Paddington Society Annual Dinner

(7pm 25 August 2011, Victoria Barracks)

Thank you, John Mant, president and good evening, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

I also want to pay my respects to this terrific institution - the Paddington Society. What a force it has been, and continues to be. Every community should have an organisation that goes out to bat for residents.

Since its foundation in 1964, it has remained true to its aims and steadfast in its focus on the goals formulated when John and Pat Thompson, Don and Marea Gazzard, Viva Murphy and Sheila Rowan formed it to save Paddington from "death by RTA".

Those goals were to preserve the architecture and open space of Paddington, to encourage the local culture and preserve its environmental and social amenity while remaining firmly non-party political.

It's a recipe I support for councils.

Local government needs groups like the Paddington Society to keep us informed.

Resident groups also help build community and social cohesion. They are guardians not only of the physical structures of an area, but of its social structures as well.

The Paddington Society has always been fortunate in that it can call on a tremendous range of expertise within its own ranks. That includes such distinguished figures as the late Max Kelly and the late George Clarke, and also the very present John Mant and Bill Morrison.

Over the years, the society has successfully fought against expressways and road-widenings, a proposed stadium in Centennial Park. It continues to take an active interest in any plans affecting the area - whether it's street closures or the redevelopment of the CoFA campus.

Thanks to those early activisits, Paddington was not obliterated. And thanks to those who continue to be its guardians, it remains a real jewel of Sydney.

We now have a fantastic civic precinct around the Paddington Town Hall, with Juniper Hall and the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Just today, the gardens were the venue of a striking interactive sound and art installation organised by NIDA, and we are looking to other cultural institutions to plan exhibitions over the coming year.

When the work at CoFA is nearing completion, we'll be consulting you about what you would like to see for the plaza in front of the new building. Meanwhile, we've finished landscaping at Three Saints Square, with new paving, seats and trees.

I'd like to take this opportunity of thanking the society for its efforts, for your always thoughtful contributions to the urban debates, and to wish you all the very best for the future. Paddington is in good hands!

Thank you.