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Address for the civic dinner - council of capital city lord mayors on the occassion of the city of sydney's 150th anniv

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21ST JULY 1992

Thank you for the invitation to the Prime Minister to address

you on this occasion for celebration. I convey his disappointment that he cannot be present and he has asked

that the following message be read.

I welcome with pleasure the opportunity to greet the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors on the

occasion of the 150th anniversary of Sydney's creation as a City. I extend best wishes for a

successful and memorable civic dinner tonight.

Unfortunately my official duties prevent me from attending what promises to be an exciting occasion.

The council of Capital City Lord Mayors has taken an important leadership role in representing the special cultural and environmental interests of the capital cities. The Council has done much to

promote a greater awareness of the importance of issues such as the role of appropriate infrastructure for the quality of life in our

cities, and the need for measures to ensure the

preservation of heritage buildings.

It is most appropriate that Sydney should have a

celebration for its 150th Anniversary as it is truly one of the great cities of the world. Let me congratulate all those involved in the organisation

of the 150th Anniversary celebrations.

On behalf of the Government I extend my best wishes

on this important occasion, which I am confident

will be an outstanding success.


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In 150 years Sydney has grown from a colonial toddler to a confident and independent athlete in the Olympian competition of the cities of the world.

You have much to celebrate and it gives me great pleasure to

participate in your celebrations and to be present at this

civic dinner for the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors.

The Council is an important unifying forum that has much to

offer and should be further developed.

The achievement of 150 years is a time for great celebration. It is also a time for reflection and a time for

new resolutions. In this context I thought it might be appropriate to reflect upon the subject of cities and the aspirations of their people and of their governments.

First, I would like us to consider the community who

occupied this site well before the Sydney City Council and for a period of occupation of thousands of years. One resolution which must have priority is that relating to the involvement of the Aboriginal community and the contribution

to be gained from it's rich culture.

We will have even more to celebrate when the original

inhabitants, the Aboriginal community, feel that they can

participate without reservation in such an anniversary.

Throughout this address I will be touching on matters of symbolism and of our interdependence in an ecological sense.

These are matters which the Aboriginal community has much to

teach us and they have waited more than 150 years for us to be willing to listen.

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The 150 years of the City Council has also much to teach us. The City Council itself has been one of the great builders

in this city. The legacy we have inherited is a fine one, with examples such as the Town Hall and the Queen Victoria


Less obvious but of great importance was the development of

infrastructure for which generations must be most appreciative. In particular, after a slow start, the installation of sewers and of water supply, as the early city developed, was the most important health service that

the community could receive.

To understand the modern Sydney we need to understand it's

history. The Sydney City Council is to be congratulated for the support it has given to the work of historian Shirley

Fitzgerald; work which has shown the sufferings, the joys and the loyalties that characterised so many of Sydney's inner city communities.

Today we use the term "city" in ambiguous but telling ways.

From outside the metropolitan area, it means the greater

city. From within the metropolitan area it means the heart,

the centre of activities, even if a significant number of

the residents rarely visit it.

This is not a matter of Council boundaries . The same

ambiguity applies in Sydney, where you my Lord Mayor have both the privilege and the pleasure of governing the heart,

and in Brisbane, where you my Lord Mayor, govern both the heart and the body.

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This ambiguity is a product of identity and of ownership; a product of those things which we find important. 'It is the

city heart which is the focus of so much of the city's energy and assets, it is the city heart which manifests so

many of the community's aspirations, it is the city heart which accommodates the symbols which bind the wider community to it's city.

Of course it is essential that the city heart functions efficiently, that it offers employment opportunities, that

it accommodates the myriad of activities which it nurtures. Of course it is essential that we consider the comprehensive

planning, integrated actions and timely delivery of urban services and facilities. It is equally important to think of the hearts of your cities as manifestating the aspirations of your metropolitan wide population, and as places which

will enrich their experience.

Cities are increasingly complex organisms and the

aspirations of their citizens change over time. The continuous interplay of conservation and change which

characterises a vital city, reflects these aspirations and

impacts on the symbols of it's city. The dynamic balance

between conservation and change characterise the successful

city. Too much conservation and the city becomes a museum. Too much change and the city becomes a development site.

The skill in this dynamic balance is to build on our

strengths and on the community's aspirations.

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In the past so many of the city symbols were single measures

of those aspirations, now the world and our aspirations are

more complex. Once, everything was measured by the aspirations of defence and the security of the walled fort, and now we adapt those structures to be museums. Once, everything was measured by the aspirations of religion and the glory of the cathedral, and now we adapt those

structures to attract tourists. More recently, everything was measured by the aspirations of commerce, and now, with

much greater difficulty, we seek ways of adapting some of

those structures.

We can no longer expect the single symbols, of the past to accommodate the aspirations of the community. No longer can we focus our ultimate concerns in a single structure. Interdependence is emerging as the ultimate concern for the

fast advancing 21st century.

Our communities are expressing a concern for the environment

which is impacting on every part of their lives. What the

term environment means is not yet sufficiently understood to be expressed with conviction, but the increasing evidence is

of an underlying concern not just for the impact we make on the environment, but for our place in the environment. That

is a concern with our interdependence in an ecological


This emerging environmental concern is of fundamental

importance at the very time we are facing increasing

economic problems and increasing funding constraints.

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It will require attention to the city as an ecological

system, as a network of spaces, as a formulation of buildings, as a system of parks. It will require attention

to policies which result in cleaner air, in better waste disposal, in better water quality. It will require limits to growth of those uses which are too vigorous and the protection of those uses which are essential for our

spiritual enrichment but which would be overwhelmed by unconstrained competition.

It will require an openness with the community, an openness by the community, and a confidence and a willingness to share ideas and opinions. We must understand and accept that public consultation is one of the most important vehicles by

which we decision makers sense the community's concerns and aspirations. It is not simply a step in a planning process.

We know that the greatest concern at present is about employment and that the next greatest concern is about environmental problems; that is the security of our work and the security of our habitat.

And you my Lord Mayors are governing in a time when even simple actions have complex ramifications, when

communication is a fundamental requirement, whatever its

risks and benefits. You are governing in a time when

community aspirations are more holistic and therefore infinitely more complex.

You are governing in a time when the decision making is

influenced by forces well beyond the boundaries of your responsibilities.

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It is a time when the day to day challenges seem so considerable that to speak of lifting our horizons runs the

risk of being criticised for lifting our noses from the

grindstone. But history demonstrates that these are the

periods when the great reforming actions are conceived and adopted. These are the periods when governments find new ways of doing things. These are the periods of great vision.

The need for vision in our cities is great. After the excesses of the 1980's now is the time to think strategically and to plan for the future; now is the time to manifest the environmental aspirations of the community, now

is the time to set the framework for the next century.

The Better Cities program is a step in this direction. It focuses on area strategies, because that is the context to address cross sectorial actions. It focuses on actual demonstration projects, because that is the most effective

form of communication. It focuses on co-operation between the three spheres of government, because we can no longer tackle these problems within administrative responsibilities

determined nearly a century ago.

Throughout Australian cities there are now demonstration

projects being developed and a number of these are

significant inner city projects. In Brisbane, the comprehensive scheme for the inner suburbs of Fortitude Valley, Newfarm and Newstead and in Perth, the comprehensive

scheme for East Perth, are examples which will establish

demonstrations for wider consideration.

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In Sydney, there is the possibility of the Ultimo Pyrmont proposal, a significant inner city demonstration opportunity. It is essential that the three spheres of government co-operate to bring this to fruition, however it requires a level of co-operation which seems to have been

sadly lacking in the events of the last week relating to one of the other inner city proposals, that of Honeysuckle in

Newcastle. It would be unfortunate if these opportunities were lost.

I do not believe we can tackle our emerging urban problems without the co-operative efforts of the three spheres of

government and with the private sector.

Beyond the demonstrations we need a regional approach to strategic planning. In this task the city heart cannot be isolated from the city as a whole. The strategic planning which is so necessary can only be done by the co-operative

action of all spheres of government, and it has to be driven by those who care; by those who care about the community, by

those who care about the functioning of our cities, by those who care about the future of our environment, by those who

care about the symbols of our cities.

Each of you, my Lord Mayors, is in a unique position of

leadership and of influence. Each of you is involved in

determining the future of our cities. Each of you can build bridges between all three spheres of government, the

metropolitan community and the private sector.

This next decade has to be one of preparation for the next


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In the 1890's, a group of Colonies was able to build the bridges of Federation. In the 1890's, Sydney was developing the great institutions which helped formed this city and

this State, as we know them today.

In the 1990's, as one nation, we are building the bridges of

collaboration with the countries of the Pacific Basin.

Sydney as our most cosmopolitan city and as a major city of the Pacific Basin will play a key role in forming the region

of the 21st Century.

I would like to finish with a quote from Lewis Mumford, the great American philosopher on the culture of cities. This

quote epitomises the challenge and the vision for our citiesi

"That which makes the city dear to later generations is the power to master it's own destiny and express it's

best ideals in the transformation of it's environment."

You, my Lord Mayors, are privileged people. You have the

opportunity for your caring, your decisions and your leadership to express the city's best ideals in the

transformation of it's environment.

Congratulations to Sydney on this marvellous occasion, my Lord Mayor and best wishes to you all in your collective and

individual endeavours for the future of our cities.

Thank you for your attention.