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A new public square near Macquarie Street will be named after Queen Elizabeth II and feature a monument in her honour as the NSW government pushes ahead with plans to reinvent the precinct.
The modern block adjoining the historic Registrar General’s Building in the centre of Sydney will be bulldozed later this year to make space for the outdoor plaza beside Hyde Park Barracks.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the royal tribute on Wednesday, and said the commemorative square would be named Queen Elizabeth II Place.
Perrottet said the square and monument would “remember the service and dedication of Queen Elizabeth to the great people of NSW”.
The outdoor plaza will connect The Domain’s sprawling park lands to the heritage-listed Macquarie Street east precinct, which the government intends to transform into an arts and cultural district.
Perrottet said the space would not just be a place for reflection, but a space for recreation.
“It will be a plaza for our people, and it’ll be open space [with] cafés, and the like. This is a place to gather and also connect with each other, both through the urban side and the garden side,” Perrottet said.
“The first thing is to feel the connection between the urban part of Sydney and the greenery of the Domain. And part of this Macquarie Street revitalisation … was to really enhance the connection.”
Albanese said the square would be a place Australians could enjoy for many years.
“[Sydney] is a great global city, and we need to make the most of it. This plan will do that … But it also is a plan now which will commemorate the life of Queen Elizabeth II.“
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announce the tribute to the Queen in Sydney on Wednesday.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said the site would play a critical role in revitalising central Sydney following the twin blows of the city’s lockout laws and COVID-19 restrictions. Greenwich said the commemorative square was also an opportunity to consider creative and modern ways to honour the Queen and her service, adding that he would like to see “ways of doing that beyond statues”.
City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the council was not involved in the proposal.
She said the council had “generally moved away from statue commemorations, preferring instead to find more contemporary and interpretive ways to mark history while improving our public domain”.
City of Sydney councillor and Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon was worried the decision to name the plaza for the Queen had been made too quickly and was a “political knee-jerk reaction”.
Weldon has been pushing for a statue to be erected honouring Patyegarang, a young Aboriginal woman from Sydney who shared her language and knowledge with British naval officer Lieutenant William Dawes following the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Weldon says erecting a statue of the British royal, instead of an Indigenous figure, “opens a greater divide, and a greater imbalance”.
An artist’s impression of the planned outdoor plaza linking Macquarie Street and the Domain. Credit:NSW government
“When you think about this area being named after the Queen – what connection is there to her?
“It’s bypassing all the normal planning and place naming processes, and where is the consultation?”
Weldon met King Charles at Government House a few years ago, and said he was “very interested in Aboriginal people, and recognising Aboriginal people, and in how we need to be more inclusive”.
“I think in recognising the Queen, they’re actually defying the King and some of his views.”
City of Sydney councillor and Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon says an Indigenous name should have been considered for the square.Credit:Nick Moir
Perrottet – an unabashed critic of Sydney’s brutalist architecture – said bulldozing the newer addition to the Registrar-General’s Building later this year would be “a great day of celebration”.
He said the 20-year plan to enliven the Macquarie Street east precinct aimed to ensure the strip of historic sandstone buildings was “more accessible and attractive for visitors in the 21st century”.
The government also said investigations had started for a permanent soundshell in the Domain.
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