Installation by Marta Ferracin

Mad Men for the Planet is back! We’ve hinted, mentioned in passing, but now we have a date, location, plan AND tickets for sale.

So get in now. Book Here

Partner: NABERS

What: A learning experience and workshop to design Australia’s best way to promote a NABERS rating, with a $10,000 prize to make the winner a reality.

MC: Howard Parry-Husbands, Pollinate

When: 8.30 am to 12 noon, Wednesday 31 May 2017

Where: Intercontinental Hotel 495 Collins Street, Melbourne

Tickets: $95 for teams of 4-6 people

Teams will be formed on the day: If you don’t have a whole team, get in touch –  we’ll give you a code for a discounted price, and organise a table for you.  It will be a great way to collaborate with new people in the industry.

See our post here for more details.

Key is that this collaboration with NABERS is about finding ways to promote NABERS ratings to the occupants, or staff in buildings. It’s all about “selling green”. So that we can learn how to make environmental ratings for our buildings as powerful and aspirational as five stars on a hotel.

The insights into how to motivate human behaviour will be something you can take to any objective. But please do remember you will have a dangerous weapon in your hands, one usually retained exclusively in the hands of advertising gurus and Russian political “technicians”, so remember to use it wisely.

Book Here

Proceeds from tickets are going to the Women’s Property Initiatives, which we’ve written about here.

This group owns and runs close to 70 affordable housing properties for women and children who are homeless, marginalised and often escaping domestic violence.

What have our cost cutting Feds been up to while we’re all tightening our belts?

On the subject of NABERS, isn’t it interesting that the federal government, which spends so much time chasing down the most vulnerable in our society and punishing the big corporate tax avoiders with feather lashes, are so lax when it comes to their own potential for cost savings?

See Willow’s deep dive into the NABERS tenancy ratings investigations this week to see how some of the biggest federal government departments fail to meet the standards of their own policy on leasing office space.

The Feds, it turns out, occupy more than two million square metres of net lettable office space (90 per cent of all office space in Canberra) and they have a NABERS Tenancy rating over just 10 per cent of this space.

This, despite the government’s own directive in the National Green Leasing Policy to do just that within 15 months of signing a lease, or when leases are renewed. And the ratings need to be maintained.

What’s worse is that the biggest occupiers, Foreign Affairs, the Bureau of Stats, and Ag and Water resources occupy between them more than 200,000 sq m of space.

And they have “not a single Tenancy rating between them”.

So, those who are supposed to be managing our nation’s natural resources, including keeping an eye on the displacements that could come from climate change, don’t mind contributing to the problems they need to manage. Maybe it’s a way of keeping themselves in jobs.

Now, we can’t assume that because these departments are not rated for NABERS Tenancy they are not actually the cleanest and most efficient energy users on the block. It’s entirely possible they do all the right things but don’t get the kudos for them by seeking the ratings. Possible, but not probable.

Thanks to WT Consultancy’s Steve Hennessy’s guesstimate we know that the missed opportunity improve NABERS ratings by an easy amount could be costing we taxpayers a cool $20 million.

That’s $20 million that could be spent on hospitals, schools, or wait, better certification and checks for our increasingly shoddy building practices that could save even more energy if eliminated.

It’s the kind of number that puts Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter jaunts to Geelong in the shade.

It also makes the other tax laundering/negatively geared property investments of many pollies (and others in our community) look like a teddy bear’s picnic.

Now, we don’t like to browbeat public servants; we think they do an amazing job in general and that most are “called” rather than driven to serve the public. Uh uh, no, we blame their political masters for this failure to do the right thing. The trend to make public servants “yes” people for fear of being sacked by a hostile administration is an erosion of our potential as a nation.

Sure they need to be efficient and periodically reviewed like everyone else but it’s dangerous to make them frightened for their jobs, so that they fail us, their real employers. Because then we get them doing silly stuff like ignoring common sense efficiency outcomes on political grounds.  Such as putting in the best energy efficiency measures you can to save carbon and taxpayer dollars.


We need to congratulate the Feds though for at least and at last tipping their hat to the housing affordability crisis in this weeks’ budget.

They’ve taken baby steps and it’s good to see they acknowledge the empty apartment syndrome as a possible big contributor to the problem. But their remedy? A mere $5000 charge for empty properties. If you’re a wealthy overseas investor that’s probably a nice weekend away. Or as a Gen Yer pointed out on hearing this, “That’s nothing at all; you can buy handbags for that amount.”

There were some other good moves in the budget, especially on aggregated housing bonds which could make rental more affordable. As someone quipped on radio this week, the Treasurer really does care about rentals, and that “so he should, because so many of us are renting”.

But as for negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, well, looks like the market has peaked now so we can all relax and those Gen Ys can jump right into their first home for $1.1 mill instead of $1.2 – the kind of drop the experts think could happen if things really do go belly up.

So we hope you get our point. What we have here, Govs, is a failure to act in a way that actually makes a difference. Such as ridding us of the unfair tax lurks.

Regional fast trains as an affordability solution

The best thing we heard around the traps on housing is the reframing of the affordability issue as a transport and connection issue.

It sounds like a nice idea – get people to move to a region, and then bring them back into the big cities with a very fast train.

Geelong should be first as someone at the architects’ annual gathering in Sydney suggested during the breaks. An hour to get to Melbourne is a disgrace, they said. You should be pulling into Southern Cross Station in 30 minutes at most, AND enjoying free wi-fi on the way.

Geelong would surely love a kick in the property prices if it brought with it some much needed kick in its economy.

Then there are Newcastle, Ballarat and the other regional belles. We’re taking a look at the regions soon.

Bad luck about climate change

There was nothing in the budget about climate.

But this was no surprise.

This is what Amanda McKenzie CEO of the Climate Council said:

Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council s

I was waiting to tick climate change off my budget bingo­­­ but I never got the chance. That’s because Scott Morrison delivered his budget speech without a single mention of climate change, the biggest long-term economic threat we face.

But, hidden deep within the budget papers was the revelation that the Climate Change Authority had been stripped of almost two-thirds of its funding and confirmation that it will be wound up.

The Climate Change Authority is charged with providing independent advice to the government on how to tackle climate change effectively. For example, it provides detailed analysis on what Australia’s emissions reductions should be and pathways for how to meet those targets.

The disappearing Climate Change Authority means there will be one less group conducting vital research in Australia. We can’t accurately or effectively mitigate or adapt to climate change without the most up-to-date climate and energy analysis. This continues the Federal government’s pattern of cutting funding to climate research. First it was the Climate Commission, then it was CSIRO, and now the Climate Change Authority is on the cutting block.”

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