National Tree Day 2015

(11.15am, Sydney Park, St Peters)

Thank you, Rebecca, [Gilling] and hello, everyone, welcome to Sydney Park and to this National Tree Day planting.

I'd also like to thank Uncle Chicka Madden for his Welcome to Country, and to thank Planet Ark and their sponsor, Toyota Australia, for hosting this event.

In 2015, Planet Ark is celebrating 20 years of working to green our world, and their report - Needing Trees - which Brad [Gray] will talk about today - shows just how vital that work is.

Increasingly, we are learning that connections to nature are essential to our physical and psychological well-being. But as this report shows, we are in danger of severing ourselves and our children from that sustenance.

Australians - who traditionally prided ourselves on our healthy outdoor life-style - now spend on average over 90 per cent of our lives indoors. This trend is accompanied by rising levels of stress and depression and rising levels of unhappiness among young people.

So open space, trees and parkland must be cherished and in an increasingly dense urban environment, new green spaces must be created.

The City seizes every opportunity we can to make Sydney a greener place. When the Independent team was first elected, over a decade ago, one of our early actions was to buy the former Water Police site at Pyrmont - which was to be sold for yet more apartment blocks - to turn it into an extensive waterfront park which now serves the Ultimo-Pyrmont community as well as people from all over Sydney.

We have also put enormous effort - and over $23 million - into this park, and it's now a regional treasure which attracts around one million visitors a year. So we will continue to fight against the destructive effects of the proposed WestConnex motorways, which will slice off a section of the park and surround it with heavy traffic.

We'll also continue our extensive tree planting program - so far, we've added 46,000 trees to Sydney's urban canopy, we'll continue to install rain gardens in our streets to capture and filter storm water, we'll continue to upgrade our pocket parks and to care for our major parks.

And we'll continue to work with Planet Ark, and with all our community, to keep Sydney green. However, our work is under threat from the State Government's latest efforts to take control of the City by amalgamating it with Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and Botany.

It would give the City a population the size of Tasmania and would diminish the voices of our local communities, partly because of the sheer size of the new LGA and also because the government plans on giving every business - whether the owner lives in Sydney or Shanghai - two votes to your one.

They're calling this "Fit for the Future" but you have to ask yourself what sort of future it will mean for you and your families. Will a State-controlled City of Sydney provides the parks and child-care and strong local villages that we have been developing since 2004?

Will it show the same commitment to equipping the city for climate-change and a sustainable future?

I think we all know the answers to those questions, so I urge you all to make your voices heard and tell IPART and the State to back off from these undemocratic proposals.