Thursday’s sell out panel breakfast event was very insightful. Facilitated by Ty Brennock (Forsythes Recruitment) our panel included Nat McGregor (COO University of Newcastle), Peter Macadam (Director Colliers International) and Will Creedon (Chair Hunter Tourism).

Will Creedon started off the discussion by offering some insight into what Newcastle needed in order to increase its tourism. Mr Creedon articulated that “our city needs it’s own Opera House or Statute of Liberty”. He continued to state that the “old Newcastle train depot would be the ideal spot”. Mr Creedon also highlighted the importance of the airport in attracting Asian tourist to our city. “Strengthening our regional links in Asia is key for Newcastle”.

Nat McGregor continued to talk about how Newcastle could strengthen its economy. He highlighted the importance of innovation and compared Newcastle to Pittsburgh where in the early 1990s the US city was struggling due to changes in the steel industry. Pittsburgh lead by their mayor at the time Tom Murphy replaced its steel city tag for one that was focused on the future and relishing the city’s potential. Mr McGregor stated, “Newcastle needs to attract multinational corporations such as Google… We need our own Tom Murphy”

Peter Macadam highlighted the importance of Newcastle understanding “what it wants” and having a unified view on where the city is heading. “Do we want to be a Australia’s 7th largest city or do we want to be a big country town?”. Mr Macadam continued to state that in order for Newcastle to develop into a city we need a united view. “Government funding will be hard to get if we don’t not have a unified view … If we approach the government without a unified view they will take their $500m and invest it in another city”.

Transport was another topic that was discussed during the breakfast, with the panel having a united view in that public transport was key to connecting our city. Mr Creedon suggested that our transport should have its own brand identity. Mr Macadam stressed, “Newcastle doesn’t need a rail debate we need a transport strategy”.

The panelist concluded the discussion by offering their opinions on ‘Where to from here’:

  • Mr Creedon – “It’s on you; everyone of you, do your research and engage in the renewal conversation. Give momentum to change.”
  • Mr McGregor – “embrace architecture – new spaces and adaptive reuse of historical architecture.”
  • Mr Macadam – “Newcastle has some beautiful heritage buildings we need to take advantage of them.”
  • Mr Brennock – “Have the confidence to do something about this.”

 

– Daniel Velich