Thank you to New World Magazine for inviting me to speak and to celebrate Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, with you all tonight. I would like to acknowledge the organisers of this event and special guests including Jonathan O-Dea, MP, NSW Member for Davidson and Tony Dormer, President of the NSW Business Chamber. I would like to acknowledge that we are on traditional Aboriginal land and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
Towards the end of the last calendar year there were two positive developments that I believe will continue to enhance the Australia/China relationship and provide opportunities for City of Sydney residents and businesses into the future.
The first relates to the formal declaration of intent to proceed with the Australia China Free Trade Agreement. As many of you will know there is a long history of trade relations between the two countries. There is also a long history of Chinese commerce in Australia and more specifically in the City of Sydney. In fact, the first Chinese owned store was established on Campbell Street in Sydney in 1858… that’s over 150 years ago.
If we look at the present we can see that China is now Australia’s largest trading partner. China’s top five commercial banks and financial institutions are represented through offices and headquarters in central Sydney… the future looks bright.
The second positive development relates to the recent establishment of the City of Sydney Economic Development and Business Sub-Committee and my role as Deputy Chair. This new sub-committee will specifically focus on economic development and strategy, global city relationships, trade and marketing, small business, operational and promotional issues relating to restaurants and hotels village economies and tourism. Issues that are relevant to many people in this room tonight.
It is through the scope of this committee that I can see a lot of positive synergies between the objectives of Chinese business owners and operators and the City of Sydney, as well as the wider community, visitors from China and other countries whether it be to conduct business, trade, visit as a tourist or study.
So what do we know about the Chinese population of the City of Sydney? Compared to other Sydney regions we have a higher percentage of people who were born in China with Ultimo and Haymarket leading the way in relation to their Chinese population. It’s not only residents and business owners that are drawn to this vibrant City, we can see that thousands of Chinese students each year choose to undertake studies at our world class universities located in the LGA.
Tourism from China is also on the rise in the Sydney region with 60% of inbound Chinese tourists visiting the Sydney LGA during their stay in Australia. The New South Wales Government has predicted that over the 10 year period 2020/21 tourism from China will contribute more than $2.1 billion in annual expenditure to the NSW Visitor economy and be directly responsible for 13,900 jobs. I hope that many of those visitors choose to make Sydney a must see destination on their itineraries.
Sophie from New World magazine asked me to talk about my vision for the City. In this, the Year of the Sheep we can see that Sydney is a truly global city. Each day nearly half a million visitors and students come to the city to visit, work, learn and more. There are over 21,500 separate businesses established in the LGA with a large percentage of the top 500 companies calling the city home. Sydney is a diverse city with nearly half of its residents born overseas with 34% of them coming from countries where English was not their first language, I am the daughter of Greek Migrant parents and I did not speak English myself when I first went to school.
I have a vision for city that is founded on inclusiveness and sustainable progress. I believe that Sydney is the jewel in Australia’s crown and it is my role as an elected representative in local government to ensure that Sydney shines to her fullest potential.
I am very much looking forward to the coming year where I will once again work towards developing a truly global city where fortunes are shared and where our diverse community is valued. Chinese New Year is a time for reflection, it is a time for family and it is a time to celebrate and I am very much looking forward to taking part in the many events that will be held at as part of the Chinese New Year festival in the City of Sydney. The Year of the Sheep is about peace, harmony and tranquillity and I wish you all of those things and more for the year ahead.