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Mr. Bob Walshe Mr Bob Walshe - Chairman, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre

We wish to acknowledge at the outset the generosity of the Local Government Superannuation Scheme in helping us to keep registration fees to a minimum, which hasbeen a factor in assembling such a large audience today.

There is only one change to the program advertised in the brochure that went out nationally early in December. The speaker for the midday slot, Director-General of the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning Ms Sue Holliday, withdrew eleven days ago citing personal reasons. We know there will be disappointment about this. We asked for a speech that could be read or from another speaker from the Department and we also called the Minister, Dr Refshauge, but no substitute from the Department was made available.
With only a few days left, we tried several alternatives and at last learned of a recently published book on Sydney's urban problems, Community Ties, by the State MP for the Hills district, Mr Michael Richardson, who has graciously stepped into the breach.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Forum had its genesis in a remark reported in early November from an address by the Immigration Minister to an Australian National University seminar. Mr Ruddock said: ".the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that 75 per cent of all population growth will occur in the major cities. This has prompted some to argue that the upper bounds of population growth will be linked to the capacity of these cities to absorb more people and our ability to manage and re-shape them." Hence this Forum's focus on Sydney.

Hence, too, Sutherland Shire's great interest - because, in a sense, this Shire is a microcosm of Australia's profound concern with urban change, urban growth. With 215,000 residents, we are the second largest of Sydney's 43 local government areas (after Blacktown): the population of this urban Shire is a good deal more numerous than the population of the entire Northern Territory. And yet we are only an eighteenth part of the population of Sydney.

That tells us something about the significance of those half-dozen major cities within the vastness of the Australian continent.

Remember, last year the Territory made a strong bid for statehood. Now there's a thought... Sutherland Shire has much more justification to secede from New South Wales as the seventh state! All the questions of development and overdevelopment can be found here. We continually find ourselves obliged to the confront State Government with our problems and protests - and may I say we've been looking forward to today's galaxy of speakers to teach us how to do that more effectively. The speakers represent most aspects of the complex population problem.

While the focus is on Sydney, the Forum has understandably taken on something of a national character through its wide concerns, through its speakers many of whom are nationally known, and through you, the audience who have come from far and wide. Every shade of opinion should find an opportunity for expression today: through the speakers of course, but also through audience participation - in the form, first, of the questions you choose to direct after each speaker's address; second, in the questions directed to this afternoon's Panel; third in the contribution you may wish to make to the Panel debate; and, may I add, a fourth, in all the valuable talk at morning and afternoon tea and over lunch.
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