I’ve worked with the Sydney Food Trucks and enjoyed their great variety of foods on many a fun filled sunny day outdoors with friends. I think the City of Sydney and Clover Moore are doing a great job with this sort of popup, flexible, customer focused, evolving, friendly food concept.

There are some people who are against the idea – cafe owners, restaurant owners and some residence.

Complaints from business owners and residents about potential loss of trade, parking and noise have prompted a proposal for stricter controls on how the nine trucks operate, including a possible ban on trading in front of homes.

But research shows Sydneysiders have welcomed the food truck concept, which the City of Sydney says is generating trade and making the city safer.

There are two very powerful and passionate groups of people involved in this debate.

The Regulators
Sydney loves to add red tape to anything that moves.

If the city could pad on another public liability insurance requirement or noise restriction to our bedrooms they would. It’s a sad result of our over-cautious-anglo-insurance-driven-risk-adverse-anti-social heritage. We love to put up a fence. We love to ‘make things safer’ at the cost of celebrating individual liberty and freedom.

Whenever I return to my beloved Sydney I’m shocked by the bland, safe, quite, empty, gray nature of the many public spaces around the city. We ask for safety and we get emptiness.

It’s great to see Clover Moore doing excellent work to help change this. Personally, she has been incredible inspiration with my work on World Musician Day. We were very lucky to have had the support of Sydney Food Trucks at our event too! They added some great Mexican dishes.

I see these concerns about the food trucks as a mad stab for more control. Control over something that is honestly a small and organic concept. Food trucks are a great new, relatively small, flexible initiative that encourages a more live, local and accessible community spirit.

These food trucks do present a few challenge. For the majority of people, they offer something quite profound. Creative popup spaces and gatherings can now include top quality food at an affordable price. If on occasion this mobile food suppliers collide with already established cafes then so be it. The last thing we want to do is run this concept into the ground!

To the stale empty cafes around town I say this… If the trucks are out-doing your business, go sell your cafe and buy a truck.

The Land Owners
People who own land in this city need a reality check.

Ever since we colonised the place the land owners have had a wicked chip on their shoulder. There is something completely irrational about land owners in Sydney. People own land in Australia like people own guns in America.

The problem is quite obvious. The trucks are undercutting the shops. I don’t believe there are substantial numbers of residence who give two hoots. What I find most fascinating about the debate is that Australia gives air time to the notion of regulating this issue in favour of the land based services.

Shops pay fit out costs to the tune of $500k, $100k rent, $10k land tax, $10k council rates, $15k power bills, etc. These fees go towards all the necessary costs involved in running a local business.

Food truck also pay costs. Fit out costs of $250k, licences, power bills etc. These costs go towards the necessary cost that go towards running a vehicle and a small portable shop. The truck pays less fees but does that not make perfect sense?!

Given that there are less than 10 food trucks operating in Sydney I honestly think these complaints are irrational and driven by some fear of the nomad / travelling / moving community. Isn’t this sort of flexible creative youthful spirit the sort of thing we want to embrace?

In my work as an event manager for musicians I’ve found similar issues with the way Sydney venues engage with the community. Setting ticket prices way too high and creating a suffocating exclusive music market. The Sydney community are starving for more live and local accessible music. I blame the regulators and the property owners for stifling the Sydney music industry.

The least we can do is follow in the foots steps of cities like Melbourne and London and open up our doors in celebration of diversity and competition.

Photo: Tamara Dean