Where is Newcastle on the world stage?

Tessa Boer-Mah 10 Oct 2019


The beautifully lit Victoria Theatre was a buzz of excitement for the opening of the Smaller and Smarter Cities International Symposium. With a line up of speakers to give us unique insights into our place in the world and more importantly how we create our future city.

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Beautifully lit interior of the Victoria Theatre Newcastle NSW

In case you missed it, here are the key highlights….

In case Novocastrians were getting complacent about needing to envisage a future for the region, we were reminded by Professor Alex Zelinsky that currently 48% of coal exports out of our port goes to Japan and yet Japan is taking big steps to move away from coal. The 2020 Olympic games in Japan will be carbon neutral and this is signaling Japans future direction in terms of energy.

Greg Khoury, Director of Century Venues, who owns the Victoria Theatre “The Mighty Vic”, highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships in revitalising old theatres, but also that theatres are serious draw cards for stimulating growth in cities. He made the point that theatres contribute culturally and economically to revitalising cities by creating ‘theatre precincts.’ For instance, the Enmore Theatre in Sydney contributes $30 million annually to the local economy by bringing people into the theatre precinct.

Do we diversify or specialise? Professor Andrew Beer gave us insights into the merits of diversifying or specialising our local economy. Essentially it goes on a sliding scale, specialisation is really advantageous for early economic growth, but as you grow your per capita income, diversification can really help consolidate your economy; ultimately, however, to achieve maximum per capita income specialisation is the way to go.

The panel answered a diverse set of questions, we heard about the emerging hydrogen economy, innovation in the health space and underwater autonomous vehicles.

The Smaller and Smarter Cities International Symposium is set to stimulate discussion and action on bringing Newcastle to the world stage.

Sound good? You might still be able to secure a ticket for the Friday sessions.

Key Speakers for the opening night

MC: Kyle Loades, Chairman, Non-Executive Director, Advisor – CUA, Yellow

Speaker: Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, Vice-Chancellor and President – University of Newcastle

Speaker: Greg Khoury – Director of Century Venues

Keynote speaker: Professor Andrew Beer, Dean of Research and Innovation at the UniSA Business School

Panel Moderator: Monica Gibson, Director Regions, Hunter and Central Coast – NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment:


Tony Wood, Energy Program Director – Grattan Institute

Dr Ramsey Awad, Executive Director of Infrastructure & Planning, Hunter New England Health

Elizabeth Karpiel, General Manager Operations – BlueZone Group

Professor Andrew Beer, Dean of Research and Innovation at the UniSA Business School

Smaller and Smart Cities Symposium is brought to us by the University of Newcastle.

Please note the above summary is entirely my recollection, any omissions or error lay entirely with me.

Dinner was fabulous by the way 😊 Thanks to the Mighty Vic and Sprout catering.



Written by

Tessa Boer-Mah