On the same day Martin Place’s homeless tent embassy was on the front page of the Financial Review, that paper’s Fairfax stablemate, the Sydney Morning Herald, featured a “jubilant” crowd — led by architects, left-wing politicians and former radio celebrities — crowing about a court decision to halt the demolition of the Sirius building.
There are 60,000 people waiting for public housing in NSW. The Sirius building once housed about 80. Selling it would fund new homes for more than three times that many families.
The smiling faces celebrating the court ruling — which has halted the process for the time being — are all that stand in the way of housing for 300 families currently desperate for a safe, secure roof over their heads. You might say it’s brutal: the epitome of the out of touch left, putting ideology before people.
So enamoured are these folk with towering slabs of grimy concrete that they can’t see the objective good its sale would achieve for real people in need. Luke Foley couldn’t wait to get down in front of the drab relic of union power and talk at length about Labor’s undying commitment to the heritage value of a boxy blight on The Rocks. Labor and the Greens talk a lot about inequality, but when an opportunity presents itself to actually do something about alleviating poverty, they obstruct, posture and pander to their inner-city courtiers. They know where their bread is buttered.
While they share their virtue-signalling Instagram snaps and shed crocodile tears over society’s ills, in reality their legacy is one of failure, delivering precisely nothing.
The contrast is stark: they want concrete buildings, we want concrete solutions. And speaking of concrete, last year I said the Sirius building was about as sexy as a carpark. I should apologise — in hindsight, that comment was an insult to carparks everywhere.
Never forget, the National Trust itself once called this building a “lump on The Rocks”. At worst — especially considering the true heritage of The Rocks, over which the building casts a long and dank shadow — Sirius represents the destructive, dehumanising vandalism of the modernist movement; the legacy of the likes of architect Le Corbusier, high priest of the cult of ugliness, who was determined to demolish the stunning heritage of downtown Paris in favour of utilitarian concrete skyscrapers.
At best, Sirius is an acquired taste. Sure, at certain times of day, in certain times of the year, when the light is just right, and you look from just the right angle, through the right lens, with one eye closed (or maybe both), Sirius can come up well in photographs.
The rest of the time — and for the vast majority of us — it’s the ugly lump you pass on your way across the Harbour Bridge.
An ugly lump that happens to occupy a huge area of land that, if sold, would fund hundreds of homes for people in need.
To cling to it in those circumstances is sheer indulgence.
The Liberals and Nationals government that I am part of wants to actually fund more social housing. We have a plan to do that — taking an old social housing building that is no longer fit for purpose, and using the proceeds for new housing that actually meets the needs of those without a place to live.
We want to actually solve the social housing problem — so sue us. Oh wait, they already did.