Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has never held back on sharing his strong opinions about Sydney’s development, and a recent report by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) shows that the man is not yet done speaking his mind.
Speaking at corporate real estate association CoreNet, Keating said he is less concerned about landmark, historic buildings in Sydney’s CBD today than fighting for open public spaces, which are in danger of being ‘killed’ by big events, the AFR reported.
“We’re going to end up with a very ugly city…the city is being fed junk, and it responds to the food it’s being given, it doesn’t like it,” Keating said, adding that today’s apartments, which resemble egg cartons and iceblock trays, are responsible for the public backlash against close-quarters living.
Noting that municipal councils and authorities in Sydney do not have a coherent plan, while systems in place lack imagination, he stressed the importance of preserving and enhancing open spaces, and avoiding cement-heavy, Alcatraz-like “archi-parks” designed by “ponytail-wearing architects”.
On this end, he believes the biggest current threat to Sydney’s outdoor space is developers and cruise companies wanting a berth in the harbour.
“Never stand between a developer and a bag of money; you’ll be killed every time,” he said.
Keating’s scathing review of Sydney’s development is an echo of past criticisms by both architects and politicians, including NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who called for a scheme to ensure enough funds flow back for the creation of public spaces at Barangaroo earlier this year.
With the approval of the casino at Barangaroo, Shoebridge had commented, “With this last insult it seemed like Barangaroo had struck rock bottom. All of NSW could see how yet again property developers, big business and NSW politicians had come together to sell out the public interest.”
However, one development did escape Keating’s critique of Sydney’s progress – the farmland at Badgerys Creek, a project he took a part in planning as treasurer in the Hawke government.