A column Stephen wrote whilst Lord Mayor…
It is easy to stereotype local government as “rates, roads and rubbish”, but in the 21st Century nothing could be further from the truth, especially when it’s a capital city in what is the century of cities. The City of Adelaide is well and truly in the business of life – if they don’t deal with your issue they should know who does and help you connect to them.
As Lord Mayor my responsibility has been far beyond the council boundary defined by our historic parklands; whoever wins this election will be the Chairman of all of the Lord Mayors of Australia and be charged with furthering the national urban policy agenda. They will meet with the Prime Minister to put the case as to why Local Government, and the role it plays in developing our cities, is a critical part of Australia’s nation building.
The design of our major cities is crucial in providing livability, your quality of life; it determines access to housing, health, education, libraries, cultural facilities and transport, parks and shops in a safe environment. Whilst Federal and State Governments play a key role, its councils that are often the implementer or gate keepers of action on the ground.
That said, by their very nature Australia’s Lord Mayors have a big picture view on cities, especially around infrastructure that boost productivity and jobs, energy efficiency, housing affordability and city safety. Australia is also facing serious challenges around population and the capacity of our cities to manage change will determine the economic prosperity of all Australians.
Our major cities generate 80 per cent of our GDP and house nearly 75% of our workforce. Without appropriate planning and execution at the local level we also risk compromising our productivity and economic competitiveness, hence Local Government is a key player in defining Australia’s future role in the global economy.
Councils are complex and I hope my 25 years of experience in planning and managing cities is seen as an asset to Adelaide. They are there to build safe, healthy, prosperous and sustainable communities and in doing so help define what being Australian is all about.
It has been a true privilege to be work with such quality people focused on what is important to you, your life and that of your children and grandchildren. It is my hope that when people vote in this election they don’t vote for self-interest, but see a bigger picture of the role a Lord Mayor plays in the entire City, state and Nation.