The Global Urbanist

News and analysis of cities around the world


What's going on in Barangaroo's communications office?

An unusually raw press release from the Barangaroo Delivery Authority's media team raises questions about the Authority's internal organisation.

Kerwin Datu

Cities: Sydney

Topics: Development authority, Private sector governance

A month ago I wrote a piece criticising the competition-winning project for Barangaroo, a redevelopment site in East Darling Harbour in the centre of Sydney.

I was contacted today by a public relations officer at the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, asking me to review a media release providing further details on the project; a document put out to answer much of the criticisms levelled at the project in the popular press.

My earlier article is here; the media release is here, and in its original location here.

So I must duly review the document: the document is strangely informal, naïve, repetitive and unfocused; it does not appear to have gone through any internal approval or clearance process, as it surely would not have survived in its current form if it had.

I should mention that it has been given the incisive and strategic title "More Information on Barangaroo".

It groups its responses under six vague themes and under each heading provides links to web pages containing relevant criticisms. The choice of links is bizarre — one is to a generic forum for skyscraper lovers, another is to an illegal site which steals pages from the Sydney Morning Herald and loops them through a mechanical translator to disguise the theft. Not exactly hives of robust public opinion.

The responses to each theme veer wildly off track. Under the heading "What detail is available?" is the opening line "Plans for Barangaroo are subject to the same planning approvals process as any other proposed development in NSW." Of course, most proposed developments go through their local council, not a special Delivery Authority. But where's the detail?

The theme "The place and its precinct" offers the advice that "Debate about Sydney's future doesn't need to involve denigration of other great Australian cities like Brisbane or Melbourne." Fair enough, but shouldn't a government media release be addressing professional journalists, not online forum trolls?

I sadly suspect that a communications staffer within the Barangaroo Delivery Authority has jumped the gun in posting this document online. Upon receiving it, I had hoped to review the substance of its responses, but these are incoherent enough that I will have to wait for a more authoritative press statement.

Instead I am forced to ask, if this is how the communications team is managed, how is the Delivery Authority coping with exerting control over the development precinct itself, and its substantially more organised private partner, Lend Lease?


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