Sydney is open for business

(This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Friday 27 May, 2012)

Sydney businesses are the powerhouse of our economy, generating a quarter of our state's gross domestic product (around $100 billion), up there with the mining industry.

The City of Sydney is open for business. We have over 20,000 businesses with a workforce of more than 370,000 people.

We invest millions each year to support business. By helping them create and keep good jobs, increase wealth, entice investment and strengthen overseas links, we're ensuring Sydney remains globally competitive but we can't do it alone - many of the solutions to the issues lie outside the scope of the City Council.

One of our city's greatest threats is congestion. Sydney's transport network is near breaking point - it's 40 years since the need for a second airport was recognised, cruise liners are running out of deep anchorage berths and traffic congestion costs $4 billion a year.

The City is doing what we can by putting $180 million on the table for light rail, establishing safe bike infrastructure, improving pedestrian links, promoting car share and making it easier for taxis to pick up and drop off passengers but we know it's going to take more than bike lanes to solve Sydney's congestion woes.

This is Australia's global city - to fix the problems we face and prepare for the future we need all three tiers of government to get on with the major work needed to keep Sydney open for business. Sydneysiders are sick of the buck passing and petty politicking and expect their elected representatives to plan long term and act with conviction and courage.

Almost 30 million people visited Sydney last year, injecting billions into our economy, supporting thousands of local businesses and providing jobs for residents.

Sydney Airport is at capacity. Serious discussion and planning about a second airport began decades ago, so for the Premier to dismiss it outright beggars belief and is a threat to the growth of our economy.

Is the Premier really saying he is prepared to slow or even stop the growth of tourism to Sydney?

Sydney needs a second airport and it should be located where land has already been acquired and the planning work done.

Telling international visitors that they should fly into Canberra and then catch the train to Sydney is absurd. Tourists expect infrastructure and services that are on par with other global cities.

We face the same issue with tourists who arrive on premium cruise ships.

The cruise ship industry contributes an estimated $3 billion to the Australian economy, with most activity and benefit in Sydney. A recent report found that Sydney Harbour will not be able to accommodate the number of cruise ships requiring deep anchorage berths by 2015.

I believe Garden Island presents one of the best options for expanding deepwater berths for cruise ships east of the Bridge.

Commercial docking for large cruise ships at Garden Island with a continued naval presence is viable with congestion impacts on densely populated neighbourhoods managed. Options could include a new heavy rail station at Woolloomooloo and ferry connections to Circular Quay.

For many years, I have also argued for public access to the northern tip of Garden Island to benefit the areas of Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay and Kings Cross. These are the most densely populated areas in Australia and continue to grow with limited access to public open space.

Whether it's tourism or transport - businesses need certainty. It's why the City of Sydney does the research, consults the community, prepares the policy and then does the work.

We don't chop and change according to the latest headline or poll and we facilitate partnerships to ensure the work gets done.

We're working with leading property developers to create the highest-quality, sustainable office spaces in Australia through our Better Building Partnership, involving major property owners who own over 60 per cent of the city's commercial office space - attracting blue chip tenants and lucrative jobs.

Our planning work has seen billions of dollars worth of construction invested sustainably in urban renewal sites such as the CUB site, Green Square and Harold Park - providing tens of thousands of jobs during construction.

We know small and medium businesses are the backbone of our economy. We are working to reduce red tape and our annual Sydney Business Awards, Let's Talk Business seminars and 101 Workshops series help businesses innovate and thrive.

Shoppers in NSW spend nearly $1 billion each year. We've established a Retail Advisory Panel to support all types of retail in Sydney and we provide grants and other support to local chambers of commerce and start-up companies such as small bars, to stimulate local economic activity.

People choose to work, set up a business and visit Sydney for many of the same reasons they choose to live here.

It's the greatest city in the world with high-quality parks, a healthy environment and a diverse cultural life but it's critical our transport network and infrastructure supports the growth of our city.

By tackling these issues and showing leadership, we will ensure Sydney outshines other global cities for business investment, jobs and tourism dollars.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP

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