Oct 27, 2009

We don’t need new fast trains, Albo, we need new cities

When it comes to infrastructure, what we need first and foremost are not new rail lines. Not even fast rail lines. What we need are new cities.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


There have probably been worse appearances on Lateline than last night’s Anthony Albanese extravaganza. Greg Sheridan’s encounter with George Galloway in the lead-up to the Iraq war comes to mind, when the grumpy Grouper spent most of the segment yelling “don’t go off your medication, George” at Galloway’s satellite image — leaving a bewildered nation muttering “physician heal thyself”.

And doubtless there have been times when a guest, getting up to go, has forgotten the clip mike cable, wrapped it around their neck, pulled themselves into their waterglass and drowned.

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38 thoughts on “We don’t need new fast trains, Albo, we need new cities

  1. james mcdonald

    Does anyone know why desert cities never took off in Australia as they did in the US? Don’t bite head off if that’s a dumb question.

  2. Karl Reed

    Yes, Rundle is absolutely right! We need new cities, most likely in the North, where there is water. But, adding 3 million to Melbourne is criminally insane! The rhetorical question is..

    “How many cities as big or bigger than Melbourne are there in Europe?” A hint.. Australia has 2 such cities and a population of 21 Million, therefore, 1 Melbourne/10.5 Million.

    So, there are about 350 Million people in Europe.. So, we expect about 35 cities as big as Melbourne or bigger?

    But, are there?

    A similar argument applied to GB with a population of 50 million would have five such cities.

    But, are there?

    Oh dear, I am seriously aggravated by this Government’s ignorance and inaction!

    Karl Reed

  3. Kylie Zupp

    We don’t need new cities, Rundo, we need less people!

  4. Jim Wright

    Albanese is quite right ! So is Guy Rundle. The point is, if the infrastructure is not in place, no one will want to go to these cities. What we need is a statewide master plan, identifying the best places for development and the infrastructure to serve them. Not only that, we need taxation benefits to persuade people (and more importantly, potential employers) to move there, we need protocols to prevent entrepreneurs from manipulating the system to their own benefit. We need people who are prepared to go out into the dry areas and reverse the effects of desertification (dry country refugees from the Middle East would jump at the chance of compulsory 5-year contracts to engage in this work if they were promised the opportunity to save money and the right to become fullcitizens afterwards). We need to make determined efforts to invent and develop new teechnology (and what is more, hang on to it!) .
    If we could create and sell to the world, the technology that would make deserts inhabitable or at worst economically support fly-in/fly out projects other than digging holes, we would become rich. Here are some examples. (1). Years ago, the ABC Landline program featured someone (back of Mildura, I believe) who had erected huge glass-houses made of plastic (to keep the hail out) with a computer-controlled environment and recycled water and was producing several crops of hydroponically grown legumes and vines each year. (2). A proposal is on the table somewhere to build a huge glass-house, several kilometres square with a flue, about a kilometre and a half high in the mddle. The theory is that the difference in weather conditions at ground level and in the upper atmosphere would create an updraught which would power turbines to control the environment. (3). Pump water into dry areas from water-rich areas using pipes with many small turbines along their length, all powered by solar energy, the cells sitting on top of the pipes.
    There are so many things we could do, but they must be co-ordinated and paid for as part of a grand plan or none of it will come to fruition.

  5. meski

    How are you proposing to lessen the number of people, Kylie?

  6. Guy Rundle

    interesting question on desert cities. Until recently they were all small. Sante Fe, Phoenix, Vegas were Spanish then Mexican trading outposts.

    Vegas grew by the simple expedient of being in the only state where gambling was legal until the 70s – and still the only state where prostitution is legal.

    Phoenix has grown from retirement moves – dry heat for old bones.

    Albuquerque – large scale state investment

    LA diverted water from surrounding valleys (see Chinatown)

    None of them are even remotely sustainable water-wise

    I’m talking cities of the hinterland, the green east of Oz

  7. michael crook

    None of you seem to understand that the only way decisions are made in Australia is solely dependent on whether someone can make a dollar out of it. Whether Labor or Liberal, the only criteria for decision making is the economic well being of an opportunist, whether individual or corporate. Why else do you think we are still mining coal even though we know it is killing the planet. Why else do you think we put totally inadequate resources into things like child safety and preventative health. Why have Brisbane suburbs been turned into a bombsite of road construction while public transport languishes. Why else do we cheer for increased personal consumption and waste. The age of personal self gratification and conspicuous consumption is still with us. The question we should be asking, is, what are you going to do about it. Yes, thats right, you.

  8. John Molloy

    Guy, I notice you picking on Elizabeth. Well done! (Sorry, that was uncalled for). Elizabeth is an example of a satellite city that was overtaken by suburban sprawl. SA seems to have a penchant for such things. Monarto, for example. Originally going to be a satellite city in the 70s (like Elizabeth in the 50s) Monarto is now a zoo (like Elizabeth now).

    Sydney. Where would you put the satellite cities? Wallarawang? Appin? Gunderman? Hey, I’m warming to this. It just might work.

  9. Rena Zurawel

    Perhaps we do need more cities. But to build a single one, we need a good transport infrastructure, first.
    In present monetary culture I am not sure we can build anything, let alone a city. Commercial greed, our taxation system, GST and strong lobby groups representing countries other than Australia are the biggest barrier to any development. Building infrastructure does not bring immediate profit so we focus on many totally useless albeit profitable enterprises which give us immediate return. To build a new city we would have to direct taxpayers’ money into our country’s needs. Stop costly wars, cut bureaucracy by half, CEO’s salaries, bonuses and perks. Ease licensing system. Build a national grit so we can have energy resources available nationally.
    Giving an example, Whyalla in SA comes to mind. The town was built for 50 000 people. There are currently 22 000 with the infrastructure for a much bigger township. Monopoly of BHP would never allow any other companies to be there. Council would not issue permits. Situated in the vicinity of the richest iron ore deposits Whyalla alone would provide for steel needs of the entire country. It did not happen, it will never happen. We import steel from overseas.
    It would be nice if a 18 km bridge were built from Pt. Germain to Port Bonython which would cut short the distance from Adelaide to Whyalla by half (200km). In Japan they build bridges 50 km long.
    There are not that many cities ‘born’ on a drawing board. Adelaide is one of them. New cities do get built if there is a need. It would be nice if there was a fast, solar power operated train from Adelaide to Melbourne, but I don’t think oil companies would allow to build one. Steel from One Steel should be available.
    The question is: Can we build a new city all by ourselves? Would the bidding process for contractors be fair and free of corruption?
    Or shall we ask Chinese to do it for us?

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