Wrecking Balls are a-swinging: rethinking the demolition mindset

And thus, the illustrious Dominic Perrottet came swinging in on a wrecking ball, invoking perhaps Miley Cyrus and her infamous 2013 music video, out to erase a hit list of buildings which he has declared blemishes blighting the beauty of Sydney – from the MLC Centre to the Cahill Expressway, from Sydney Aquarium to every Brutalist Building, ever.

Time for a new broom, new pricing and law-abiding tribunal at Sydney Water

“The lawyer I respect most, a blind man on a galloping horse, can read every IPART report and conclude none of the tribunal members have read these sections or, if they have, have chosen to ignore them”. Pricing of NSW government water, transport and energy monopolies has failed. “Once we allow ourselves to be disobedient […]

AI is looming – do we travel through time or end in an algorithm?

Could an algorithm write any number of bestsellers or compose a symphony to match Bach or Beethoven or stretch our imaginations and allow us to travel through time like Marty McFly? Ultimately. Probably. Yes! Biomedical engineer and inventor, Jordan Nguyen, says that technology is evolving faster than at any time before, but possibly at the […]

Five ways to achieve a post-pandemic governance epiphany

Metaphorically, the pandemic has cast a very oblique light across our apparently flat policy terrain. Many seemingly solid and settled policy positions are now revealed as wafer-thin ideologies. Deep unbridgeable chasms between implacably opposed world views now separate what used to seem like mild differences of opinion. Some even consider that the pandemic has triggered […]

There has never been a more vital time to be a B Corp

No individual person, country or organisation can solve the myriad of challenges facing societies. Collaboration is critical – and businesses can, and should, be at the forefront, using their business to positively impact their stakeholders and the environment. There is a global community of companies that believe in the power of business to help solve […]

The case for social housing on church land

Tone Wheeler of Environa Studio says there are three options to find land for affordable housing: government, churches and philanthropists. The government seems little interested and same with philanthropists, he says. In a new position paper on affordable housing commissioned by Churches Housing, Wheeler makes the case for social housing on church land. Social housing […]

What must be fixed before the NSW’s Planned Housing Diversity SEPP can do what it sets out to do

While the New South Wales government’s revamped housing diversity policy is being touted as the answer to the state’s shortfalls in affordable housing, I believe the unintended consequences may have the opposite effect. The proposed changes (Housing Diversity SEPP) are far more likely to suffocate future supply. This is due to the removal of provisions […]

Australia’s post-virus recovery, and the need for seasonal storage

Sustainability expert Alan Pears sets out key recovery priorities for a post-Covid economy. Also: the need (or lack thereof) for seasonal storage, and the problem of our ageing data resources. There is a widening gulf between the Australian government’s economic recovery plan and an ever increasing number of studies. Internationally, the International Energy Agency, United […]

Why the MLC Building in North Sydney should be saved

Beyond concern for preserving such rich heritage, the proposed demolition of the MLC Building in North Sydney poses deep environmental concerns. History is the story of who we are. A wise society will take lessons from that history – both good and bad – and critically engage with the present to proactively shape a better future. We […]

The time has come for regulations that drive net zero homes

It’s time that the National Construction Code and, in NSW, BASIX, be updated to drive the trajectory to net zero energy homes. An opportunity has arisen to make major improvements in the energy efficiency and renewable energy generation of new buildings, following recent consultations and current analysis for the next update of the National Construction […]

Tim Williams: we need to fight for the cities

Many things are currently as clear as mud. Is it safe to be old now and leave one’s house or not? Should my child’s teacher be compelled to return to school to do their job? Is this Covid thing the worst thing since a rat got off a boat in London and spread the Black […]

Cheaper forms of housing in more expensive suburbs? That’s an Orwellian “doublethink”

There’s a draft NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (draft SEPP) for housing diversity out for discussion and it’s sparked the interest of the property developer lobby group Urban Taskforce. The Fifth Estate welcomes thoughts and contributions from other readers on this topic. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, […]

Nikola Tesla dreamed of free electricity; what happened?

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if electricity was free? Tesla is the well-known trademark of entrepreneur extraordinaire Elon Musk and his electric cars, but what about Tesla, the man? More than 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) invented alternating current (AC), the polyphase alternating current system, which laid the foundation […]

How sustainable is our shiny new normal?

The answer is, not very, if it’s anything like the old one The COVID-19 pandemic is like an X-ray into all the broken parts of our economy. We know what they are and have a grand opportunity to fix them, but it will take some visionary leadership, some exceptional courage, and an ample measure of […]