Minister Rob Stokes. Image: The Fifth Estate

OPINION: NSW’s conservative government has just upped the stakes on sustainability around the country – and shot so far to the front it will make the other states and territories blanche by comparison. Not to mention the federal government whose climate action goose will be not just blanched but well and truly cooked by this amazing show of leadership and chutzpah among its political peers.

It’s abandoned the industry-hugging mantra of voluntary – everything voluntary, always – and embraced what needs to be done: mandated some backbone building rules and regs. The things we actually pay governments to do.

NSW minister for planning and transport Rob Stokes dropped a bombshell at the Committee for Sydney event this week announcing he will stop homes being built with dark coloured roofs, and he’s also saying that large commercial developments being designed from 2022 will be asked to operate at net zero emissions from day one of their operational use.


There’s more. “Under the Net Zero Cities Action Plan currently being developed by DPIE, NSW will increase BASIX energy efficiency requirements, advance the development of green concrete and steel, increase industry understanding of embodied carbon, as well as mandate lighter coloured roofs across the state.”

Rob Stokes just made NSW Australia’s most progressive government

Rob Stokes has just joined Matt Kean and in our books it’s now hard to tell them apart on will and determination to seize the opportunities on offer and make the obvious choices.

In Victoria, they’re smarting. A recommendation from a government agency a few months back said there should be more mandating of canopy cover and a few other things.

NSW just made that look like a poor second place.

What’s worse is that the biggest opposition to the slightly improved building codes and accessible housing are being fought tooth and nail in Victoria, again by the anti vaxxer brigade (well… they’re made from the same cloth, right? No belief in science, just their own personal opinions).

Master Builders Victoria takes an axe to building reforms. Again

Perhaps it’s COP26 that has galvanised action and motivation. Maybe it’s NSW leader/residents such as Mike Cannon-Brookes who hitched his rising green star to that of Elon Musk the man who did the impossible and made green cool instead of worthy.

Or maybe it’s just that the government in NSW knows everyone is sick of Neanderthals dragging their knuckles, happy to throw the rest of us under the bus, as long as they can bank a few more bickies from the poison that is making us cook.

Maybe it’s because they are true to their nature and like good private enterprise capitalist leaning leaders, they want their state to clean up with the squillions on offer for those who seize the biggest economic, industrial, technological, environmental and maybe even psychological, revolution since Noah was a boy.

More than likely it’s a combination of all three. Whatever, it’s making the Morrison government look like it’s in serious trouble. If the nation’s biggest Liberal state is refusing to play along with the lies and deceptions of the people who tell us, “there’s nothing to see here, we’ve got this, go back to the pub and have another sausage”,  then it’s a bit like the loud bully in the playground (think Angus Taylor) who suddenly realises he’s lost his cred.

Joy! This Covid after-party is turning out to be the biggest most exciting time of all. They called it the “Roaring 20s” the other day. Well, if it keeps roaring along like this on climate, we say bring it on!

Don’t worry about the money, Scotty, you know how to do things now. You know how to print money, you know how to spend it, you know that the two biggest most expensive catastrophes in recent times – the GFC and Covid – were survivable. The sky didn’t fall in.

And remember, Scotty

if you don’t want our love

we know who

to give it to.

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