Tony Abboud, RBF’s CEO Club Chair, gave the following speech at the City of Ryde’s council meeting on 9 June. We have reproduced it for the information of our members and the wider business community.
Ryde is the heart of the inner circle of Sydney.
It is a unique blend of five town centres, major three educational facilities, two hospitals, potentially the 4th biggest Commercial hub in Australia and a National Park!
Ryde is a mix of synergies and diversity that blend together to create a safe, vibrant and balanced community.
This special community cannot be broken up into separate pieces!
The State Government’s proposal of dividing Ryde into two, will undo years of collaboration between the Council, the business community and the community at large.
The Ryde community does not accept that there are only two options: stay as we are or merge.
The City of Ryde (in conjunction with Hunters Hills and Lane Cove Council’s) has created a viable THIRD option.
The proposed Joint Regional Authority, will allow the City of Ryde to continue with its vision and help take the management of our City to a whole new level.
It is an option that retains the integrity of each Council and allows Ryde to continue with the vison that has been formed over many years and is currently being implemented.
It is an option that allows the formation of an association of Councils where there is geographic and demographic synergies.
It is an option that allows for economies of scale and effectiveness in the provision of services to the communities of all 3 councils.
Most importantly, it allows the maintenance of the integrity of each community.
It allows the City of Ryde to continue with evolving its vison of Macquarie Park as one of the premier commercial, educational, retail and technology hubs in Australia.
As a community, we are not prepared to give Macquarie Park away. This City created Macquarie Park.
We don’t want another Council to take advantage and credit for what we have created.
The City of Ryde now has a great team in our staff and strong leadership, headed by our General Manager, Gail Connelly and our elected Councillors.
The staff here at the City of Ryde are one of the most committed, competent and loyal group of people, working in any Council. I have had interactions with many Councils in my 35 years of business in Ryde and none are better than the team we have at Ryde. We don’t want to lose this team and go to a “call centre” approach to managing our City.
Likewise, in our Councillors, we have a very good cross section of representation. This means that all sections of the community can have a voice in the management and future of our City.
If we allow the State Government to divide us, our 12 councillors would be reduced to 2. We cannot let this happen.
Last Monday night, our General Manager, presented to the business community an update on Council’s activities. Gail’s presentation highlighted things like:
- $2.5m of efficiency gains being achieved annually
- $5.9m increase in project expenditure
- $3.9m increase in asset renewal
- $1.0m reduction in debt balance
- $5.6m increase in revenue
- New Projects (Total $8,963,000) 2015/2016
This is a Council that is well managed. That is a fact!!
Likewise Dominic Johnson, gave us an overview of the scope and sheer number of development applications that are currently being assessed by the City of Ryde. There are over 700 development applications being assessed annually.
We cannot allow outside people to determine these applications. These are local development applications that need to be assessed locally, by people who understand the dynamics of this City.
As I understand it, our development applications are assessed based on their viability today and also their impact on our community in the long run. An outsider can never do this as effectively as our council can.
Why would you destroy something that is working? Why would you destroy something where there is focus, where there is a plan and where there is a great team implementing this plan?
The final point I would like to mention is the connection that the City of Ryde has with the business community and the community at large. The way this Council interacts with the community is a model for many other Councils.
The relationship and cooperation with the business community, is evidenced by such things as the MOU with the Ryde Business Forum and the relationship with the Chambers of Commerce; the work done together to support the Parramatta to Macquarie Park Light Rail proposal; the Economic Development Advisory Committee (originally set up by Councillor Silvestro-Martin); and the Macquarie Park Forum.
Likewise, the relationship with the community at large is best demonstrated by the campaign that Council took to the community last year, to ask for a Special Rates variation. That campaign was in our opinion one of the best managed and most transparent processes done by a Council. This is evidenced by the fact that the community was prepared to support Council, in successfully seeking a Special Rate Variation from the State Government.
You cannot allow this relationship with the community to be diluted. Splitting Ryde into two will destroy the bond, communication and transparency that Council has with the community.
We would like to congratulate you in your foresight, for coming up with a viable third option for the State government to consider.
The business community and I’m sure the community at large, wants to retain our Council, and is prepared to support it in proposing to the State Government a Joint Regional Authority between Ryde, Hunters Hill and Lane Cove.
Ryde Business Forum
9th June 2015