicated and talented professionals in every sphere, very ably led by Monica Barone. They are proud of the work they do, and rightly so.

I look forward to working again with them, and with all Councillors to achieve our goals.

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