Macquarie honoured with new statue

This week I was involved in the unveiling of a new statue in Hyde Park of Governor Lachlan Macquarie together with the Governor and the Premier.

Lachlan Macquarie is my hero - he was a great champion of Sydney - its first great champion, perhaps. He saw the possibilities as well as the problems. He thought of generations ahead, and shaped this place for the future.

(With Governor Marie Bashir AC and artist Terrance Plowright.)

(With Governor Marie Bashir AC and artist Terrance Plowright.)

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

He set aside Hyde Park as a place for public recreation. He created Macquarie Street for us. He harnessed the design genius of Francis Greenway so that now we have Hyde Park Barracks, 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 for the benefit of the people of Sydney in perpetuity.

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, appointed a convict, Michael Robinson as Poet-Laureate and an emancipist, William Redfern as a magistrate.

Macquarie 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 was a truly great and visionary leader.

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