Blaming Foreigners for Unaffordable Housing


In a number of Western world cities, there is rising concern about foreign housing purchases which may be driving up prices for local residents. Much of the attention is aimed at mainland Chinese buyers in metropolitan areas where housing is already pricier than elsewhere. The concern about housing affordability is legitimate. However, blaming foreigners misses the point, which is that the rising prices are to a large degree the result of urban containment policies implemented by governments.  read more »

Better Suburbs = Better Cities: Employment and the Importance of the Suburban Economy


Australia’s inner city areas and CBDs are a focus of media and public policy attention, with good reason. But it’s also true that the real engines of employment are outside the inner city areas and that the dominant role of our suburban economy as an economic engine is grossly understated, even ignored. This is not good public policy. It’s not even common sense. 

I have a view that the focus on urban renewal and inner urban economic development has become a policy obsession of late.  read more »

Where We Live: The Case for Suburban Renewal


The advent of Australian ‘urban renewal’ in the 1990s has been such a blistering policy success that it’s now arguably well out of proportion to the realities of need based on where people actually live. It’s as if the magic “5 kilometre ring” around our city centres has become a policy preoccupation and an industry obsession. One look at the evidence though suggests perhaps it’s time we turned attention to the suburbs, where the vast majority of us live, to restore some balance.  read more »

What We Earn


Discussions about housing affordability focus almost exclusively on the price of the real estate, movements in which are monitored by multiple organisations on a seemingly daily basis. There is comparatively little discussion about people’s incomes, which are equally as important as prices in determining what can and can’t be reasonably afforded. The income profile of what most Australian’s actually earn paints a sobering picture which could more often be taken into account in debates about housing and affordability.  read more »

Urban Core Jurisdictions: Similar in Label Only


The fortunes of U.S. core cities (municipalities) have varied greatly in the period of automobile domination that accelerated strongly at the end of World War II. This is illustrated by examining trends between the three categories of "historical core municipalities" (Figure 1).  read more »

Cities and Sustainability: Is Intensification Good Policy?


This post examines the idea that we can promote sustainability by increasing the densities of large cities around their centres.  This compact city paradigm presumes that we can reshape the consumption of citizens in environmentally benign ways by reshaping the cities they live in.    read more »

A Suburban Economic Future?


The basic, often unappreciated, fact  about economic life in Australia’s  metropolitan regions are that most of the jobs are in suburban locations. Our central business districts (CBDs) – prominent though they are – account for only around 10% of all metro wide jobs. That rises to maybe 15% if you include inner city areas. But still, 85% of everyone else who calls Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne home works somewhere other than the CBD or inner city.  read more »

The Myth of Green Australia


Having collected the Nobel peace prize in 2007, Al Gore’s fortunes as a climate crusader slid into the doldrums.  But 8th November 2011 arrived as a ray of sunshine. On that day Australia’s parliament passed into law the world’s first economy-wide carbon tax. Rushing to his blog, Gore posted a short but rapturous statement, cross-posted in The Huffington Post. His fervent language echoed in progressive circles across the globe.  read more »

Green Office Towers Cast Shadow Over Sydney


Known for her spiky hair, studded-collar and heels, Sydney’s Lord Mayor is the epitome of progressive chic. For a green activist, though, Clover Moore attracts some surprising company. Landlords owning 58 per cent of the CBD’s office space have rushed to join her Better Buildings Partnership, an alliance “to improve the sustainability performance of existing commercial and public sector buildings”.  read more »

Commuting in Australia


Data from the 2011 censuses indicates that mass transit is gaining market share in all of but one of Australia's major metropolitan areas. The greatest increase as in Perth, at 21% , aided by the new Mandurah rail line to the southern urban fringe. On average, mass transit's market share increased by 10.8% in the five metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population. This increase seems likely to be in response to both mass transit service improvements (such as in Perth) and higher petrol (gasoline) prices.  read more »