Sydney architect, Philip Thalis will run as an independent candidate in September’s City of Sydney election.
The director of Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects was announced on the incumbent Sydney Lord Mayor’s ticket for the upcoming council election along with some other high-profile running mates.
Clover Moore, who has held the city's keys for 12 years, revealed her team at the weekend for what could be her last challenge for the council leadership.
Thalis will no doubt be Moore’s right hand man for planning decisions. He is an outspoken proponent for fair and balanced development in the city, development that he says must consider the public and people as the very core of the city.
He’s against the New South Wales government’s plans to sell off the Ultimo site of the Powerhouse Museum and part of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to fund a new museum in western Sydney, and has called the development underway at Darling Harbour a “blatant mistake”.
For Thalis though, Barangaroo is the “nadir” for Sydney, and its recent approval by the NSW Government struck a personal blow.
Thalis and his team at Hill Thalis actually won the international design competition for the Barangaroo site in 2006, proposing inalienable public parkland for the entire foreshore, linked to the city by a network of generous public streets and new public transport.
But this plan was soon scrapped by the NSW Government who changed the legislation governing the project, reducing the amount of public space and making the development more appealing to private investors and developers.
While Thalis would no doubt bring influence and expertise to the chambers on planning decisions, his influence and the power of the city on important planning decisions are restricted. As it stands, every major planning assessment in the city is made by a planning committee, which is majority-appointed by the state government anyway.
Large parts of the City are also controlled by the government, including Millers Point and The Rocks, some of which have been earmarked for sale and privatisation, much to the concern of Thalis.
ALL OVER FOR CLOVER?
Thalis’ chances are also hampered by the additional 80,000 votes that are expected to be counted in this year’s elections, the majority of which are tipped to go against Moore.
The coalition-backed City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill of 2014 made it compulsory for business owners in the city to vote in the upcoming elections and also gave them two votes.
But while the move has been called an act of gerrymandering, undemocratic and sneaky, it might not make a difference. Moore and her team of independents are still the clear favourites to win the election ahead of Liberal candidate Christine Forster.