(Question Time, 10 May 2017, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. Will the Minister work with me and the Woollahra and City of Sydney councils to improve the vitality, safety and amenity of Oxford Street?
Response from Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight:
I appreciate the question from the member for Sydney. This important issue has been raised also by Councillor Christine Forster, who is very motivated to improve the amenity of Oxford Street, Sydney. She knows how important it is to businesses within the Oxford Street precinct to be able to conduct their business well and to provide facilities for local residents and consumers. Oxford Street is a very popular tourist precinct, especially at that special time of year. The Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] and I, as the Minister for Roads, will continue to work with the people of Oxford Street, from Paddington to Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. I was pleased to read in an article incommercialrealestate.com.au that Oxford Street is experiencing a bit of a second coming. Some time ago Robert Clerc, a jeweller, together with his business partner and ex-wife, Michelle, bought two old buildings in Oxford Street. Their friends thought they were stark raving mad. After having those properties for many years, things are turning around. Mr Clerc said:
It's becoming vibrant all over again, people are coming back to the markets and Oxford Street is buzzing. It's now going through an amazing repositioning.
And why not? On Oxford Street there are great retailers and businesses. However, there will always be traffic challenges. The bus lane cannot be removed as it is important for transport and the removal of the clearways would mean constant traffic jams. It would be impossible to travel through the area and would totally destroy its amenity. It is important that we work together. In 2013, following talks between the RMS and the Hon. Shayne Mallard, who was an advocate for the area and is now a Liberal member of the Legislative Council, the RMS adjusted the clearway operations by an hour. The clearway used to come into operation at 3.00 p.m. We changed it to 4.00 p.m. to improve the amenity for consumers and shopkeepers. We will continue to work with businesses, whether they are in Oxford Street, Sydney, Belgrave Street in Kempsey, or anywhere in New South Wales. This Government is about assisting businesses in this State to keep New South Wales number one.