Australia

The Myth of Green Australia

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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

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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

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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 »

Modern Families: Fact from Fiction

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I sometimes struggle with our willingness to look straight through evidence to see only what we want to see, or what we believe we should be seeing. Some recent interpretations of the Australian census and conclusions about housing form and consumer choice regrettably fall into this category.

Early results from the Australian census may have disappointed some boosters who have actively promoted the view that the typical family household is a thing of the past. The argument has had many forms but usually includes one or more of the following:  read more »

From California to Canberra, the Real Class War

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Just under a year before she crawled over Kevin Rudd to claim the Prime Minister’s office, Julia Gillard visited the United States in her then capacity as Australia’s Education Minister. Her stay in Los Angeles took in the Technical and Trades College, where she brushed up on the teaching of “green skills,” a subject close to her heart.  read more »

Populate or Perish?

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Many global population projections point to the current world population of roughly seven billion people peaking at around nine to ten billion in 2050, after which numbers will slowly decline. In the midst of this growth, Australia’s current population of 23 million is predicted to rise to around 30 or 35 million in the same period. This low growth outlook has been called ‘big Australia.’ We are kidding ourselves, aren’t we?  read more »

Australian Elections: A Comeback for Pro-growth Policy?

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The latest local government elections in Queensland, along with the by election for former Premier Anna Bligh’s state seat of South Brisbane, may point to a fundamental shift in popular mood back in favour of growth and development. After many years of anti-growth policy paranoia, it’s a refreshing wind if it lasts.  read more »

Alternative Growth Paths for Sydney: A New Report and its Implications

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Population growth in Australia is double the world average and the New South Wales Department of Planning has projected that the population of the Sydney region will increase by 57,000 people annually. How will these extra people be housed?  The NSW Government follows the usual doctrines based on higher population densities. Its planning policy, known as The Metropolitan Strategy, works on locating some 70% of new dwellings within existing urban communities (in-fill) and 30% in new greenfield sites.   read more »

The Use and Misuse of Glaeser's Triumph of the City

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Appeals to authority are now the stock-in-trade of progressive pundits across a range of public controversies. In the face of popular discontent bubbling up from forums on the net and elsewhere, their fall-back posture is heavy-handed ‘expertism’. Policymaking is the prerogative of those with the right qualifications and credentials. Ordinary citizens should butt-out, no matter how self-interested the experts may seem. So too in the field of urban policy, encumbered as it is with a green-compact-city orthodoxy, do appeals to authority hold sway.  read more »

Will You Still House Me When I'm 64?

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In the song by the Beatles, the worry was about being fed and needed at 64. Things have changed. If the Beatles wrote those lyrics today, the worry instead might be about housing.  read more »