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Tag Archives

Brakes taken off NSW development approvals

Opinion by MERRILL WITT A great leap forward? If you know a little about the history of China, you may have been bemused to read that Tom Forrest, the new CEO of Urban Taskforce, described the recently announced planning system reforms as "a great leap forward for jobs, housing supply and the NSW economy." As […]

Local council elections postponed

By MERRILL WITT If you’re thinking the coronavirus pandemic has thrown our liberal democratic order into disarray, you’re not wrong! On Weds 25 March the Minister for Local Government, Shellley Hancock, announced that the Sept 2020 local government elections will be “postponed to address the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus.” In all likelihood, they […]

Could the coronavirus pandemic save the koalas?

By MERRILL WITT On Mon 19 March, the Total Environment Centre’s Urban Sustainability Campaigner, Saul Deane, told ABC radio Breakfast hosts Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck that the growing southwestern Sydney koala population is at risk of being wiped out. Vast swathes of rural land from Campbelltown to Wilton are being rezoned for up to […]

The political endorsement of extinction

Opinion by MERRILL WITT Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintained a business-as-usual approach in response to last September's School Strike 4 Climate rallies. Despite the protests attracting record-breaking crowds across the nation, Morrison complained that the student strikers were responsible for creating "needless anxiety" in children. Needless anxiety is certainly not how you would describe the […]

Can local character be saved?

Opinion by MERRILL WITT Earlier this year two strange bedfellows, Tony Recsei of Save our Suburbs and Chris Johnson, the former CEO of the developer lobby group Urban Taskforce, joined together to co-write an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald that was critical of the NSW Government’s push for more medium-density housing in Sydney’s suburbs. […]

Is it too late to save koalas?

BY MERRILL WITT Current predictions for the future of wild koalas in NSW are very grim, according to testimony given by scientific and environmental experts at last Friday's Upper House inquiry into “Koala populations and habitat in NSW.” Sydney University’s Associate Professor of Life and Environmental Sciences Mathew Crowther, whose research focus is the Liverpool […]

Double Bay at crossroads

By MERRILL WITT The best areas of Sydney typically mix old with new and often demonstrate an intelligent repurposing of redundant buildings or tired precincts in ways that enliven and engage while still respecting heritage. Sadly, more often than not, the preferred option is to tear down and replace. As a recent editorial in the […]

Big Sydney comes at a cost to environment

By Merrill Witt Last week, in a presentation to the Property Council, the newly appointed Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, gave a surprisingly candid assessment of the NSW planning system. He said that "the culture of development that has grown up in this city has pitted in many ways supposedly avaricious developers against supposedly blinkered […]

Independents’ success offers silver lining

BY MERRILL WITT The newly elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison credited the “quiet Australians” for the Coalition's surprising election win. But the campaign to dislodge Independent Kerryn Phelps from the formerly safe Liberal seat of Wentworth was anything but quiet. In the final few days leading up to last Saturday’s election, Wentworth voters were bombarded […]

Faruqi’s voice for nature

BY MERRILL WITT Last year, at a meeting to discuss NSW’s dwindling koala population, the Greens Senator for NSW Dr Mehreen Faruqi explained that in the early 2000s she moved to the Port Macquarie area with her husband and two young children to become Manager of Natural Resources and Catchments for the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council. […]