Geoff made his first speech today. He is a man who understands what Parramatta is about.
Inaugural Speech, Geoff Lee, MP for Parramatta, 11 May 2011
I rise in the right of reply to Her Excellency, the Governor Marie Bashir's opening address of the 55th Parliament of NSW.
It is an honour and privilege to address the chamber today as the Member for Parramatta.
The first people of Parramatta were the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug. They lived along the upper-reaches of the Parramatta River and can be traced back some 60,000 years. The river was focus of daily life as it was during colonisation for food, fresh water and transport. Anyone who has visited the seat of Parramatta knows of its beauty and bounty.
However, today, I am not going to talk about the beauty and bounty of Parramatta.
Instead, today, I want to talk about the conundrum that is Parramatta. Perhaps the title of my first speech should be “What to do with Parramatta?”
To address this question, I will talk about Parramatta as the future powerhouse of the NSW. Sydney CBD is almost full and future growth will be in Sydney's Western Suburbs. There is the need to integrate the Parramatta CBD with that of the Sydney's CBD, which will entail decentralising business activities and services.
The talk will answer 3 questions
- The importance of Parramatta as an integrated part of the Sydney's CBD
- My motivation to lead the electorate of Parramatta
- What I am going to do
Sydney doesn't know what to do with Parramatta. I say this as from the first days of colonisation, Parramatta was set up as the capital. However, it became obvious that Sydney Cove was the hub of commercial activity. The conundrum still exists.
- What will be the relationship between Parramatta and Sydney?
- How can the tensions be resolved for the betterment of all NSW?
Arthur Phillip was instrumental in establishing Parramatta's first hospital, barracks to maintain law and order, he laid out the town plan and built the first Government House in Parramatta Park. It is of note that until the 1850s many governors chose to rule from Parramatta rather than Sydney.
Arthur Phillip began the city, and today, whilst it has changed from agriculture to industry, the legacy of health, law and order and the focus on productivity remains.
- The LGA has grown to 170,000 residents and 90,000 jobs
- It has vibrant retail, entertainment and leisure, education and business service precincts
- It's an economic zone estimated to be worth $10 billion per annum to the state's economy
- Is home to the mighty Parramatta Eels
The unified whole of Manhattan is now a major commercial, financial, and cultural centre of both the United States and the world.
The CDB is just one part of the Parramatta electorate. The electorate is made up of the suburbs of Wentworthville, Westmead, North Parramatta, Oatlands, Telopea, Dundas, Ermington, Rydalmere, Harris Park, Rosehill and where I live Parramatta.
These suburbs offer the choice of city living or leafy green suburban streets, ideal for singles, bring-up-a-family or retiring to enjoy life.
With such opportunity, it no wonder why people from around the world choose to make Parramatta their home. In fact, 44 percent of Parramatta residents were born overseas, and two thirds of the have at least one parent born overseas. We are home to large and active communities from nations in North-East Asia, Middle-East, as well as having the largest South-Asian community in NSW.
As a community and as a society, we are richer for the presence of such a diverse mix of cultures and the contribution that they make to modern, multi-cultural Australia.
People seeking opportunity come to Parramatta – just as my ancestors came from the United Kingdom with some arriving on the second fleet and from Southern China up to 140 years ago. They contributed to the growth of Parramatta where they worked as carpenters and bricklayers in the early days, and later in the building of the railway to the west. My Chinese great-grandfather had a market garden on the banks of Duck Creek at Guildford, where he provided food for many of his neighbours during the Great Depression.
People often ask me "Why I entered politics?"
Having built a successful small business and a senior role at the University of Western Sydney, I wanted the opportunity to put skills and experience to realise the potential that is Parramatta.
- Parramatta is NOT just the second CBD…it’s the capital of Western Sydney
- We have
- An established finance, insurance and business service sectors
- the second largest legal precinct in NSW
- the largest health precinct in Australia, Westmead
- And Parramatta has the opportunity to service the whole of Western Sydney, the future growth areas of Sydney
Clearly, I'm not the first to recognise Parramatta's potential. The Durug clan recognised it, Arthur Phillip recognised it and in 1991, I recognised it.
In 1991, I sold everything I had, borrowed money from my mum and dad to start a garden centre and landscaping business. A business that would grow over the next 10 years to employ many locals, serve the community and along the way, we were fortunate to win some awards.
For those of you who have been involved in small business, you'll know that having a business is rewarding as you build it and tough at times when things go wrong.
Working 7 days a week for 10 years and being responsible for the livelihood of staff gives you an appreciation for pressures of small business.
Today, NSW relies on its 640,000 small businesses as employers, innovators and for their significant economic contribution. A business community that must be encouraged to prosper, enterprise fuels our economy…Small business in my DNA as it is in the Liberal DNA.
Whilst working for myself, I studied part-time for an MBA and started my doctorate. I have always been passionate about life-long learning – education - and after selling my business was fortunate to join the University of Western Sydney. Working at UWS allowed me to contribute to thousands of students' advancement.
It is clear that the economic prosperity of a nation is closely linked to educational attainment. In other words, the more educated people are, the more wealth is created. Increased education equals increased GDP.
As a government, our imperative is to ensure NSW has the best education system with the best schools, VET providers and universities.
People also ask me "What I'm going to do?"
As Parramatta's LEADER of CHANGE, my vision for Parramatta is a place where we can work and live in a safe environment. Parramatta must seize the opportunity to become the engine-room of the NSW economy, to become the economic 'food-bowl' for NSW as the centre for commerce and employment for Western Sydney.
To do this, we must:
- Plan for the unification of Sydney's CBD and Parramatta's CBD – it is inevitable with the growth of Sydney's Western Suburbs. We have started decentralisation of some government departments, such as the law courts, police and Sydney Water. We are already are a hub for financial services, accounting firms and business services but we need to do more.
- Maintain the balance between sustainable development and preservation of our suburbs
- Create local jobs by removing barriers to private and public investment
- Preserve our historic buildings and sites
- And celebrate diverse cultural heritages
- Provide an integrated, accessible and convenient public transport systems
- Develop a vibrant arts, food, and theatre cultural precincts
- Have great universities where students are part of the town and the university is an integral part of the local community
As Parramatta's LEADER of CHANGE
- I'll fight for a greater share of resources for Parramatta, greater because Parramatta is not just a suburb, it’s a metropolis that services the whole of Western Sydney.
- Western Sydney is already home 1.8m people, that close to 1 in 10 people in Australia live in Western Sydney, it's an $80 billion economy
- And it is predicted that Western Sydney will grow by another 2 million people over the next 50 years – it is inevitable that Sydney's expansion will be West of Parramatta
- Premier Barry O'Farrell, for his constant support of Parramatta and for holding the election night out event in Parramatta and choosing to be Minister for Western Sydney.
- For the many then-shadow ministers who made the trip to Parramatta to support my campaign: Jillian Skinner, Adrian Piccoli, Mike Gallacher, Brad Hazzard, Chris Hartcher, Gladys Berejiklian, Mike Baird, Greg Pearce, Andrew Constance, Greg Smith, Pru Goward and Anthony Roberts. The fact that so many of you were so willing to take the trip speaks volumes about the new government's commitment to Parramatta and Greater Western Sydney
- The Liberal Party for its unwavering assistance through some difficult campaign moments
I am indebted to Charles Camenzul, Campaign Director and team Camenzuli. Charles and his family put their lives on hold to dedicate themselves to a Liberal win in Parramatta. Likewise the campaign volunteers did a massive job, day and night and, of course, on the day.
Thanks go also to the rest of the Parramatta campaign team: James Wallace, Mitchell Potts, Kevin Costello and Darren Klower as well as the many local party members who lent their support: Chris With, Andrew Bide, Mary Mackman, Therese Camenzuli, Colin Robinson, Kate Geddes, Stuart Mead, Lorraine Doyle, Linda Durrant, Vale Sloane, Amanda Rose and so many others. I'd also like to acknowledge the support of Damien Jones and the Wakehurst conference, who went above and beyond in providing carloads of willing campaign workers weekend after weekend.
And of course, there's my Mum and dad, who have always supported my endeavours and continue to be an important part of my life.
And finally to the people of Parramatta, those people that have entrusted me to represent them.
I will listen to them and make decisions based upon common sense, fairness and equity.
They say "the more things change the more they stay the same".
Today, we face similar challenges to those of Arthur Phillip over 200 years ago; law and order, health, planning and governance.
I first started this address by asking the question
'What to do with Parramatta?'
The conundrum exists, Parramatta has been treated as the little brother of Sydney's CBD, and sibling rivalry has been rife. How can we take advantage of the opportunities that Parramatta affords?
Sydney has only one way to grow and that is West. I want to see Parramatta akin to Manhattan and NY City's Central Park. I want to see Parramatta as the western centre of tomorrow’s Sydney City.
Sydney CBD is virtually full. Expansion of jobs will come from the west, new homes will be developed in the north-west and south-west sectors of Sydney. The inevitable expansion will be west of Parramatta.
When I think about Parramatta, I think of opportunity. Arthur Phillip recognised that opportunity. Thousands of residents and businesses have recognised that opportunity…
I'll be knocking on Minister's doors…
- To get our share of resources and infrastructure
- to provide Sydney with a powerhouse to drive NSW growth to be the Number 1 State in Australia.