John McInerney AO

Well known planner in Sydney and Melbourne John McInerney was one of a handful of people from the built environment nominated in the long list of recipients in last week’s Australia Day honours.

Others included Canberra architect and ACT Government Architect the late Alastair Swayn, Melbourne engineer and academic Ian Johnson, Western Australian environmental scientist and author Norman McKenzie, Tasmanian architect Robert Morris-Nunn and Canberra property industry leader Jim Service.

All are now members (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Mr McInerney, a former City of Sydney deputy Lord Mayor and councillor, had friends on hand at his Millers’ Point home to celebrate on Australia Day, thanks to his partner architect Caroline Pidcock, who organised a gathering without mentioning its purpose in advance, as designated by official protocol.

As it turned out, Mr McInerney picked out another five AO recipients among guests – all, not surprisingly, members of the built environment community.

The official citation for Mr McInerney was for “significant service to town planning, and to architecture, to professional organisations, to local government, and to the community”.

He told The Fifth Estate later that much of his work had been in Melbourne and in Sydney, where he helped develop the city of villages concept.

In recent times his focus had been on community planning issues.

“Lately I’ve been trying to bring people’s attention to the importance of mixed communities that was inherent in the city of villages concept rather than communities becoming segregated by income that is, in the long run, a very bad planning result,” he said.

Other recent work includes helping action groups in his local Millers Point community to save the Sirius building, “both from a modern heritage point of view and affordable housing, which it was built for”.

The building has been slated for demolition by the state government and there is still hope it could be saved.

“The government has not been able to come to a conclusion about what sort of profit they are going to make and there is a court case on the matter of heritage in April,” he said. The case is being handled by the Environmental Defenders Office on behalf of the community group.

A legal challenge by another community action group Mr McInerney supported, to oppose the James Packer casino at Barangaroo, had not gone well.

The Land and Environment Court’ in December dismissed a case that argued the NSW Planning Commission had acted illegally in handing over foreshore park to Crown Resorts.

“While we believe we were correct,” Mr McInerney said, “it was truly a David and Goliath battle and unfortunately in NSW Goliath wins.”

Following are the citations and a selection of entries on their background. For a full list of recipients and background information see the Governor-General’s website.

Professor Ian Johnston, Victoria, for distinguished service to engineering, as an academic, researcher, practitioner and consultant, particularly in the fields of structural foundation engineering and geothermal energy.

His background includes service with Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria, University of Melbourne, Coffey Geosciences (now Coffey Geotechnics), and a number of universities in Victoria.

The late Alastair Hall Swayn, late of the ACT, for distinguished service to architecture in the Australian Capital Territory, through executive roles with professional architectural institutes, and to the community.

Service includes with the ACT as Government Architect, principal Architect and Director, Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Pty Ltd, Design Review Panel, National Capital Authority.

Norman McKenzie, Edgewater, WA, for significant service to science, and to the environment, particularly to biological surveys, to conservation and planning, and as an author.

Services includes as biological Survey Scientist, Western Australian Department of Fisheries/Department of Parks and Wildlife, 45 years. Member, Uunguu Monitoring and Evaluation Monitoring Committee, established by the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, since 2012.

Key projects include: Lead Scientist, Inaugural Western Australian Biodiversity Audit, 2001-2007.

John McInerney, Millers Point, Sydney, for significant service to town planning, and to architecture, to professional organisations, to local government, and to the community. Service includes: managing director, Spatial Planning Pty Ltd; managing director, City Plan Services; City Planner and Manager, Planning and Transport Division, City of Sydney; senior roles with  City of Melbourne, City of Heidelberg, National Capital Development Commission, Canberra, and Hudson River Valley Commission, USA. He has also been a Planning Institute of Australia national president, Deputy Lord Mayor and councillor of the City of Sydney.

Graeme Martin of Hyde Park SA, for significant service to the real estate industry through executive roles, to professional property institutes, and to education.

Service includes with Colliers International, director of valuations, Adelaide, Australian Property Institute national president.

Robert Morris-Nunn, West Hobart Tasmania for significant service to commercial architecture in Tasmania, to tertiary education, to professional institutes, and as a role model. Service includes Morris Nunn and Associates; Circa MorrisNunn, University of Tasmania; juror, The Gold Medal, Australian Institute of Architects; jury chair, Tasmanian Architecture Awards.

James Service, ACT, for significant service to the community through contributions to charitable organisations, and to the property, construction, and tourism sectors.

Service includes: Chairman, Koomarri Association; Canberra Cancerians; Australian Cancer Research Foundation; Autism Respite Centres, Ricky Stuart Foundation; Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research; Canberra International Riesling Challenge; ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority.