25 Nov 2020

November News

It's been about 11 months since the initial Wuhan outbreak of COVID-19, and it is still difficult to predict the path of the virus. Each country has been hit in a different way, and response strategies have varied. While we seem to be getting closer to a vaccine, our principal defence remains through strict hygiene standards, use of masks, physical distancing and border control.

The potential for a continued threat from was one of the reasons why the Berejiklian government considered universal postal voting for the next council poll. But after representations from councils, the NSW government has ruled out postal-only voting for the local government elections next year.

You will be able to vote in person or postal-vote as always.

Check if you can vote

The next election for the City of Sydney Council will be held on Saturday 4 September 2021.

If you're a resident in the City of Sydney local area you can check if your enrolment details are up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission. You must enter your details exactly as they appear on the electoral roll. The City does not hold electoral information for local residents.

If you're not a resident, you may be entitled to vote if you own, occupy or lease property in the local area as a corporation, business or individual. Check your eligibility.

Climate Change Bill 2020

At last week's Council meeting, the City of Sydney joined the AMA in endorsing the Independent Member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, on her Climate Change (National Framework for and Mitigation) (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020. This legislation would provide a framework for a new bipartisan consensus for the country to address the challenge of accelerating global warming and meet our Paris Accord obligations.

You can read Zali's letter which I tabled at last Monday's City of Sydney Council meeting here.

You too can make a submission.


As always, I am available if you have any comments on these or any other issues. Please contact me on [email protected]








Dr Kerryn Phelps AM
Councillor, City of Sydney

Mardi Gras 2021

Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of revellers and international tourists, will not march through the city’s centre in 2021.

Instead, the 43rd edition of the parade on Oxford Street, which has been celebrated annually along the strip since 1978, will move to the nearby Sydney Cricket Ground, in a scaled-back, Covid-safe event. It is so important that the event still takes place. 

This is an important and rational decision to ensure the event can continue despite the impacts of the pandemic, but there will be impacts on the retail and social activity enjoyed by businesses on Oxford Street and its surrounds.

While this is beyond Council's control, the City has the capacity to take actions that will help to activate Oxford Street during the Mardi Gras festival to cope with the loss of the tens of thousands of Sydneysiders and visitors from around Australia and the world who gather on Oxford Street.

At our next Council meeting in December, I will be asking the City of Sydney to explore opportunities that increase foot traffic and stimulate the night-time economy on Oxford Street during next year's Festival. We could provide more outdoor dining options, commission creative and cultural activities and improve the comfort of pedestrians, encouraging people to walk, stroll or linger and enjoy Oxford Street.

Improving Transparency and Public Involvement at the City of Sydney

COVID-19 has brought many changes to the ways in which we live and work. For the City of Sydney, that means our meetings are now taking place online on Zoom.

Until now, only the audio part of our meetings were broadcasted, despite the Office of Local Government requiring meetings use audio AND VISUAL links.

Last Monday, I put forward a motion requesting the City stream both audio and visual recordings.

Council meetings are public meetings, so this means everyone can access local democracy in action.

I'm glad to announce that it was passed unanimously.

Saving Erskineville Community Garden

Bad news for the Erskineville community.

At the last council meeting, Lord Mayor Clover Moore used her casting vote to reject a motion that Erskineville Community Garden be preserved as green space.

According to the Friends of Erskineville, this valuable green space provides important social and environmental benefits, including the ability to compost and grow food locally.

It has operated entirely on volunteer efforts since 2009, without any financial support from the City of Sydney.

I also support more affordable housing and there is absolutely no reason why we can't retain this community garden and build more affordable housing.

Residents were told Council are considering another three sites for affordable housing -- two already have buildings on them and the other is a car park.

We should not be sacrificing valuable green space for development.

A far better option would be to develop another site, retain the garden and include it as an official City Of Sydney community garden with resources and support for the benefit of all of the Erskineville community.

You can listen to the debate here. The timestamp is 3:42:45.

Providing Outside School Hours Care for Working Families in Woolloomooloo

Parents from the Plunkett Street Public School asked me to help them access outside school hours care for their children. Currently after school and vacation care are available at the neighbouring, City of Sydney-run Juanita Nielsen Community Centre but this is only offered to low income or vulnerable families at no cost. Working families currently have to pay the full cost and are not able to access the Federal Government's Child Care Subsidy (CCS). This is putting working families who are eligible to access the fee reduction at a financial disadvantage.

At the next Council meeting, I will be asking the City of Sydney to register the Juanita Nielsen Community Centre so that eligible families can apply to the CCS.

I will also be requesting that childcare services are expanded to include before school care for parents who need to get to work early.

Reopening Waterloo Library

Two years ago, I worked with local residents, including the Women of Waterloo, to prevent Council's proposal to close Waterloo Library and replace services with the Green Square Library instead.

Residents felt the library in Green Square was inaccessible due to distance, the lack of public transport and busy roads, especially for vulnerable communities such as residents with disabilities, older residents and parents with young children. We all feared insufficient capacity as well: the population in neighbouring Green Square is expected to swell to 60,000 by 2030 and 700 new units are proposed to be built in the nearby Waterloo Metro Quarter by 2022.

The City of Sydney closed Waterloo Library due to COVID restrictions and I was concerned this could be used as an excuse to close the library permanently. 

I proposed a motion, asking Council to reopen Waterloo Library.

I am pleased to report that from 30th November, Waterloo Library will reopen on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm!

Protecting Our Drinking Water

On Monday, I attended the online Local Government for NSW Annual Conference, where a motion of mine opposing mining under drinking water catchments in NSW, including the proposed long-wall coal mine under Woronora Dam (one of Sydney's key drinking water catchments).

I am pleased to report that LGNSW has supported the motion, which includes:

  1. Opposing the approval of long-wall coal mines under Sydney's drinking catchments;
  2. Lobbying the NSW Government against the issue of long-wall mining approvals under Woronora reservoir, and other mines which have the potential to risk contaminating Sydney's drinking water supply; and
  3. Opposing the approval of any mines which have the potential to contaminate the drinking water supply of any community in NSW.

You can read the full motion here. It's motion 52 on page 101.

Australian Award for Excellence in Women's Leadership 2020

I was extremely honoured to accept the Australian Award for Excellence in Women's Leadership for New South Wales for 2020.

In accepting this award, I acknowledged the many women who have fought for the right to vote, who have fought and continue to fight for the right to educational opportunities, for the right to equality and safety in the workplace, for reproductive rights, for freedom from violence.

Women in leadership positions today are able to do what we do, in large part, because of those foundations laid by the generations of women before us.

I also acknowledged all of the people who work so hard without recognition to make a difference to our country and our planet.

Thank you.