Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to Sydney! I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present. I also wish our visitors a very happy Chinese New Year – Kung Hei Fat Choy!
I would also like to acknowledge the Hon Carmel Tebbutt, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, and our honoured guests, His Excellency Chen Yuming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, His Excellency Hu Shan, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Sydney and His Excellency Vice Governor of Hubei, Jung Tong. I am pleased you could join us for this forum.
I hope you all enjoyed our Chinese New Year Parade last night, and especially the wonderful contingent from Hubei who certainly delighted the crowds.
Our first official Chinese New Year was held 15 years ago, starting as a small fair attracting a mainly Chinese audience. Thanks to the energy and flair of our Sydney Chinese community, and more recently, thanks to the generous support of the Chinese government and its representatives in Australia, it has grown into the dazzling event we saw last night, celebrated by the entire Sydney community.
It is now the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside Asia, and in recent years, it has become a springboard for a closer economic engagement between the City of Sydney and the major regions of China, through meetings such as this.
Our guests from Hubei have asked for a briefing on our work to make Sydney a green and sustainable city, and this morning, our Energy and Climate Change chief, Allan Jones, will outline our work to date.
Like Hubei, we are acting to ensure that our growth is sustainable. Indeed, we believe the development of a green economy is the only way forward.
I understand that Hubei’s export revenue has grown at a spectacular rate – even higher than the average and impressive growth rate of China. Last year, the total bilateral trade revenue between Hubei and Australia reached US $1.38 billion, an astonishing increase of over 95 per cent for the same period in the preceding year.
As Australia’s only global city, Sydney is a natural partner for other cities and local government areas looking to develop a response to climate change. We can all learn from each other and the development of strong, co-operative ties is more important than ever.
The Chinese Government has been particularly active in developing a response to climate change. By 2020, renewable energy will make up 16 per cent of China’s total energy output.
Hubei Province is vigorously developing alternative energy sources and subsidising the development of biomass, wind, solar and other renewable sources, as well as developing small-scale hydropower fields and household biogas facilities.
Six counties and cities in Hubei have been honoured as Model Counties for Green Energy in China and we will be interested to hear the results of your work last year to promote a low-carbon economy and low-carbon lifestyles.
The City of Sydney has come relatively late to the task – in fact not until I became Lord Mayor leading a team of Independent Councillors - but we are making up for lost time!
Our first task was to build the capacity within our own organisation to develop and implement the most effective policies and that work culminated last year with the appointment of Allan Jones to head our energy and climate change division. He attracted international attention for his work in taking the British City of Woking off the grid and was in 2004 appointed to head London’s Climate Change Agency. We are fortunate to have him now working in our City.
In 2006, we began work on a long-term vision for the City. We engaged all our stakeholders – residents, business and other levels of government – in the biggest consultations ever undertaken in the City. They formed the basis for our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, formally adopted by Council in June 2008.
It sets a series of ambitious targets which we are now working towards.
We aim to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent over the next 20 years, based on 2006 levels.
By 2030, 100 per cent of our power needs will be met by local generating systems, run initially on natural gas, and later from renewable gases, which will provide heating, cooling and power. This project is now out to tender.
In terms of waste reduction, our target is to divert 66 per cent of residential waste currently going to landfill by 2014. This is being achieved through simple measures such as new recycling bins, expanding garden waste collection and sending some garbage to an Advanced Waste Treatment Facility where waste is turned to compost or converted to gas for generating energy. This may eventually supply our trigeneration network.
In this summer, when devastating floods across eastern Australia have made news around the world, it seems ironic to be talking about our need for sustainable water supplies.
But Australia remains one of the driest countries on earth, and we can be sure of a succession of extreme weather events – something your own Hubei Province is familiar with. Last year was confirmed as one of the hottest on record in Australia, so despite occasional blips, the temperature continues to trend upwards and water will remain a significant issue for us.
Our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan includes the development of localised water supply to collect and recycle stormwater for non-drinking purposes. This could work alongside our trigeneration network and we could potentially install the infrastructure for both projects simultaneously.
We have called for tenders to identify the best locations for collecting and treating water. The successful bidders will then need to study the best locations for the water supply systems and calculate the size of the area the system should supply.
Both our water and energy plans face existing regulatory hurdles but these are not insuperable.
Meanwhile, we are working with Sydney Water to promote water saving solutions for businesses and we have cut our own use of potable water by 17 per cent since 2006 through efficiency measures and water harvesting at our own parks and buildings.
As we say at the City, our aim is to “show by doing”. And increasingly we see the leading private companies in our city responding to the challenge of climate change in a host of ways – whether by employing the latest green design and construction principles or by providing bicycle racks and change-rooms and end-of-trip facilities such as showers for their employees.
The management of these companies understand that thriving cities of the future will be green and sustainable and that the increasingly internationalised workforce of the future is attracted to the most liveable, sustainable cities.
The City of Sydney local government area represents one-twelfth of the total economy of Australia. If we were an independent nation, we would be among the world’s top 50 economies. We are headquarters to more international companies than any other Australian city, and we draw by far the greatest number of tourists and migrants.
We are Australia’s gateway to the world – and the world’s gateway to Australia. A creative city whose highly-educated, multi-cultural population harbours a wealth of ideas, talent and inspiration.
We are strategically placed to link China with South Asia and the Pacific, and we are seeing a number of significant Chinese financial institutions which are basing their regional headquarters in Sydney.
Since 2007, major banks such as the China Construction Bank and the People’s Bank of China have had offices in Sydney, recognising this City as a major regional hub for financial and business services.
Business services, in fact, represent Sydney’s largest employment sector, followed by financial and insurance services.
In addition to its appealing climate and lifestyle, and rich array of culture and leisure activities, Sydney offers access to world class education and health-care. Two of our four major universities and two major teaching and research hospitals are located within the City boundaries.
It is prosperous, peaceful and harmonious, and through its migrant communities, it has enduring social and cultural links to Europe and, increasingly, to Asia.
Today, almost 10 per cent of the City’s population is of Chinese ancestry, and one in every 12 of our residents is a Chinese speaker. Chinese is now the most common language spoken at home after English.
Chinatown is the living symbol of that strong Chinese presence, and under our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, we are working to reinforce its special character and to build on its many strengths.
We are refurbishing the Dixon Street pagoda as a tourism information kiosk, and making significant improvements to a number of streets to support local businesses and better cater for the increasing number of tourists to the area – over one million domestic visitors each year, and 1.4 million international visitors.
Chinatown is not a museum piece but a living part of our City and a dynamic demonstration of the close and continuing links between Australia and China.
Once more, I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to our City, and thanking the Consul-General, the Chinese Government and the government of Hubei province for their terrific support of our Chinese New Year Festival.
Enjoy your stay in our city and we hope to see you here again. Thank you.