A new Business Chamber for Surry Hills

On Tuesday night I helped launch the Surry Hills Creative Precinct. Surry Hills has some of the best "cool" in Sydney, with a lively mix of restaurants, cafes, bars and businesses. It's great to see local businesses form a group to work together and continue this area's growth.We know that small businesses are the life-blood of our city. They provide important services, add interest, add diversity and layering to the City, for our residents, workers and visitors. When the City of Sydney creates action plans to promote economic development, retail and tourism, we keep small business very much in mind. We need strong business chambers to advance the interests of this vital part of the City economy. Surry Hills hasn't always thrived as it does today. A turning point was the return of Bourke and Crown Streets to two-way traffic, which slowed cars and made streets attractive for cafes and restaurants, shopping and browsing.The City has also helped transform the area with cycleways and streetscaping. The introduction of separated cycling lanes with landscaping on Bourke Street has created a great walking as well as cycling street. We've also upgraded Crown and Baptist Streets and added hedges along Cleveland St, making a real difference.The Surry Hills Library - winner of multiple architectural awards - helped boost the sense of a village community and created a village hub. And Prince Alfred Park and Pool has created a wonderful edge to Surry Hills. The next big project will be the light rail. Surry Hills Library, Crown Street The formation of this Chamber puts a final piece in the jigsaw. Now there is a group of people tuned into the potential of the area and of its creative strengths.You only have to look at the success of the Chippendale Creative Precinct, which has turned a forgotten, run-down corner of the city into a thriving cultural hub with small galleries, shops and restaurants, to see what can be achieved.Sydney is a city of villages offering a rich variety of tastes, cultures and experiences. Each community offers something unique, with iconic destinations and a distinctive style, from the historic to the hip.The Surry Hills Creative Precinct will help advance not only businesses in the area, but help protect the wonderful character and ambience of Surry Hills.If you're a business owner in Surry Hills, consider joining the SHCP to help shape the local economy of Surry Hills.

Australia stuck in the climate past

Today's announcement by Tony Abbott that Australia will only aim to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 is disastrously inadequate.In Parliament today the Prime Minister said, "we are not going to clobber the economy to protect the environment."It is shocking that in the year 2015, Australia's leader can say that taking action on climate change would hurt our economy.The opposite is true. Acting on climate change is good for our economy, our health, and our environment.Abbott's suggested targets are far lower than what the government's own Climate Change Authority was calling for (a 40 to 60 per cent cut on 2000 levels by 2030). They mean that by 2030 Australia will still be the worst carbon emitter per person on the planet.The target is not enough to avoid warming of two degrees or more, which is the globally accepted maximum if we are to avert catastrophic, runaway climate change.When our community made a long term plan for the future, the top priority for many people was taking meaningful action on climate change. That's why the City of Sydney has a target to reduce emissions across our local government area by 70 per cent (of 2006 levels) by 2030.That target is nearly triple what the Australian government is proposing.Emissions across our area have already been cut by 12 per cent amid strong economic growth. Our 'carbon intensity' (greenhouse emissions per dollar of economic output) has fallen by nearly 30 per cent.As political leaders from around the world move towards an international agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Paris at the end of this year, the targets announced today by the Australian Government simply aren't good enough.

Safe Space and Take Kare Ambassadors Extended

Everyone should be able to enjoy a good night out in Sydney and come home safely at the end of it. Sadly that has not always been the case, but the fantastic Safe Space and Take Kare Ambassador program is helping change that.Since Christmas, trained Salvation Army volunteers have already spent Friday and Saturday nights helping more than 5,000 people in the CBD.The City has helped fund this great program since it began last year and today I joined Ralph and Kathy Kelly, NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton, Superintendent Mark Walton, Professor Gordian Fulde from St Vincent's Hospital and Nate Brown from The Salvation Army to announce that the program will now continue for another three years.As well as continuing the work in the CBD, volunteers will now also work in Kings Cross.The Safe Space and TK Ambassadors provide assistance and a place of sanctuary when people need it most. They might be lost, drunk, separated from their friends, a long way from home, or at risk of becoming a victim of crime. Volunteers administer basic first aid, hand out free water and sweets, provide phone and internet access, and help to get vulnerable people home safely.Many of you would have seen that just recently two Take Kare Ambassadors, Meggie and Laura, came across a bloodied and unconscious man in Haymarket at around 4am. Their swift and brave action - performing CPR and calling emergency services - saved that man's life.Thomas Kelly was Meggie's cousin, and I'm sure the entire Kelly family is proud of her work. And as Ralph said: "Thomas would be so proud of you both."The Safe Space and Take Kare Ambassador initiative makes our city a better place, and I'm sure it will continue to make a huge difference to those in need.

Working with the State Government to Help Rough Sleepers

This morning I joined Brad Hazzard MP, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, to announce a new joint protocol to help homeless people during severe weather emergencies. The protocol will help us provide support to rough sleepers during major weather events such as storms and heatwaves and other crises.Minister Hazzard and I decided to formalise an agreement following the success of emergency shelter provided during severe storms in April. Personnel from the City, FACS, Neami and Mission Beat provided 61 people with warm meals, hot drinks, clothing and bedding. During that time we helped 46 people into temporary accommodation and two people were offered long-term housing.The formal agreement we signed today will allow us to replicate that response at short notice for future emergencies and respond in other ways to the needs of rough sleepers when needed.The science is clear that climate change will cause increases to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. It is important for cities to be ready for such events and to protect vulnerable people.The City's dedicated homelessness unit works hard to get rough sleepers into accommodation. They work with police, the state government and a number of specialist services to reduce homelessness and its impact in the city. The team's public space liaison officers visit rough sleepers every day and work with them to access housing, Medicare and Centre link assistance and other support.Even though it is a State responsibility, the City invests $2.4 million each year to reduce homelessness and its impacts in the city - more than any other council in Australia.We have committed $4.2m over the next three years to fund homelessness outreach services, which have housed hundreds of people over the past five years, and ultimately aims to help as many rough sleepers into housing as possible. Our homelessness team also conducts two street counts a year. During them the City collects accurate and up-to-date information about the numbers of people sleeping rough.This helps inform ongoing policy development and to assess the effectiveness of current policies and initiatives, as well the priorities of the city's public space liaison officers.

Sydney at the Climate Frontline

At Council on Monday night we will vote to adopt three pieces of important work that will help the City address climate change: the Energy Efficiency Master Plan; the Climate Adaptation Strategy; and the Residential Apartments Sustainability Plan.There is no more important issue for the long-term success of Sydney than addressing climate change. We know that the effects are already being felt, and by 2070 our city will be more than 3 degrees warmer than it is today.At the start of this week, President Barack Obama declared climate change to be the greatest threat to the future of the planet and pledged to cut US carbon emissions from power plants by 32 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.We need strong national and international commitments to tackle climate change, but the City of Sydney is not waiting - we are acting.Energy The City of Sydney is on track to cut over 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year from City-owned buildings.Solar panels have been installed across 22 City sites including buildings, grandstands and depots, producing 945,263 kWh of power per year. When the project is completed, panels will be installed in around 30 buildings and cover a combined area of more than 12,000 square metres - nearly twice the area of a football field.Public lighting accounts for a third of the City's annual electricity use and 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. We have now replaced 6,150 conventional street and park lights with LEDs, saving nearly $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance costs and reducing our emissions.We've also retrofitted 45 City-owned properties to reduce electricity and water use, which is saving more than $1 million a year.The City's Renewable Energy Master Plan outlines how 100 per cent of the City's electricity, heating and cooling can come from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and energy from waste, by 2030.BusinessThe City is working with businesses to reduce emissions and make significant energy, water and financial savings through programs including Smart Green Business, CitySwitch and the Better Buildings Partnership.The City-led Better Buildings Partnership covers more than half of Sydney CBD's commercial floor space. Members have reduced their emissions by 35 per cent since 2006 and cut their energy bills by $30 million a year since the partnership was establishedThe City-led national CitySwitch Green Office energy-efficiency program works with 212 commercial tenants in NSW. Last year members saved 86,506 tonnes of carbon emissions nationally.The City's Smart Green Business program has assisted more than 400 small, medium and large-sized businesses on energy, water and waste savings worth more than $3 million.100 Resilient Cities Accepting our membership in the 100 Resilient Cities. Climate change is putting pressure on our city in a variety of ways and Sydney has been selected to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.The City of Sydney has already brought together representatives from Greater Sydney's 41 councils, state and federal governments, not-for-profit organisations, businesses, universities, emergency services and utilities to create a plan to help Sydney cope with extreme events like April's torrential storms and last summer's heat waves.100 Resilient Cities was launched in 2013 as a $100 million commitment to help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges we will face this century.Officials and leaders from over 700 cities applied for the program. Paris, Wellington, Singapore, Melbourne and Athens are among the 35 most recent cities invited to join the network from among almost 350 that applied.A global deal in Paris Join us at the City Talk in August. A global agreement is an essential part of our response to climate change.At our City Talk in August Connie Hedegaard, Chair of the OECD Round Table for Sustainability, will address this very important issue. In her role as European Commissioner for Climate Action and Danish Minister for the Environment, Climate and Energy, Connie has been instrumental in setting a global course for a low-carbon future.I invite you to join us for this important discussion. Find out more here.

City support for Tech Startups

Sydney has an amazing group of innovators, designers, coders, entrepreneurs and engineers who are building a global reputation and shaping the future of our economy. Click here to read the plan. I'm happy to say that the City is now ready to release a draft Tech Startups Action Plan for feedback.We have spent many months consulting with people working in the sector to find out what support they need in order to continue to thrive.On Monday afternoon, Councillors heard from Springboard, Fishburners, UTS, BlueChilli, Stone & Chalk and SydStart about some of the challenges startups in Sydney face.Our aim is to help create an environment that enables technology entrepreneurs to start and grow successful global businesses.Over 64 per cent of Australia's tech startups and up to 15 per cent of Australian workers employed in the ICT sector are located in our local government area.A key to the success of a startup 'ecosystem' is proximity between new and established businesses, universities and media organisations. Areas like Ultimo and Pyrmont have exactly that.PWC has estimated that the Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion, or 4 per cent of GDP, to the Australian economy and to generate 540,000 jobs by 2033.There is fierce international competition for the jobs and economic benefits that the startup sector is creating. The next multi-billion dollar company to follow in the footsteps of Twitter, Uber or Airbnb is already being developed.We must ensure that Sydney is a supportive location for such development so that our most talented companies and the entrepreneurs behind them grow their business in Sydney.The City will focus on building a strong entrepreneurial culture and community; creating skilled and connected entrepreneurs; increasing the startup ecosystem density; supporting entrepreneurs' access to funding and developing technology entrepreneurs' access to markets.You can read the draft Tech Startups Action Plan here, and from next week visit to give us your feedback.

Ratepayers foot $12m bill for businesses to vote

On Monday, Council's Finance Committee will be discussing a staff report on the implementation of the Shooters Business Voting Bill, which became law on 6 February.Business owners have always had the right to vote in City elections, and I have always actively supported their right to vote. Businesses make an immense economic and social contribution to our city. Click here to read the SMH article. I also support the right of business people to decide for themselves whether they wish to enrol and vote. The process for doing this should be as easy as possible.The undemocratic Shooters Bill gave businesses two votes, when residents only have one. As respected independent election analyst Antony Green said:The two votes idea is completely at odds with Australia history, and with democracy as understood in most western democracies.Business owners will now be automatically enrolled without their consent. Once they are enrolled they will be compelled to vote. If they don't vote they risk being fined.The SMH said this afternoon that in his legal advice to the council, Bret Walker, SC, said "the breadth and depth of the exercise required (by the legislation) requiring an Orwellian conception of record keeping by government in respect of its citizens, borders on the impossible. At best it is highly impracticable".You can find a copy of the Council report that will be discussed on Monday by clicking the following link and scrolling down to Item 6: Shooters legislation makes the City's CEO responsible for preparing the non-residential roll for City of Sydney elections. This requires the CEO to identify and create a register of all businesses and non-resident landowners who should be on the roll.The CEO is required to ensure the non-residential register is continually and absolutely accurate. This is impossible given the frequent changes in businesses and landownership within the City of Sydney.This is one of many problems with the Shooters' legislation. Despite these problems, staff have developed a comprehensive process to implement the legislation as best they can. This is complex and potentially intrusive for business.Staff estimate that the cost of implementing the Shooters legislation is $12 million, and this estimate has been independently reviewed by Price Waterhouse Coopers.The Shooters and Fishers claim they based their Bill on the system used by the City of Melbourne. Yet, while the Bill was being debated in Parliament, the Victorian Government released a report on the Melbourne model following an inquiry conducted by former Liberal MP, Petro Georgiou.That inquiry recommended: Corporations should have one vote - not two; The Victorian Electoral Commission should be responsible for preparing the City of Melbourne roll, not the City's general manager; and Automatic enrolment of business voters should cease. The implementation of this undemocratic Bill will be discussed by Council's Finance Committee on Monday. Council's committee meetings are open to the public. You can also address the Committee about any concerns you have with the issues raised in the report for up to three minutes. More information about addressing Committees is available at: you would like to address the Committee please phone 9265 9310 before 12 noon on Monday.The Committee begins meeting at 1pm. Given the Committee's agenda, it may not begin discussing this item before 2pm.

Light rail rolls on

I was very encouraged this week by NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance's comments about the need for light rail connecting Green Square with the city centre.When the $8 billion Green Square development is complete the population density will be 19,100 people per square kilometre - the highest in Australia. The population of the area is already booming and there are nearly 10,000 apartments due for completion over the next four years.The need for mass transit in the area is becoming urgent. Green Square West has a heavy rail station, but the concentration of development is in the north and east parts of Green Square, an area that is a 20 minute walk from the station. Residents rely on overcrowded buses which will not accommodate future demand.Successive State Governments failed to provide additional mass transit for Green Square, which is why the City invested more than $40 million to undertake feasibility studies and safeguard a light rail corridor to Central. It is fantastic Minister Constance has recognised this urgent need and we will work together to provide for the fast-growing Green Square community. Watch the Ch7 News update on light rail. The City is also investing $440 million on essential infrastructure for Green Square like roads, stormwater, footpaths and street furniture and community facilities including childcare, a new library and plaza, new parks and playgrounds, an aquatic centre and creative spaces.At the same time we are also investing $220 million in the project to extend light rail through the city centre and Moore Park to Randwick.This project is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reshape our city and on Wednesday I was pleased to welcome to Sydney Thomas Richez, whose firm Richez Associes has worked on light-rail projects in Paris, Bordeaux, Rheims, Tours and Orleans.At an event hosted by the City, staff from Transport for NSW and builders of the light rail project were able to learn from his considerable experiences.We have always looked to our international counterparts, to learn from their experiences. I hope the expertise of Thomas Richez brings to this project will help us transform George Street into one of the world's greatest main streets.

OzHarvest calls on us all to Think Eat Save

OzHarvest, the UN Environment Program and the UN Food & Agriculture Association are working together to tackle the increasingly important issues around food, food security and food waste.Today I was proud to join OzHarvest CEO Ronni Kahn in Martin Place as celebrity chefs and volunteers served up thousands of delicious free meals, all made with rescued produce.The event highlighted the fact that each year, Australians throw away $10 billion worth of food. Around four million tonnes of it ends up in landfill.Our country alone produces enough food to feed about 60 million people, yet there are two million Australians who still rely on food relief. Agencies say they struggle to meet the demand, with almost 90 per cent saying they cannot feed as many as come to them.For every five shopping bags of food taken into Australian homes, the equivalent of one bag of food will end up in the garbage. We can't afford to go on doing this.You may have seen the City of Sydney's new marketing campaign to encourage people to reduce food waste. Visit to find some great tips on reducing your food waste.OzHarvest was founded to help remedy that situation, taking unwanted food, food that otherwise would go to landfill, and turning it into healthy and tasty meals to deliver to people in need.Food and nutrition are fundamental needs we all share. We all share, too, the fundamental need for a healthy and sustainable planet.So I urge everyone to support Think Eat Save by making a pledge to reduce your own food wastage. Involve your families, your friends, your community and make food wastage a thing of the past.

Chinese New Year 2016: Year of the Monkey

Last night we unveiled the program for next year's Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, celebrating the Year of the Monkey.Over the past 20 years, the City's Chinese New Year Festival has evolved from a small community event to the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside China.With light rail construction transforming the CBD, we have re-imagined the Festival and will make it bigger and better than ever.The Festival's main feature, "Lunar Lanterns", will see giant lanterns representing animal signs of the Chinese Zodiac in CBD locations from 6-14 February 2016.Lanterns will flank the entrance to Circular Quay, the business heart of Martin Place and the bustling streets of Chinatown, encouraging you to follow the trail and find your zodiac sign along the route.For more than 2000 years the lantern has been an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations so I'm pleased we can continue that tradition in a modern way.Groups from Asian communities will be invited to perform and take part in activities at each lantern location over the nine days and nights, showcasing these rich cultures.Lunar Lanterns is our way of creating a spectacular and memorable Chinese New Year Festival experience in place of the parade we have held in the past. Given George Street will be unavailable due to light rail construction, the City tried to find an alternate parade route with the State Government. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a suitable route that would not compromise the size and integrity of the parade.Since it began in Sydney, the City has produced 108 events for the Chinese New Year Festival, supported more than 600 associated events and hosted 10 delegations from China to be part of the celebrations.The festival now attracts more than 600,000 visitors to more than 80 events across the city, making it one of the most popular events in Sydney's calendar.

Reforming Electricity Market Rules

For years the City has been pushing for a system that makes it easier for residents and businesses to access clean power that is generated and used locally.We are now teaming up with the Property Council of Australia and the Total Environment Centre to ask the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) to change the rules that govern the electricity market.Local generation of power is a win for the environment, businesses and consumers. Across Australia, more and more businesses and households are generating and exporting local electricity. Local generators range from office buildings with generators in the basement through to sugar mills making electricity from waste heat and residents with rooftop solar installations.More than half the cost of electricity bills for both households and businesses is due to transporting power across long distances from remote power stations. Local generation saves money for the producer and the broader community by bringing down the cost of electricity transport.Unfortunately, under current rules, full network charges are still payable if an office tower with its own generator sends surplus power to the building next door or across the street. This fails to recognise the savings made from not using the long-distance networks of poles and wires.The proposed rule change would ensure local generators receive a credit for surplus power exported to the grid which reflects its economic value - increasing the financial return for local energy projects, making the electricity network more efficient and lowering electricity prices for all consumers over time.Last week I toured the recently completed second stage of the Central Thermal Plant (pictured above). The plant generates hot and chilled water for the Central Park precinct, whilst generating its own electricity with a natural gas fired engine. This provides heating and cooling for 2,100 apartments and 50,000m² of office and commercial space for 11 high rise buildings. You can read more about it here.The AEMC, which manages the rules in the national electricity market, will consult with industry, business and the community and review our proposal. If the AEMC accepts our proposal, projects like the Central Thermal Plant would be viable on a larger scale and cheaper, cleaner electricity, produced locally, would be a possible CBD-wide.  

Invite: Launch of Bamal Way and Sydney Park Water Re-use Project

This weekend we're opening two new City projects - our Sydney Park Water Re-use project and the Bamal Way pedestrian and cycle connection between Coulson Street in Erskenville and Sydney Park Road.I'd love for you to join me at both events. There will be entertainment, giveaways and food at both from 11am - 1pm and I will be at Bamal Way at 11:45am and Sydney Park at 12:15pm.Bamal WayBamal Way provides a much-needed pedestrian and cycle connection between Coulson Street in Erskenville and Sydney Park Road. Works include: A new concrete pathway linking Coulson St to Sydney Park Rd Ramp and stair access to Sydney Park Rd for pram and disabled access A lawn area, new planting beds and terraced retaining walls Stormwater drainage works New trees for extra shade and shrubs; and New lighting to the path and stairway Bamal is a Sydney language word for 'earth, clay or ground'. Bamal Way is on the site of the former Bakewell Brothers pottery works.Sydney ParkWe have just completed an $11.3 million upgrade of Sydney Park wetlands, including the creation of the City's largest system for harvesting storm-water. It can harvest up to 1,0000 litres a second in a major storm, and will capture and clean around 890 mega-litres each year, providing a sustainable water supply for the park and for its wetland rehabilitation.Any remaining water will be cleaned and return to the Alexandria Canal.Since 2004, we have invested $23.25 million in capital works to transform a derelict former brick-making site into a varied and attractive regional park, offering ample scope for active and passive recreation for all ages, a much-needed green lung for this heavily populated part of Sydney.In this recent upgrade we have also created new pathways and viewing platforms through the wetlands, with a water cascade, bridges and picnic tables.Why these upgrades are importantAround one million people a year use Sydney Park. The immediate catchment area for the park has 750,000 residents and more are coming. By 2030, there will be an estimated population of over 53,000 at Green Square and by 2027, development of the Ashmore Estate will boost the local population by another 6,300.We need greater densities in built up city areas for a number of reasons - including sustainability and affordability. But greater densities only work when they are accompanied by the appropriate facilities - including green public spaces.This is why one of my priorities has been providing parks and green spaces across the LGA, from the big waterfront parks like those at Glebe and Pyrmont, to pocket parks and playgrounds and over 10,000 street plantings.Impact of WestConnexThe proposal to widen Campbell Road and Euston Road, shaving off part of the Sydney Park for WestConnex and funnel at least 33,000 cars a day into St Peters is disastrous.This $15.4 billion roads project will eat up transport funding for decades, and rob us of the chance to build 21st century solutions.The NSW Government has not released a business case to back up the claims that the project will be good for Sydney, and may be massively overestimating how many people will use the toll roads.The City has released the only, independent research into the project, and the results are alarming.The toll road will push even more people onto already congested routes. Traffic on Parramatta Road will increase 25 per cent as people try to avoid expensive tolls.By 2021 over 31,000 vehicles a day will be dumped at the St Peters interchange located next to Sydney Park. This will increase to over 55,000 vehicles by 2041.These vehicles will end up on local roads that aren't designed to cope with that amount of traffic. It will create more congestion and seriously impact on Ashmore and Green Square and there could be a serious impact on our much loved Sydney Park.The City will continue to oppose the plans for WestConnex and I urge you to continue to make your voices heard, too. Read more about how to do that here:

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