Governor Macquarie Statue Unveiling

(10.20am, Thursday 31 January 2013, Hyde Park North)

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I also acknowledge Her Excellency, the Governor, Professor Marie Bashir, AC, CVO; Sir Nicholas Shehadie and the New South Wales Premier, Mr Barry O'Farrell and I acknowledge all the distinguished guests gathered her to honour a great Governor.

I think Her Excellency and I both revere Lachlan Macquarie as an early hero (portraits in Lord Mayor's Reception Room and Town Hall).

To me, he was a great champion of Sydney - its first great champion, perhaps.

Someone who saw the possibilities as well as the problems. Who thought of generations ahead, and who shaped this place for the future.

You only have to look around you here to see the strength of his vision, almost 200 years after he left the colony, hounded by the miserable Commissioner Bigge.

Hyde Park itself was set aside by him as a place for public recreation and he created the street in front of us.

He harnessed the design genius of Francis Greenway so that now we have Hyde Park Barracks and St James Church and the Court house.

He entered into what must have been Australia's first public-private partnership to give us the Rum Hospital, whose southern and northern wings survive as The Mint and the NSW Parliament. A little further afield, he established what are now the Centennial Parklands as the Sydney Common set aside in prosperity.

He understood the importance of coherent planning, and strong public infrastructure - whether of a proper hospital or of public open space.

It's important that we are inspired to continue to implement those lessons: the primacy of the public good and the public realm; the importance of long-term thinking and planning; and the value of a coherent and consistent policy framework.

He also understood the value of flexibility and co-operation, of recognising and using talent and expertise. As governor, of course, he had enormous power. But he was also flexible enough to negotiate with a group of Sydney businessmen to get the much-needed hospital built.

He gave Francis Greenway the opportunities to exercise his gifts, he appointed a convict, Michael Robinson as Poet-Laureate and an emancipist, William Redfern as a magistrate.

Macquarie, in fact, took a multi-faceted approach to building the colony: fostering agriculture, opening a new market place, introducing the first public fair, introducing the first coinage and the first bank.

He also was concerned for the welfare of Sydney's Aboriginal population, establishing the Native Institution and setting aside a "native village" at Elizabeth Bay.

I am pleased - as he would be! - to see him honoured here.