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The leaders behind Greater Sydney’s future

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News | The Greater Sydney Commission today announced the expert team who will lead the thinking and planning for Greater Sydney for the next four years.

Responding to the big issues raised by our city and our time, the Greater Sydney Commissioners provide city shaping thought leadership that informs strategic planning for Greater Sydney. They drive A Metropolis of Three Cities: a bold vision for three, integrated and connected cities that are highly productive, liveable and sustainable.

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and recent global reckonings all have profound ongoing impacts and implications for how we imagine cities. In a time of intensely accelerated trends and fundamentally shifted priorities, environmental sustainability and the need to tackle social inequalities are writ large alongside transport, land use and technological innovation.

The appointments of Ms Meg McDonald and Ms Natalie Walker, as Environment and Social Commissioners respectively, come at an exciting time for the Commission as it embarks on its review of the Greater Sydney Region Plan and District Plans.

Chief Commissioner Geoff Roberts AM said:

“I am thrilled that Meg McDonald and Natalie Walker will be taking such important roles with the Commission, bringing their extensive expertise as we transform Greater Sydney as a metropolis of three iconic cities.

Ms McDonald brings a wealth of experience that will be vital to long-term planning that confronts the climate emergency. Ms Walker brings wide-ranging experience in health, human rights and human services, and importantly brings First Nations lived experience and knowledge to the Commission’s work. 

Together, their focus on the social and environmental needs of Greater Sydney will be vital in ensuring our plans make our eastern, central and western cities even greater places to live.”

As key holders of the relationships within their districts, District Commissioners ensure the work of the Region Plan is cascaded into District Plans, and the ground up work done by local government and other entities is leveraged into the District Plans. Dr Deborah Dearing (Eastern City and North District) and Mr Peter Poulet (Central City and South District) have been reappointed, providing invaluable continuity for the review of the Plans.

“I’m delighted that Deborah Dearing and Peter Poulet will continue to serve as District Commissioners, alongside Western City District Commissioner Elizabeth Dibbs. They are our connective tissue with councils, and their wisdom and steady hands have been invaluable to our interactions with local government.

Recruitment of a new Economic Commissioner is underway, following the resignation of Ms Jackie Taranto for personal reasons.

Greater Sydney’s success is vital to drive NSW and national economies, secure a good quality of life for all citizens, and hand down even greater opportunities to the next generation. Underpinning the Commission’s work is ensuring that Greater Sydney’s future is inclusive and sustainable, and placing housing, jobs, infrastructure and services within easier reach of more residents, no matter where they live.

“Unified in their deep commitment to Greater Sydney’s excellence, this cohort of outstanding thematic and district commissioners will ensure the vision for Greater Sydney is responsive, contemporary and at the leading edge of city shaping. This is great news for Greater Sydney,” Mr Roberts said.

The newly and re-appointed Commissioners will commence four-year terms commencing September 2021.


Commissioner Biographies

Geoff Roberts AM (Chief Commissioner) was appointed as Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission in April 2020, having served as the Deputy Chief Commissioner and Economic Commissioner from late 2015. Over his career, Mr Roberts has been involved, on behalf of governments and the private sector, in the key economic challenges and opportunities facing cities. He has 35 years of experience in Australia and internationally working on city strategy, governance and leadership and has a deep history in decision-making around the delivery of integrated land use and infrastructure programs. In June 2019, Mr Roberts was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his significant service to urban planning and development. 

Deborah Dearing (Eastern City and North District Commissioner) is widely recognised for her leadership in improving the design quality of cities and communities. She has over 30 years of international experience in urban design, strategic land-use planning, heritage conservation, affordable housing and property development in both public and private sectors. Dr Dearing has held senior executive roles with the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Architectus and Stockland.

Natalie Walker (Social Commissioner) has held senior leadership positions in the areas of aboriginal employment, human rights, health and human services. She was founder and managing director of Inside Policy and was the CEO of Supply Nation. Ms Walker has also sat on the Indigenous Advisory groups for a range of corporations, including Telstra, National Australia Bank and the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Meg McDonald (Environment Commissioner) has worked across the environmental sustainability, strategic planning, transport and energy portfolios, in both private and public sector roles. Previously the former Chief Operating Officer of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and CEO of Low Carbon Australia, Ms McDonald also has held senior roles at Alcoa Australia along with high-level diplomatic appointments, including as Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment.

Peter Poulet (Central City and South District Commissioner) has over 30 years' experience in private and government architectural offices and is a former NSW Government Architect. A champion of collaborative links between the public and private sector, Peter has fostered design-led approaches across government, industry and academia, with his projects receiving numerous awards.

Elizabeth Dibbs (Western City Commissioner) is a non-executive director in the government and for-purpose sectors. She is Deputy Chancellor of Western Sydney University, Chairman of United Way Australia and a Governor of the Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology. She was the President of YWCA NSW from 2007-2011 and a director of YWCA Australia from 2009 to 2013. She has also previously served as a Council Member of Chief Executive Women and Chair of its Scholarship Committee.