John Mant was born in 1936 and raised in Sydney. Both sides of his family were lawyers in the city, and his mother taught kindergarten at Ascham. He grew up at Parsley Bay and went to school in Bellevue Hill. John graduated with an Arts and Law degree at the University of Sydney, and a few years later, attained a Diploma in Town and Country Planning. John Mant died in 2021.
Occupation & interests
John Mant studied arts and then law at the University of Sydney, and was a contemporary of Robert Hughes, Clive James, Leo Schofield and John Bell. He subsequently gained a Diploma in Town and Country Planning and became involved in city planning. He worked in the public and private sectors.
John Mant was one of Australia’s leading experts on planning systems and local government management. John’s expertise spanned the fields of planning law, housing policy, development control, organisation design and development, place management, and urban management. He was an adviser to Labor Minister Tom Uren and Acting Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He co-wrote the current NSW Local Government Act (1993) and was personal private secretary to Gough Whitlam when he was Prime Minister. He was an early advocate for place management and was an Adjunct Professor of Planning at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
In urban management, John showed how the structure of organisations affects the outcomes they produce and he has restructured many organisations along these lines. He simplified local government management legislation in NSW by removing barriers to flexible governance, which influenced the reform of local government in other Australian states.
John Mant was president of the Paddington Society and deputy chair of Common Equity NSW, a not-for-profit holding company for NSW cooperative housing organisations. He described the Paddington Society as: ‘the oldest community heritage organisation in Australia. We’ve resisted inappropriate development and ensured that Paddington retains its Victorian streetscapes and remains a liveable suburb’.
John Mant served as an adviser to Labor minister, Tom Uren during the Whitlam era. He was also Acting Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in the 90s, and rewrote the NSW Local Government Act (1993), alongside Julia Walton.
Honours & awards
John Mant was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016.
Local government service
John Mant served as a City of Sydney Councillor from 2012 until 2016. He chaired the Local Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming, and was Deputy Chair of the Transport, Heritage and Planning Sub-Committee and the Development Assessment Sub-Committee. He did not stand for re-election in 2016.
‘Opening comments by John Mant, Standing Committee on State Development Legislative Council, Parliament of NSW, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/DBAssets/InquiryOther/Transcript/9544/John%20Mant%20090309.pdf
Peters, Jesse ‘New councillors for City of Sydney’, South Sydney Herald, 8 November 2012, http://www.southsydneyherald.com.au/new-councillors-for-city-of-sydney/#.XFEeXeQUlPY
Saulwick, Jacob, ‘The planning system is broken, now is the time to fix it’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 August 2016, https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-planning-system-is-broken-now-is-the-time-to-fix-it-20160831-gr56jp.html
Robert Freestone and Richard Whitington, ‘Urban planner and policy leader ‘made a difference’’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2021, https://www.smh.com.au/national/urban-planner-and-policy-leader-made-a-difference-20210719-p58auk.html