Some have questioned why so many people were outraged over a projection on the Opera House. "It's not painted on there," said our Prime Minister. We should all just stop being so "precious". But some places are precious, and this is one of them. What this travesty represents, projecting promo for a horse race onto a world heritage icon, is the privatising of the public realm, which this NSW government has made their legacy. Thousands came together to draw a line in the sand and say this was a step too far. #NSWisnotforsale
Photo by Nathan Ward, https://www.instagram.com/butterboyphotography/
It was wonderful to speak at the opening night of Antenna Film Festival. Now in its eighth year, this festival brings world-leading documentaries to Sydney & showcases local filmmakers too, so I’m so glad it’s supported by the City of Sydney.
My hot picks are: The Eviction, by Blue Lucine, which follows the stories of long-time Millers Point residents being forced out of their community, and Happy Sad Man, by Genevieve Bailey, which offers a nuanced & emotional exploration of masculinity in Australia today. It was fab to hit the red carpet with director Genevieve Bailey, artist (& film subject) David Capra, & local legend/artist Blak Douglas.
It was a privilege to represent the City of Sydney today, alongside staff member David Beaumont, giving evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition, talking about the City’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel. Photo by Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.
I represented the City of Sydney at the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battles of Third Ypres at the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park. This was a gathering of the families and friends of the First AIF, remembering those who served in some of the most difficult and deadly battles to liberate Belgium during World War 1.
Newtown’s Asylum Seekers Centre is one of Sydney’s great treasures: an organisation powered by volunteers and donations, that gives new arrivals to Australia the kind of welcome and support they need to become active contributors to our community.
They help over 2500 people every year with access to food, healthcare, job and education opportunities, all on funding that is less than one full time role.
They need our help to keep their doors open. The need for support has increased 5x over the past 5 years - so they need regular monthly givers to keep the service going. I’ve been a monthly giver for the past year and it has been one way to feel more empowered and positive about how we treat some of the people who turn to us for help.
Can you spare $25 a month to help? From now till May 15 I’ll be working with the Asylum Seekers Centre to get 5 new regular givers every day. Please click on the link below and join us: I’d love to give you a shout-out and thanks if you can be part of the community of support.
Very excited to be speaking at Sydney Writers Festival on May 3, alongside some brilliant arts/public realm/nightlife/culture creative thinkers, about one of my favourite topics: how we can help our city live up to its potential. Check out the event here.
We know we need more affordable & social housing in Sydney, and while the City of Sydney is doing everything in our power to deliver it, we need the State government to give us the power to set levies, and we need them to set more ambitious affordable housing targets for the big projects (Bays Precinct, Central to Eveleigh, Redfern Waterloo) that they control.
What should we demand from our public realm? How do we create local distinctiveness, and create room for grit and authenticity, when so much of our city is being redeveloped at once in massive projects? How do we ensure Sydney's charms and opportunities are accessible and evenly distributed in a #cityforall?
These are the big conversations in an age of accelerated development: I really enjoyed being able to discuss these crucial topics for citymakers at this #IWD2018 event hosted by Bates Smart, with Kim Crestani (Architect, City of Parramatta), Sophie Pickett-Heaps (Co-Head of Design, Stockland) and Kellie Payne (Studio Director, Bates Smart)
One of the goals of the City's Creative City cultural policy was to help young people access more cultural and creative opportunities: the Playwave connects 15-19 year olds with super cheap tickets to events and performances, and helps them find their way into the creative world.
It was fantastic to see Lord Mayor Clover Moore launch Playwave at Darlinghurst's beautiful Eternity Playhouse.
Do you know someone who might want to dive into Playwave? Check it out: https://playwave.com.au/
There's been a lot of chatter/op-eds/talkback recently about Sydney being "full". Sydney isn't full - it just needs to be designed more thoughtfully - and with equality, quality & sustainability in mind.
On October 29, Lord Mayor Clover Moore launched the Sydney City Farm Community Farm (I was on cake duty) at Sydney Park. Sydney Park is a real urban oasis, with a dog pond, regenerated wetlands, bike training course and, soon, a top-notch skate park. With 60,000 people moving into Green Square, 7,000 in Ashmore & thousands more down the road in Mascot, we need more green space & high-quality public realm.
A day earlier, we opened two new roads in Green Square, ready with separated cycleways, which will connect our beautiful library & plaza, Drying Green Park, Joynton Ave Creative Centre, childcare & community shed.... This is density done well. Will the people of NSW Govt "priority precincts" like Sydenham to Canterbury get this kind of amenity? If not, why not?
Last night, over a thousand Sydneysiders had the opportunity to hear some refreshingly sensible words from global leaders on climate action.
As Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres secured agreement from 195 of the world’s 196 countries at the Paris Climate Accord, the most significant action on capping greenhouse emissions. She spoke alongside the Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, former Liberal Party leader John Hewson, our Lord Mayor Clover Moore and MC Adam Spencer.
I’m proud that I’m part of a Council that has been carbon-neutral since 2007, however, all leaders last night were in agreement; the time to act is now, the upside is enormous (the downside is unthinkable), and every level of government has a role to play in action against climate change.
John Hewson is the former leader of the Liberal Party (back in 1993, in the pre-Howard era). He labelled the Government’s obsession with the Adani coal mine as planet-killing ‘insanity’ and he slammed the current federal government for having “no strategy for meeting our Paris targets” and for “leaving these challenges to future generations,” labelling it as intergenerational theft. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with John Hewson before, but it’s hard to argue with that.
Christiana Figueres reminded us that Australia has been on a ‘ten-year hiatus’ (at least) on climate action and is having “a particularly messy transition” to renewable energy. However, she reiterated that this shift is inevitable and inexorable: Australia can either get on the renewables train, or find ourselves under it.
She called on the Australian Government to step up, saying the next three years “are crucial”, reminding us that “whatever investments made in infrastructure now will be our emissions portfolio in 2050.” Projects like the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, and Westconnex in Sydney, are fossil fuel hungry sinks that are the antithesis of climate action and must be stopped for a viable future.
While government decisions matter, it will take the private sector, community - all of us - working together to take action on climate, as “Leadership is not only at the top, We need collective, collaborative leadership at all levels in all sectors."
"You can't put band-aids on a systemic problem,” she said, but not only can our government turn our fortunes around if it dares to invest, she believes "Australia has everything it takes to be a leader in the C21," due to our vast lithium reserves for batteries, plus infinite amounts of solar and wind.
Mayor Gregor of Vancouver, COULD NOT BELIEVE we were ripping up a beautiful city to run a toll way right through the middle of it. He told us that whilst we are spending untold billions on a tollway that no one asked for, Vancouver is ripping up its former freeway projects to make way for parkland and affordable housing. If we stop stage three of Westconnex, the government would have 27 hectares at St Peters to dedicate to our housing crisis: just another reason why we need to fight against this project.
Vancouver's renewables target is 100% by 2050 at the latest, they’re already sitting at 31% renewable now. A focus on public transport, walking and electric vehicles are playing a major role. The shift towards a low-carbon future doesn’t come at the expense of our economy. If #jobsandgrowth are your thing (*cough*, Malcolm) Vancouver has seen 49 per cent growth in green & food jobs since 2010 due to unwavering government support for investing in the future.
However, taking action on climate and building a city for the future isn’t purely about investing in renewable energy. As Mary Robinson said at an earlier City Talk, climate action requires climate justice, and this great transition is also an opportunity for our society to redress the structural inequalities that divide us.
Mayor Gregor said, “when you talk about climate and renewables you also HAVE to talk about social resilience, diversity & inclusion." That includes our cities being home to everyone, not just the rich (and it includes Sydney standing up and voting YES in the upcoming postal survey)...
"We are absolutely determined. This is about the future of the planet, so we have no choice but to act," Clover Moore said at the conclusion of the night. It’s reassuring to know that so many world leaders stand ready to act too.
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Last night, Councillors voted to approve a place in the heart of our city for Junya Ishigami's Cloud Arch. This is the speech I addressed to Council in support for the project.
Through you Lord Mayor.
Councillors, this is an icon of a new age; a sign on the Sydney skyline of what is happening at street level.
The 20th century carved up our cities for cars, in the 21st century we're doing the work of rehabilitating the city, for people. Cloud Arch is the symbol, the triumphal arch of this shift, towards a pedestrianised, people-first public domain.
Let's talk about the costs. As you know Councillors, the light rail is a $2.1b project. The City of Sydney is contributing $220m to provide a world-class public domain - not because we have to - but because it's our only assurance that we're going to get high quality paving, seating, tree canopies, drainage, tram stops and YES, public art.
This investment of $11.3million is a fraction - about 5% of our $220m investment - and a minuscule amount of the cost of light rail. This NSW Govt is very happy to spend $38million on an over-engineered bridge to nowhere, the Tibby Cotter Bridge in Moore Park, and in Sept 2015 the NSW Auditor General identified $25m in waste on that project. We could pay for Cloud Arch twice over with just the waste on that project. Or there's the story in the Herald today, confirming that it's going to cost $1.5billion to move the Powerhouse Museum so they can give developers access to that valuable public land in Ultimo.
Yes, this is more than we expected. You know why - the project is wider, there is more steel being used, and the cost of steel has almost doubled. This is a design development process in the crowded centre of our city, and it throws up all kinds of complications, which is what the light rail team are experiencing right now too.
But let's talk about comparable public art projects, in other cities, and in our city: down the road at Barangaroo, they're spending $40m on public art because they know public art is how you define a place, how you draw in crowds, how you help build landmarks and embed a place in the story of a city. It is part of building the character, the narrative of a place. In Chicago, their Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor cost almost $40m and has become a huge tourist draw card, an image of the city. Down at Darling Harbour, the redevelopment includes a 100m long work by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, which if you're concerned about economic development, about job creation - well, tourism is one of the top five industries in NSW - and it's projects like this one, ambitious, bold, visionary, future-focused - these are the places that people extend their stay for. This will be a draw card and a gift to the retailers, the restauranteurs, the cafe owners of the southern CBD.
This will be an icon on our skyline and investment that will pay off many times over, contributing to the social, cultural and economic health of our city.
Thank you Lord Mayor.
The City of Sydney is doing amazing work at #GreenSquare. Recently, I got to tour around our $18mil creative, community & childcare spaces.
It's so exciting to see an entirely new creative and community space emerging from the old South Sydney Hospital site - creative spaces are one of the most accommodating ways of retaining heritage buildings and transforming them for a new age. With striking, architectural "shells" extending the building, and a lot more light and open space, this will be a long way from the nurses quarters of old, but I think it continues the life of this place as a space to serve the community, in a new way for a new century, and for the community that is growing around Green Square.
Once the Centre opens, we're going to see jewellers working at their benches in the jewellery studio, start-ups and freelancers hot-desking from the big communal desk in the sun-drenched workroom upstairs, yoga out in the open air (under those shells), and the buzz of creative activity in the studios (converted from the nurses' tiny bedrooms). I love that you'll have all this knowledge-era activity going on, while all around you'll still see signs of the history of this place, from the original floorboards to the tiles on the walls.
There will be a public tour organised soon. For more information, visit cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/green-square
Happy Art Month, art lovers! The City of Sydney just endorsed a plan to make the process of commissioning pieces of street art in our city much easier.
he City of Sydney has recommended a major policy change to relax the restrictions on Street Art in our city. This change would allow private property owners in non-heritage areas to commission street art on their walls, without the need to apply for Development Application.
This doesn't change our commitment to getting rid of obviously offensive works, which will still be removed as soon as possible with City staff continuing to inspect graffiti hotspots every day.
Another great development in this new plan is the addition of a Street Art Register, to help document and explain more about the unique artworks across our city.
Let's celebrate the great artists we have in Sydney and let more people know where we can seek out their work.
We’re really excited to see more beautiful art on Sydney’s streets and in its laneways. We hope you are too. You can read more on our proposal here.
We all know Sydneysiders love our coffee - but do you know our caffeine obsession has a distinctly unsavoury environmental impact? Coffee cups are not recyclable through the standard recycling system, as each paper cup contains a plastic layer. That means the 1 billion coffee cups sold in Australia each year are headed straight for landfill.
Funded by the City of Sydney, Close the Loop ran a four week trial in one Sydney office, and gathered a staggering 4278 cups in that period. If we can institute a dedicated cup collection and recycling system in Sydney, we can have an enormous impact in diverting waste and making the best use of our resources.
Would your office support and use a dedicated coffee cup recycling scheme? Let me know as we work on next steps.
For almost twenty years, author and activist Naomi Klein has been a fearless voice for social and climate justice, documenting the histories and initiatives of communities everywhere.
Her books, including No Logo, Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, are meticulously researched, searingly insightful studies into abuses of power that have had devastating effects on people and planet - and, importantly, studies of the creative strategies that the marginalised and oppressed have used to fight back. She has been a huge influence on a generation of social advocates and activists, and so I was honoured to be able to add my voice to the chorus as Naomi Klein was recognised for her work with the Sydney Peace Prize in 2016.
I was pleased to meet with representatives of our sister city, Nagoya, who were in Sydney to celebrate Taronga Zoo's 150th birthday. Guests included Mr Teruo Shinkai, Deputy Mayor of Nagoya and Mr Kazuto Kato, Chairperson, Nagoya City Assembly.