Boosting our Small Bar Scene

Remember when Sydney had no small bars, just huge characterless beer barns? With hundreds of small bars across the city now, I'm so proud to have played a part in the groundswell community campaign by pushing the legislation through the NSW Parliament as an Independent MP.

Award for Chelsea Street Playground

Good things can come in small packages! Our much-loved pocket park on Chelsea Street, Redfern, has just taken top honours in the "Parks and Open Space" category of the 2016 AILA NSW Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Awards.

Thanking Councillors Jenny Green and John Mant and Deputy Lord Mayor Irene Doutney

Last night at Town Hall we celebrated the work of Councillors Jenny Green and John Mant and Deputy Lord Mayor Irene Doutney – they won’t be contesting election in September so we thanked them for their service last night.

Strengthening our approach to divestment

We urgently need to reduce our greenhouse emissions and move away from fossil fuels to clean energy - that’s why this week at Council, I asked staff to toughen our approach to divesting from any investments linked to fossil fuels.

Farewelling our Paralympians

We hosted a farewell reception for the Australian Paralympic Team at Town Hall this week – I was so thrilled to show Sydney's support and give these wonderful athletes a fitting send-off for Rio. (Even if my tennis skills left a little to be desired...)

Independent Team

On Saturday, 6 August, I will officially launch our campaign for the City of Sydney election at a major fundraising dinner.

Proper planning for a higher skyline

We have just completed the most detailed planning review of the city centre in more than four decades. This is city planning at its finest. The draft “Central Sydney Planning Strategy”, which we will put on exhibition for your feedback after our Council meeting, will allow the city to grow and respond to global market changes, while making sure sunlight continues to shine through to treasured public spaces including Hyde Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Martin Place and Wynyard Park. This strategy is the result of three years of research into each city block. After careful examination of the way sunlight falls through the city (the blue colouring in the picture above) we have a plan to ensure tomorrow’s Sydney works for the people who live and work here. Instead of decisions made behind closed doors, as we've seen at other levels of government, this is evidence-based work that considers the current and future needs of our city. Read more by clicking here.

Providing a springboard for women-owned businesses

Too little investment in women-led, high-growth companies impedes our city’s economic growth. So it’s not only a women’s issue, it’s a broader economic issue. That’s why we are sponsoring Springboard Enterprises Australia’s 2016 Accelerator Program – an education and coaching course designed for women entrepreneurs in the early stages of their company’s development.  Each year, SBE runs this ‘bootcamp’ for up to 10 companies, designed to accelerate their growth by providing skills and knowledge, coaching, mentorships and connections to local and international venture capitalists, angel and corporate investors. One of the bootcamp participants I met at the SBE annual presentation night last month, Kimberley Turner, is a young Sydney entrepreneur who founded Aerosafe Risk Management. Aerosafe is now fifteen years old, has more than 50 employees (including some of her old UNSW lecturers!) in seven cities across the world, and Kimberley comes back to help other entrepreneurs getting their start. I’m proud to support this excellent initiative and the wonderful relationships and mentoring it facilitates. Our upcoming Tech Startups Action Plan identifies the need to increase the number of female entrepreneurs launching and scaling high-growth businesses as an economic priority and there are plenty of outstanding female entrepreneurs in Australia who could use Springboard’s support to take their business to the next level. For more information, visit:

Got an idea for creative space in Paddington?

We’re looking for creative and community-minded people to take over two floors of Paddington Town Hall for 15 months – any idea how we should use the space? The space, located at 247 Oxford Street, Paddington, was previously occupied by Metro Screen and includes a green screen studio with an upper-floor editing suite, several office spaces, meeting rooms and classrooms.  We open up City-owned properties to give community groups and creative organisations the space they need (and sometimes couldn’t otherwise afford) to work on projects that improve our city. Our accommodation grants program currently supports 67 organisations across 44 City sites, including artist cooperatives, community services, education programs and childcare services. It’s just part of the work we do to build a city that is recognised internationally for its cultural life, just as it is already recognised for its natural beauty. We are employing all of the tools at our disposal – from planning and regulation, to grants and sponsorships, to making use of properties like Paddington Town Hall – to foster a genuinely creative city culture. This is a great opportunity for enthusiastic and creative minds to contribute to the local community through creative initiatives that encourage community development. If you’d like to use the space or learn more, click here:

Delivering on child care

We know there is a desperate need for childcare in our city and we’re using every lever available to increase supply. One such lever is the Childcare Development Control Plan (DCP) we introduced in 2013, which was the first of its kind. The DCP makes it compulsory for all new buildings over a certain size to provide space for a childcare centre. Our planning staff have also been negotiating the inclusion of childcare centres through Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs) with developers when they propose new developments. Recent approvals include a centre in the proposed Haymarket Library building, as well as two other centres in the proposed redevelopment of the George St Cinema site. All three will be handed over to the City to run as a result of the VPA. We’ve also been busy building our own centres – four new centres in Alexandria, East Sydney, Annandale and Green Square are due to finish construction by the end of this year. All this work has resulted in a net increase of 967 new operating places, over 2,000 places that have been approved or are under construction, 368 places currently under assessment and 220 places subject to a design competition – overall it’s an increase of more than 3,500 places. This means we will meet the demand for new spaces – making the City of Sydney one of the few Governments in Australia to prioritise and meet this important need. By the end of 2016, the City itself will own 27 centres, making us a substantial provider of child care facilities. As a result of our work over the past 12 years we have created a more liveable city and many young families are choosing to stay here, which is terrific and we know how important childcare is to those families – that’s why childcare continues to be a priority for the City. Pictured above: Construction nearing completion at the East Sydney Early Learning Centre

Bold new climate targets

Despite the longest election campaign ever, there has been little said on climate change. That is a shocking omission. Climate change is the single greatest challenge we face and it’s starting to bite – the monster storm along the East Coast, the shocking new evidence of bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, the fact that for 13 months straight we’ve set new global temperature records every month. At the City, we're doing everything we can to slow this dangerous warming and have again raised the bar with ambitious new targets. Our new plan, Environment Action 2016 – 2021 (which we adopted at Council this week_ charts a course for the next five years that will see us use 50% renewables by 2030 and have net zero emissions by 2050. Across our area, we’ve worked with businesses and the community to slash emissions (19%) without compromising our booming economy (37% growth), meeting the targets we set in Sustainable Sydney 2030. We have been carbon neutral since 2007 – the first Australian government to do so.  Some of the key initiatives of Environment Action 2016 – 2021 include: An energy retrofit program for apartment buildings (important because 75 per cent of our residents living in apartments); $10 million to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy across the LGA; A trial of battery storage for solar energy at one of our depots; A competition to encourage Sydney’s first net zero emissions buildings; Completing our cycling network and connecting it with 10 regional cycling routes; Facilitating a private water utility to deliver recycled water to the wider Green Square area (278 hectares); A new waste strategy to achieve 70 per cent recycling and recovery of residential, commercial and industrial waste in our LGA; Planting 600 new street trees and 1300 new trees and shrubs in City parks each year until 2021; and A Heatwave Response Plan to deal with our largest natural killer, heat, with our climate continuing to warm. Read Environment Action 2016 – 2021 online and offer your feedback here: Together we can ensure that Sydney has a sustainable and prosperous future.

Celebrating NAIDOC Week in the City

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Songlines: The Living Narrative of Our Nation’, encourages us to learn about the Dreamtime – when ancestral spiritual beings shaped our rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures. Our program of events celebrating NAIDOC Week continues to grow, and this year everyone who comes to Hyde Park for NAIDOC in the City will be able to learn a lot about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures through displays from the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse, the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and others. There’s a terrific range of music performances and also a wonderful emphasis on activities and fun for kids – whether it’s a Dancestry workshop with NAISDA and Muggera Dancers or story-telling with Anita Heiss. NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate our Indigenous cultural fabric – something we do every day at the City. I hope you enjoy this diverse program for NAIDOC Week and take the chance to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country. See the full program here:

Sign Up