Friday. 24/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Gold before green

Australia, it seems, wasn’t ready to elect a government that would take tackling climate change seriously in last week’s elections. Despite something of a clean, green image abroad, the average Australian home is the world’s largest, getting a car at age 17 is a rite of passage and the economic comfort that most Aussies enjoy comes largely from the profits of mining.

A new National Construction Code, which came into effect earlier this month, claims to eradicate “poor building practices” but was found to skirt issues of environmental friendliness. It seems that the description doesn’t prevent buildings with a large carbon footprint from being given the green light.

Aussie architects are among the world’s best and developers in the country are progressive – and wealthy. While they’re not legally obliged to, there’s a big opportunity for Australia’s city builders to set high green standards in architecture and help save the image of a nation we all admire for its natural assets.

Elections / Canada

Update and restart

Earlier this week Canada’s innovation minister Navdeep Bains unveiled a new digital charter, a 10-point guide designed to overhaul data and online privacy laws. The plan intends to improve transparency regarding how companies use data, imposing fines when such laws are violated. The government began consultations last June and, with the charter’s release ahead of October’s federal elections, it’s clear that the Liberals see digital privacy as a pressing issue. But the government won’t introduce any substantive legislation until after the polls. In the wake of the 2018 Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the country is anticipating foreign meddling in its election and that’s why Canada needs to bring big tech to heel sooner rather than later.

Diplomacy / USA & Japan

Flattery will get you...

Tomorrow US president Donald Trump will touch down in Tokyo for a four-day visit to Japan. Refreshingly, no one is expecting the bilateral meeting between Trump and his counterpart Shinzo Abe to be combative. Instead proceedings will involve a lavish dinner with the newly crowned Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, ring-side seats at a sumo tournament and a spot of golf with the Japanese prime minister. But there is one issue that might cause the meeting to cool: the escalating US-China trade war. Japanese companies are likely to feel the pinch if China’s economy slows. Abe will be hoping that pomp, flattery and some quiet words on the fairway will encourage the president to scale back his economic sanctions. It’s a long shot.

Politics / Ukraine

Acting president?

Volodymyr Zelensky might be Ukraine’s new president but his political experience runs to playing the country’s leader in satirical TV show Servant of the People. So is that adequate preparation for the real thing? Zelensky seems to think so: he’s appointed one of the show’s producers to the position of deputy head of the presidency and given lesser roles to a scriptwriter, studio co-founder and another producer. Lance Price, Tony Blair’s former director of communications, thinks that they’re in for a shock. “It’s going to be an incredibly steep learning curve,” he told The Globalist. “You can’t just sweep in with a whole bunch of total political ingenues and think that you can just do things differently.” Whatever happens, the cameras will be rolling.

Film / France

Lady luck

Cannes Film Festival and streaming services have a rocky relationship. But while the likes of Netflix and Amazon have been haughtily excluded from the festival (or relegated to “out of competition” appearances), acquisition teams from technology behemoths are marauding about the event, pockets bulging with commissioning budgets. A major coup for Walt Disney-backed platform Hulu came this week when it snapped up the distribution rights to Portrait of a Lady on Fire from French film-maker Céline Sciamma, tipped as a favourite to take the Palme d’Or this weekend. Streaming services might not be able to compete for the main prize but they can bid for (and usually win) the work of those who can.

M24 / The Urbanist

Private and public development, part one

What role do private developers play in changing public spaces in our cities? This week we join the Van Alen Institute in London as it visits, learns about and passes judgement on the city’s headline-grabbing projects.

Monocle Films / Italy

Italian industry special: The fabric mill

From cotton fields in Egypt to state-of-the-art laboratories in Bergamo, our search for quality “Made in Italy” textiles focuses on the fifth-generation Albini Group.

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