(20 July 2012, The Eight Restaurant, Haymarket)
Hello everyone and thank you for coming to our fundraiser tonight.
I want to thank Millie for her welcome and also acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.
I would also like to acknowledge people from the over 200 nationalities who live in our city.
It's great to see you all here tonight.
Some of you have supported me for a very long time - for some of you it's the 12th election! - and I wouldn't be here without your support. And it's wonderful to see so many new faces!
I can't stress how important it is to have you all here this evening.
Over the past eight years, our city has been run by a group of local residents and business people committed to our city and our city communities - not beholden to the phone calls from head office of major parties, or to vested interests.
I am enormously proud of what we have achieved.
But I fear what will happen if the city goes back to the major parties or to vested interests.
Peter and I lived in London for a number of years when we were first married. While we were there, with our young daughter Sophie, we experienced the benefits of living in a densely populated community, close to the city centre, near shops, transport, parks, child care, and the other things that turn a postcode into a community.
When we moved back to Sydney, we didn't want to move to the suburbs - not to Gordon, where I grew up, or Canberra, where Peter was from - and we moved into a terrace in Redfern.
Back then, Bourke Street had speeding one way traffic. The children's playgrounds were asphalt compounds surrounded by cyclone fencing topped with barbed wire. And the council thought this was fine.
It was improving our neighborhood that got me into politics.
And while I couldn't have known where that would take me, we've come a long way.
Take a look around as you move around the city - certainly the barbed wire, asphalt and concrete are gone, replaced by wonderful city parks, playgrounds, libraries, pools and streetscapes.
Redfern Park has been transformed. The oval that had a besser block surround topped with barbed wire clearly a favourite of the time and the dilapidated grandstand have been replaced by a beautifully designed, award winning facility, and the park now positively buzzes with children and their parents, people picnicking and walking their dogs, and sporting groups and locals using the first-class facilities.
Many of you will remember when the independent team was first elected to council in 2004. South Sydney, the City and parts of Leichhardt had been summarily amalgamated and we faced huge challenges.
And we wanted to develop a long term vision for the city.
We asked the people who lived, worked and visited Sydney what they wanted for their city. We consulted, we researched, we committed. The result was Sustainable Sydney 2030 and now we're carrying out the work.
And it's not just Redfern Park. There's Pirrama Park Pyrmont as well as Harmony Park Surry Hills, Glebe foreshore, Rushcutters Bay Park, and Sydney Park and many others as well - imaginative playgrounds for the growing numbers of city kids - and smaller parks throughout the city.
There are award winning facilities like Surry Hills Library, Waterloo Youth Facility, the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and the soon to be finished Prince Alfred Park Pool.
Think about the beautiful Paddington Reservoir Gardens and the Burton Street Tabernacle (which will reopen next year as the Eternity Playhouse).
Sydney, Glebe, Erskineville and Paddington Town Halls are being restored.
We've planted 7,000 trees - and that's just part of our long term plan to increase the canopy by 50%.
We're retrofitting our buildings, reducing our waste, and improving energy and water performance right across the city. And we're rolling out energy efficient LED street lights.
We care for our diverse communities, giving free rates to pensioners, expanding aged and community services, and providing 32% more childcare places. We do more for homeless people than any other council in Australia.
On Oxford and William Streets, we're providing affordable space for creative and start up businesses. We're investing in the city's creative and cultural life through events like Sydney Festival, Chinese New Year, the Biennale of Sydney, Art & About, Christmas and New Year.
We've championed small bars and have seen a renaissance in live music as well as providing a cool place for people to meet friends.
We couldn't do all that if we didn't get the basics right. Our street maintenance, cleaning and waste collection, with more and more recycled, is the envy of people in other council areas.
And given the City Council was bankrupt in early 90's I am proud that we are debt free, have had balanced budgets every year, and we have investments to finance future projects over the next decade!
We consult, commit and we do and we have a plan for the city's sustainable future.
We plan to take the city off the coal fired grid, with low carbon precincts powered by trigeneration - a first for Australia.
Green Square is the biggest urban renewal project in the country, and we're investing in community facilities and planning to make sure it works for the people who live and work in the area.
Traffic congestion costs our city $4 billion a year now - that will double by the end of the decade if its business as usual. We're investing in transport options including a bike network and car share and we're campaigning for a light rail network - we're contributing $180 million to the George Street light rail project.
I want to thank the Councillors who have worked with me to make this all possible. (Thank Councillor Tornai, Councillor McInerney, as well as Councillor Hoff and Councillor Black).
But it's important we realise that there are plenty of people who want to wind back the clock.
They want to take Sydney back to a time when cash from property developers and pubs trumped good government for the city.
Already the O'Farrell government has passed legislation for a transport committee; proposed changes to planning laws, and a Bill with the support of the Shooters and Fred Nile has been passed to override the democratic right of the people of the Sydney Electorate, which will prevent me from being MP and Mayor.
And we all know Labor's record and after 16 years their legacy is the lack of transport infrastructure in NSW.
The Greens, who should be supporting the most progressive government in the country, are out there at every election spreading misinformation and even lies.
Party politics is indeed venal.
Our team has started doorknocking in the past few days, and we have got a good response. It's vital that we get an Independent majority to ensure our inspiring progressive program can continue.
But I believe that winning a majority in this election will be tough.
I've looked to form a talented, experienced and diverse team that represents our Sydney community.
I'd like to introduce you:
As deputy lord mayor, Robert has worked to develop a stronger business community here in Sydney, and to extend our business community's reach into important global markets in China.
From overseeing our phenomenal Chinese New Year celebrations to chairing the City's finance committee, Robert has played a significant role in our success and I'd like to thank him for standing as part of the team again.
Many of you know Robyn well. She is a passionate campaigner, an experienced administrator, and a former Deputy Vice Chancellor of UTS. I don't think she'll mind me saying that the community in Glebe can be fairly vocal about issues that affect them and Robyn is a champion of their causes, and a voice of reason.
Robyn joined me when we were first elected to Council in 2004 and she has returned to make sure that the good work we started with our Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision is realised.
John Mant is an urban planner and lawyer, one of the principal architects of the Local Government Act, an advisor to Premiers and Prime Ministers and an Acting Commissioner of the ICAC - John has seen the ins and outs of some of the most complicated and murky periods in public policy.
His skill and experience will help guide us through the next four years.
When Jenny Green saw a problem in her street, she didn't throw up her arms or complain from the sidelines, she rolled up her sleeves and got organised.
Forming a community group with local residents and businesses in Potts Point, Jenny helped find a solution to the problem of backpackers turning Victoria Street into a camp site and car sales yard.
We need more people in Sydney who are willing to get in to solve problems!
Nell Schofield has many strings to her bow. Some of you will know Nell from her career as a broadcaster with the ABC, Showtime and CNN. Or you may remember her as a teenage girl starring in Puberty Blues. Nell also co-wrote the play Strictly Ballroom, which Baz Luhrmann turned into his breakthrough film. She's made a few films herself, too.
But that's just one side of Nell. She's also a passionate campaigner for action on climate change. She's part of a women's surfing club called the Sea Hags and an enthusiastic promoter of the joys of bike riding.
Claudia reminds me so much of me when I first got involved in politics - just trying to make my neighbourhood a better place for my children.
Living in Kings Cross with her husband and two kids - and a third on the way - Claudia wanted to create a network of parents who could support one another as they went about raising kids in the inner city.
She is also a successful small business owner and, I can probably safely assume, the only person here tonight who is a member of the 'Guilde Internationale des Fromages'.
I could introduce Alex as a champion of marriage equality in Australia. A hero of the GLBT community. Someone at home in the halls of Parliament trying to get politicians not just to lead, but to catch up with the community on this long-overdue reform.
But Alex is also a small businessman. Running his family's recruitment firm in the City has taught him a lot about the needs of local business and the importance of making Sydney a global leader.
They are a terrific team!
By supporting us tonight, you're helping make our campaign possible. We don't have the war chests of the big political parties.
The hard work of the campaign has really started - and over the coming weeks we hope every one of you can help in other ways to protect our city and its future.
In 50 days time, our community will decide what kind of leadership they want. Do they want to go back to the dark days of city hall, or do they want progressive, modern and transparent visionary city government?
I'd like to thank people who have volunteered their time and skill to make tonight such a success.
Thank you to:
- Our MC, Claudia Karvan
- Aunty Millie Ingram, for her Welcome to Country
- Fiona Cook and the members of the Ukes of Hazzard
- Comedian, Dan Ilic, and vocalist Brendan Maclean, who will entertain us later in the evening.
Thanks also to people who donated or helped with prizes for our raffles and auctions tonight:
- Bruce Druery & Robyn Attuell, Bill & Libby Morrison, James & Leonie Furber (the syndicate that donated a day yachting on Sydney Harbour)
- Therese Keane and Bob Hill; Roy Bishop and Manivannan Gopalakrishnan; and Diana Simmonds & Suzi Whitehead Pope (who donated weekends away at holiday homes)
- Louise Ingram and Stephen Pozel (donated artworks from the Object Gallery)
- Wendy Littlewood (donated ceramic platter artwork)
- Mary Pinnock (donated one of her artworks)
- David Lonsdale (donated signed, hardcover books)
- Nick Bonich (arranged bikes at wholesale prices)
- C Moore Hardy and Jochen Letsch (donated a framed photograph)
- Kay Vernon and Toni Robertson (donated wine)
And, most importantly, I'd like to thank our amazing, hard working fundraising team:
- Leone Joy
- Kay Vernon
- Peter Morris
- Sheba Greenberg
- Frances Beringer; and
- Anne Fraser.
A special thanks, too, for our hosts Jaco Chan and the team here at The Eight restaurant.
Thank you also to our many table captains who helped by rounding up a table full of people
I hope you will all give them a round of applause, and enjoy the rest of the evening they've put on for us.
And thank you again, for your wonderful support.