Kiersten Fishburn

Former Liverpool City chief executive, Kiersten Fishburn will take over as the new secretary of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), replacing outgoing secretary Jim Betts.

Ms Fishburn moves on as head of DPIE’s Planning Delivery Unit, which she helped establish last year –  a department responsible for moving stalled projects through the planning system faster.

“Ms Fishburn has an outstanding track record working across state and local government and will bring a wealth of experience to this new role,” premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“She has proven to be a very efficient operator during her time leading the Planning Delivery Unit, accelerating more than 600 complex planning matters resulting in more than $57 billion in economic benefit.”

Property Council of Australia NSW executive director Luke Achterstraat, welcomed Ms Fishburn’s appointment, calling her a “force for good”.

“Under the outgoing Secretary Mr Jim Betts, Kiersten’s establishment of the Planning Delivery Unit has sought to remove the roadblocks and build the critical housing and infrastructure needed across New South Wales,” Mr Achterstraat said.

However, the property council also expressed its concern over recent data showing  a decline in housing approvals in NSW. 

“Since the unwinding of stimulus measures and the return of lockdowns across parts of New South Wales and Victoria, approvals for private houses have fallen 24.4 per cent from the record high in April,” Mr Achterstraat said.

“In the year to March 2021, New South Wales delivered 29,500 new homes, well short of the 42,000 outlined by the Greater Sydney Commission as the delivery needs of the population.”

Planning Minister Rob Stokes has come under fire in the media recently for the state of NSW’s planning system which some say is the slowest in the country, but others say is actually quite speedy especially in relation to other jurisdictions. 

Recent reforms to the process involved streamlining independent planning panels, which the minister said helped clear the backlogs without compromising rigorous assessment processes while also safeguarding against corruption. 

Mr Stokes said Ms Fishburn would be taking the reins at one of the most crucial periods in the state’s history. 

“The NSW government’s pandemic response and planning reform agenda are in full flight, and I look forward to working with Ms Fishburn as we accelerate that work over the coming months,” he said.

FWPA timber company farewells managing director

The big moves keep coming as the industry resettles and resettles again after Covid lockdown (well for half the country anyway)

Ric Sinclair

Breaking news as we hit the virtual presses on Tuesday afternoon is that Ric Sinclair is finally departing from his gig as managing director of Forest and Wood Products Australia after 13 years. He’s given plenty of notice – three months – and in all honesty it might take that long to find a replacement unless the team has someone up their sleeve.

Sinclair said he was proud of his achievements at FWPA, especially “building a great team”, the partnership with Planet Ark, and creating the promotional WoodSolutions.

Perhaps more significant was helping to reduce impediments in the National Construction Code to using wood in mid-rise projects.

The FWPA Board will be conducting a search for his replacement.

According to Eileen Newbury, head of communications and marketing FWPA has never been busier. “Since Covid we’ve had fortnightly webinars. Last week there were more than 1500 people. The website is going gangbusters, 40,000 subscribers. We do podcasts, case studies and interviews.”

On top of that is the education piece. The organisation is helping with development of a master of timber engineering course at University of Tasmania and introducing what seems like a very neat idea of mini certification. This is a way to help busy people gain micro accreditation for small tranches of courses that can eventually be absorbed into a full university degree.

Newbury, who was deep in Melbourne’s lockdown, when she spoke to The Fifth Estate on Tuesday afternoon, said the now 18-strong team had produced 53 technical design guides, codes and standards and was also getting deep into statistics to help member businesses succeed. In addition to the podcasts and other website content.

Out in the wider world, she said, the global shortages of timber were continuing. Partly because of Covid but also because of the lack of shipping container thanks to the tensions with China (which owns many if not most containers we suspect.)

But interestingly the shortages were extending to consumer goods to kit out homes such as appliances and whitegoods. And of course the shortages also applied to other building materials, but somehow everyone seems mostly interested in timber, she noted.

On a note about the departure of Ric Sinclair Newbury said this was not retirement, he simply wanted a change and was open to any other CEO position in a timber organisation. Well, we thought we’d put it out there. You never know who’s reading this thing!

Job movements

In other news this week CBRE has appointed Su-Fern Tan as its brand new national head of ESG, relocating the Australian-native from New York back Down Under to lead an 18-person sustainability team.

CBRE executive managing director, property management, Amanda Steele said the appointment recognised the ever-increasing client emphasis on strategies to reduce carbon emissions and champion sustainability objectives.

Urban design studio, Oculus welcomed three new landscape architects to its Australian operations team, Georgia Hopkins in Sydney, along with Asa Kremmer and senior architect Kate Mutimer in Melbourne.

Ms Mutimer has five years experience across private and local government sectors and brings a passion for increasing the biodiversity of urban environments through landscape architecture.

Meanwhile, Mary Casey joined building system design and energy analysis services firm, Integral Group as a principal, bringing with her over 25 years of experience in the field. 

“I am excited to be joining Richard Palmer, David Barker and the…National Sustainability Team. I’m excited about growing our team as regenerative practitioners, so that we can use our roles as engineers and designers to contribute to a truly thriving world,” Ms Casey posted online. 

James Murray-Parkes who previously joined us as presenter and panel member at one of Tomorrowland events and who we’ve interviewed at length in these pages, has a new gig with Taylor Thompson Whitting as geometric physicist consultant to help solve some of the trickier problems on the engineering company’s books.

Kim Bazeley is now a senior design advisor for the Government Architect NSW having in the past decade held key positions at BVN and Mirvac before transitioning to the public sector.

And finally, stepping down from his position as chief executive of Hydro Tasmania due to personal reasons was Evangelista Albertini, who over the course of his time with the company helped define the role of renewable energy in the National Energy Market. 

Executive general manager finance and strategy, Ian Brooksbank, will take his place on an interim basis.

Our pick of the jobs

It’s not often we include defence jobs in this section but this role from the Department of Defence caught our eye. They are looking for an environment and sustainability officer to join the North Queensland Defence Environment and Sustainability team.

If you didn’t know that was a thing, you do now! They need someone to help guide a broad range of environmental and heritage programs to support the sustainable use and management of defence sites. 

With the job encompassing a geographical spread from Townsville and Rockhampton, you will have the opportunity to visit and help protect a wide range of unique flora and fauna in some of the most beautiful parts of Australia. 

You don’t need to have any background in defense, just a relevant environmental degree and basic industry skills. 

Engineering consultants Mott MacDonald is looking for a technical director, sustainability to join its NSW-based team. The job is to support the team leaders in developing national sustainability strategies for the built environment. 

If you’ve got a bachelor degree or higher relevant qualification and at least eight years of sustainability consulting experience this could be an opportunity for you to join a global organisations with the scope to make a real difference. 

Please send your job tips to duncan@thefifthestate.com

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