November 3, 2016

Community Launches Legal Action for Sirius





  • In the continued campaign to save the Sirius apartment building, the Millers Point Community Association today launched their crowd-funded legal challenge against the NSW Government.
  • In a press conference in front of the NSW Parliament, the group announced NSW Heritage Minister Mark Speakman had been served papers to appear in the Land and Environment Court. The action challenges the Minister’s refusal to list the Sirius building on the State Heritage Register against unanimous expert advice from the Heritage Council.
  • Anthony Albanese MP said “This building is a symbol of community values that still exist – values like inclusion and respect for diversity. Such values are still important to millions of Australians who take pride in living in a nation that cares about all of its citizens, not just those with big bank balances.”
  • Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the Sirius building was purpose-built to support low income people living in the city, and that’s something worth fighting for. “There’s no question the Minister’s decision sets a dangerous precedent,” the Lord Mayor said. “If this case is successful, it could create a valuable new precedent that will confirm the objectives of heritage legislation and discourage the government from acting this way again.”
  • Tania Mihailuk MP (Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Shadow Minister for Social Housing) said “This Government is creating a developers’ paradise with the goal of cleansing the CBD of any social housing.”
  • “It’s time to hit the pause button on this whole process” said Shaun Carter, Chairperson of Save Our Sirius. “We again would like to invite the government to sit down with us and discuss options where we can list the building, save the community, and save an important part of our culture. We believe there is the option for a trifecta of wins: A win for the government, a win for the building, and a win for the community.”
  • This action has been made possible by the crowd-funded support of over 600 people who believe that Sirius hold significant cultural, social, and heritage value to our city.
  • “Heritage is an important part of our built environment,” said Sue Higginson, Chief Executive Officer of EDO NSW. “Our Heritage laws determine what should be listed as State Heritage, so it is important that those laws are understood and applied correctly. This case is testing whether the Sirius building has been correctly considered for State Heritage Listing.”
  • Bruce McClintock SC is acting for the community group, supported by Shane Pierce, and the Environmental Defenders Office.


Sydney, Thursday 3rd November 2016, community groups supported by Bruce McClintock SC today launched their legal action against the NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Speakman.

The legal challenge is supported by over 600 citizens via crowd-funding which raised over $50,000.

The Save Our Sirius Foundation has middle-ground options for the Sirius building that will see its heritage value maintained, allow elderly residents to age in place, provide much needed key worker accommodation for the city, while providing the government with significant financial uplift. Shaun Carter said, “We hope this action will allow the government to reconsider their decision on the social, cultural, and heritage value of Sirius.”

Since the NSW government ignored the unanimous advice of the Heritage Council to preserve the Sirius Apartments, support for the Save Our Sirius campaign has continued to increase. Key actions from the Save Our Sirius group have included:

  • Appointing of 20 ambassadors who support the heritage listing of Sirius, and the maintenance of social housing in The Rocks.
  • Coordinating a Green Ban by the CFMEU, and Unions NSW
  • Holding a public rally, at which more than 1,500 people showed their support for Sirius
  • Conducting a crowd-funding campaign which raised more than $50,000 for this legal challenge.




  • Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney
  • Jack Mundey, Environmental Activist
  • Alex Greenwich MP, Member for Sydney, NSW Parliament
  • Tim Ross, Comedian
  • Tao Gofers, Original Sirius Architect
  • Ken Maher, National President, Australian Institute of Architects
  • Shaun Carter, NSW President, Australian Institute of Architects
  • Myra Demetriou, Sirius Resident
  • Barney Gardner, Millers Point Resident
  • Elizabeth Farrelly, Author, Architecture Critic
  • Michael Daley MP, Member for Maroubra NSW Parliament
  • Anthony Burke, Architecture Head Of School, University of Technology Sydney
  • Paul MacAleer, Sydney Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia
  • Irene Doubtney, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney
  • Clive Lucas, Restoration Architect
  • Meredith Burgmann, Former Member of NSW State Legislative Council
  • Eva Cox, Author, Social Commentator, Senior Lecturer UTS,
  • Jamie Parker MP, Member for Balmain, NSW Parliament
  • Anthony Albanese MP, Federal Member for Grayndler, Parliament of Australia



The Sirius Foundation has been formed by people and organisations campaigning to save Sirius and its residents. Groups include: Friends of Millers Point, Millers Point Dawes Point and The Rocks

Resident Action Group, Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks, Public Housing Tenants Group.

The Foundation, chaired by Shaun Carter (NSW Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects) has middle-ground solutions to save Sirius while achieving the government’s financial aims.



The Sirius building, located at 38–50 Cumberland Street, The Rocks was designed by Tao Gofers in the late 1970s for the Housing Commission. It was purpose built for social housing for families and older people, with level security lift access and built-in distress alarms. Its design includes public spaces that encourage interaction between residents in its entrances, corridors and courtyards, and in its rooftop gardens and communal rooms. A combination of private and public spaces and a mix of different age groups have helped the residents of Sirius to form a strong and successful public housing community.

Sirius is a fine example of the Brutalist architectural style, especially in its use of off-the-form concrete and the stacking of cubic components to create a harmonious whole. It is also significant as an early example of rooftop landscape gardening. As such, it is featured on a number of architectural websites and in international architectural literature.

The building was named after the First Fleet ship, HMS Sirius. The building has high social significance as it took form in 1978–79 as a consequence of The Rocks Green Ban which saved The Rocks and Millers Point from high-rise redevelopment.

The Sirius building is designed to provide public housing for approximately 400 people in 79 apartments. It is able to accommodate the young and the old, and various units and facitlities are suited to the disabled, the frail and families large and small. Its residents have cared for the building and one another from the day it was opened, and Sirius has been probably the most successful public housing development in the state.