\ The Future of Sydney Lies in Our Hands: staying Australia’s no:1 city – Committee For Sydney

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The Future of Sydney Lies in Our Hands: staying Australia’s no:1 city

May 2, 2014

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Author: John Lehmann

On current trends, Melbourne overtakes Sydney as Australia’s biggest city in 2053. As we find it hard to believe that Sydney can continue to be Australia’s global city while being No 2 – or that Sydneysiders want that to happen – we believe that there needs to be a dynamic response from government, business and the community to this wake up call. We can and must remain the nation’s No 1 city but only if we take radical and concerted action now.

To help identify what will be required we have set up a 2054 Taskforce, made up of leading business figures and big city thinkers, with one objective: to ensure Sydney remains both the biggest and best Australian city as well as a leading global city in the Asia-Pacific region.

Melbourne is growing faster partly because it has managed to ensure its housing stays more affordable. Melbourne also has more jobs that are accessible within an hour’s travel. To add insult to injury, Melbourne – aided by local council amalgamations and greater collaboration between tiers of government – has a long term plan that sets out just how they’re going to beat us.

Sydney is growing. It’s just doing so in a haphazard way and without a coordinated vision, supported by its citizens, that embraces our growing population needs, our economy, our infrastructure or even the basic liveability of Sydney. We have no strategy in place to stay No 1. And with our 40 councils there is no single voice or forum for Sydney through which a ‘One Sydney’ vision and strategy can be developed.

We need to get our act together like we did for the Olympics.  We must develop a vision for Sydney at mid century that plans for a vibrant yet balanced city of almost 7 million.

A Sydney 2054 strategy, developed collaboratively across all tiers of government and capturing the imagination of Sydneysiders, must overcome the lack of metropolitan leadership and disjointed approach created by a multitude of small local councils and poor coordination across government. Business-as-usual will not keep us No 1, something we believe our new Premier gets.

Our strategy must be ambitious and coordinated. It must integrate jobs, liveability and urban development, transport and housing connectivity, productivity, social participation, governance and infrastructure investment.

It must bring together the west and the east of Sydney in a ‘One Sydney’ approach. Only then can we create a prosperous and equitable Sydney that deserves its title as Australia’s Global city.

So we are creating a Sydney 2054 Taskforce comprised of experts across a wide range of specialisms and united by ambition, a global mindset, a passion for Sydney and an urgency around creating a sustainable 2054 vision for a global Sydney. And because we are developing a vision for our city for 40 years from now we have provided the Taskforce with a sounding board of Sydney’s Future Leaders. We urgently need the ambitions and new thinking of our talented young leaders to put Sydney on the right path.

This vision will not be ‘more of the same but bigger’. Sydney must be better as well. We must capitalise on innovation in new economic sectors and the incredible assets Sydney and its people offer. We must ask the questions that others are not and  understand the key forces and policies which will drive Sydney to greater success – and the key barriers to overcome. Above all, we need to challenge traditional thinking.

While this initiative will be led by the Committee and its members from business, community, private sector and government, it is not confined to them. We want the community of Sydney to shape this strategy. So we will call for evidence and involvement from all those across Greater Sydney who share our passion for Sydney and a determination to make it even more successful.

We know already some of what we need to do. We must grow in a way that improves the liveability of the city.  We must fix Sydney’s infamous urban sprawl that causes some of us to commute for up to 90 minutes each way every day. We must explore ways to make Sydney’s housing more affordable and put jobs closer to where people live. We must work towards a model where all Sydneysiders have an opportunity to benefit from Sydney’s growth.

This is an opportunity to create the future of Sydney, and that future lies in our hands. Hands up those who want to be No 2? We didn’t think so either.

by Dr Rob Lang, Chair of the Committee’s Sydney 2054 Taskforce and former CEO of Parramatta City Council;
Lucy Hughes Turnbull, AO, Chair, Committee for Sydney; and
Dr Tim Williams, CEO, Committee for Sydney

See more here.

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