Ethics should lie at the heart of the new construction industry

The NSW Building Commissioner’s most recent communication deals with why an ethical and authentic developer or construction enterprise will have the most customers in future. According to David Chandler ethics and authenticity lie at the heart of what makes a construction business distinctive, in demand and ultimately successful. Most leading companies in the construction industry realise […]

Nobody wins from rent moratoriums, not even landlords

Jay is an international student at the Canberra University of Technology. When she and her housemate both lost their jobs in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, their landlord reacted in the worst possible way: he refused to reduce the rent, instead increasing it by $15 per week.  Jay and millions of renters like her […]

Aged care facilities have been at the centre of the Covid crisis. Here’s how their design can change to lessen risk.

With the elderly community most at risk, seniors’ housing for retirement living and aged care is at the coalface of change to manage COVID-19 and any future infectious diseases. For the past few months, the focus of seniors’ living providers, especially those offering residential aged care, has been literally on staying alive and protecting their […]

Don’t blame planning for a supply shortage and rising house prices

Recently I argued that cutting red tape or fast-tracking planning approvals would not help the housing market recover from its COVID afflictions. Some developer lobbyists have responded, doubling-down on the claim that rapid and less scrutinised approvals are essential for property market recovery. This claim underpins their attacks on the planning system – it demands […]

Australia’s role in COVID-19 recovery lies in its diverse economy

The COVID-19 crisis has upended local and global economies, disrupted supply chains and prompted politicians and the global citizenry alike think about what sort of world we want to live in. The immediate focus is on economic recovery but the subsequent focus on reform represents an opportunity for meaningful change. In Australia, our manufacturing and […]

Will streamlining planning make a difference to housing outcomes?

There has been a lot of talk by developer lobby groups about the need to unclog the planning system to assist economic recovery post COVID 19. And the NSW government is putting out media releases saying that rapid approvals are injecting billions of dollars into the state’s economy. Thinking that approvals are going to lead […]

Jack Mundey, the Liverpudlian and some other expats

MEMOIRS: Some reflections on the impact of Jack Mundey, who pioneered the green bans movement to protect the built environment and who passed away this week. My partner Lisa had completed a Cambridge certificate for teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) before we went to Taiwan. She wanted to have something to do while […]

Will we choose a bum-led zombie urban future?

Despite pockets of silliness, like the freedom ‘n’ gun-loving idiocy erupting in the US, sensible minds are turning to what happens once COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Already, tensions are starting to appear between resuming past urban policy settings and the need to rethink them deeply.

7 ways to rebuild Australian resilience

The flipside of crisis is opportunity. The past six months have seen two extraordinary stressor events play out across Australia with devastating impacts – the eastern Australian drought and bushfires, closely followed by Covid-19. The good news is that as we move into recovery mode, we have the ability and opportunity to enact a series […]

Ventilation might help slow COVID-19 spread but let’s not forget energy use

While the evidence so far indicates that increasing outside air circulation may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in buildings, some common sense goes a long way for facility managers looking to keep occupants safe without wasting energy on overzealous air circulation. 

NCC doesn’t cover demolition and contaminated lamps in landfill are the result

Around 85 per cent of mercury-containing fluorescent tubes and lamps still go to landfill –poisoning our land and water tables – even though it’s illegal and Australia has signed an international convention. Simple changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) are part of the solution.  

Far-reaching housing tax reform could be back on the agenda

The pitch to replace stamp duty with a broad-based land tax is seeing a new surge of advocacy. Just in the past few days the Reserve Bank Governor together with state Treasurers in both NSW and Victoria have all weighed into this debate once again, arguing that such a transition is now an urgent priority.

No thanks to the Henry Ford of buildings; give us Mr Toyoda instead

Last week an article was published in The Fifth Estate titled “We are looking for the Henry Ford of Buildings”. In my view that’s the last thing we need, especially now as we emerge from the COVID 19 crisis and start to rebuild our devastated economy in a just and equitable way. In modernising the […]

Rebound: the amazing potential of the “third sector” to do this brilliantly

Governments need to think differently to spread the benefits of their post COVID 19 stimulus. Building a new “third” construction sector is an excellent place to start. The NSW Government has prioritised 24 housing, school and industrial projects to undergo the fast-track assessment process, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is that […]

Urban Taskforce responds … to a host of issues on planning and fast tracking

Readers may be surprised to hear that there was much in the Tim Sneesby editorial published in The Fifth Estate on 21 April 2020 which the Urban Taskforce agrees. But there were a few “cheap-shots” at the private sector property and construction sector generally, and the Urban Taskforce in particular, that merit a response. Firstly, […]

How to green our cities without putting communities at risk of bushfire

The pursuit of greener urban areas in NSW will bring us resilience to climate change and increased liveability but if we’re not careful, urban greening policies could be the kindling for future bushfire events that destroy lives and property. The good news is there are a host of techniques that allow us to vegetate responsibly, […]

COVID-19 and the SDGs: moving forward after the crisis

Many governments, businesses and local communities have made commitments towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but COVID-19 may set some of these commitments back.

COVID-19’s extraordinary opportunities are on offer

In the short term, the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled the climate action momentum that was growing in Australia following the disastrous 2019/20 bushfire season. In the medium to long term, the pandemic and our response to it may yet prove a watershed for climate action. The pandemic has, of course, delivered an enormous hit to […]