TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Several international indexes consistently rank Australia's major cities as some of the world's most liveable.And big cities bring economic growth, and crime...
But there's no shortage of Australian city dwellers who will complain about the expensive housing, traffic jams and slow public transport.
Professor John Stanley says don't expect additional government investment to come to the rescue.
TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The report also calls for a whole new way of thinking about cities with a focus on small and manageable.How big are Australian cities? You can't decentralise if there is no work at the decentralised locations.
The director of programs at the ADC Forum Anton Roux says there are economic gains from having a large dense city but there are problems too.
With size comes economic growth but also crime. And once a city gets too large the additional negative consequences start to outweigh the benefits.
He says Australia needs to think very differently about its urban centres.
You could have this utopia...
ANTON ROUX: Just imagine a network of city nodes, each a few hundred thousand people connected to advanced communications technology and transport access, where people don't need to travel too far from home to find meaningful work, where the society is economically productive and competitive, socially and ecologically resilient, surrounded by lush forests perhaps geo-engineered in large scale reforestation programs to bring increased rainfall and subsisting on vertical agriculture where food produce is grown in multi-storey glass houses.
And while people would live in closer proximity the quality and quantity of their public spaces, parks and gardens would be much greater too.
The Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese launched the report this morning in Sydney. He says the Government will look at many of the ideas in the report but there are others he's not so sure about.
These villages mentioned above seem to be urban villages, so really, there will be the same problems as the city. Besides, if you look at places in Australia like Macquarie Fields and other suburbs out near Campbelltown, particularly the experimental Housing Commission (Government housing), single parent villages (check out Proctor Way, Claymore), which were built with their backs to the street and their front to parkland (a handy escape route for burglars), and filled with single parents*, some lax on discipline, some into drugs, poor**, and/or generally undesirable, what hope was there?
I would imagine that all these years later the single parent family suburbs have changed (I would hope they have!). They were traps for people who found it difficult to get transport to jobs and to find work nearby - they were really out in the middle of nowhere! However, these days the suburbs surround Campbelltown and the Hume Highway has estates all along it.
With the NBN everyone will be able to telecommute, and use their computers to work at home.... well, of course. How many employers will allow that? Not a lot I'd imagine. And the bloke who works in the factory, or the receptionist, they can't work at home.
*I'm not rubbishing single parents, I think many people were trapped in these estates with nowhere else to go and they couldn't better their situations because of their location, lack of infrastructure, etc.
**I'm not saying poor people, or Housing Commission people, are undesirable, but it is undesirable to put them all together in cheap estates miles from work and other opportunities because they may end up trapped in that welfare merry-go-round.