Paddington Society 50th Anniversary Dinner

(7pm, Monday 11 August 2014, Paddington Town Hall)

Thank you, Geoff, [Ludowyke, Vice-President]. Hello, everyone. It's great to be here with you to celebrate the very significant 50th anniversary of the Paddington Society.

I'd also like to acknowledge this evening's Guest-of-Honour, the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove (a Paddo boy) and Lady Cosgrove; and also tonight's speaker, distinguished actor Jack Thompson - doubly distinguished in this company as the son of John and Pat Thompson, founder members of the society, and I acknowledge Will, the current President and the former Presidents who are here tonight.

And it's wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and on such a night I acknowledge such stalwarts of the society - the late Max Kelly and George Clarke, and I also acknowledge DLM & City Councillors.

This 50th anniversary marks a very significant milestone - not just for the society, but for residents across inner Sydney. In 1964, Paddington residents galvanised by State Government plans to convert Jersey Road into a highway, and cut a swathe through their suburb demolishing terrace houses, formed the first of the resident action groups.

Later, residents in Glebe, Darlinghurst, Balmain, Annandale, Surry Hills, Pyrmont-Ultimo, Newtown and Redfern took inspiration from Paddington to fight for their homes and the ethos of their villages. As a result Sydney now has a ring of unique inner villages that are genuine communities with a deep love of their local heritage and a dedication to preserving the ethos of their villages.

I have long been involved with the Paddington Society - as the local member and subsequently as Lord Mayor.

My electorate office of 24 years - now occupied thankfully by Independent Alex Greenwich - has always been on Oxford Street Paddington - I'd like to acknowledge Alex and the great job he is doing! I certainly share your concerns about this very special place.

Together, we've worked on many campaigns - the redevelopment of the Royal Hospital for Women, achieving a worthwhile outcome not only on built form but the dedication of a public park; the Scottish Hospital site; the White City site; the Sydney Showground with my private members legislation stopping its sale and ensuring revenue went to the Centennial and Moore Park Trust; opposing proposals to commercialise Centennial Park; and most recently that appalling bridge that will alienate so much of Moore Park.

And then there's the restoration of Paddington Town Hall and the creation of the wonderful Paddington Reservoir Gardens - a place of respite and inspiration for Paddington residents.

The society has played a significant role in educating the public and elected representatives about the importance of heritage conservation and urban amenity. If you need a measure of the society's success, simply ask yourself who would dare suggest putting a highway through Paddington today? (Or perhaps better not given our current political situation!)

So I take this opportunity of thanking members of the society for all you have achieved, for your always thoughtful contributions to urban debates, and to wish you continuing strength and action into the future because those of us who care about our heritage and our urban environment have to remain constantly vigilant!