Infrastructure & Development

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Bob Dick commented on the Challenge Big Australia

There have been several suggestions for regional development rather than further increasing the size of our larger cities.  I’m not persuaded that this has to be either/or.

It’s understandable that citizens don’t wish large cities to undermine or destroy the pleasure of living there.  I live in Brisbane, and experience the way its growth is destroying some of its character.  Do large cities have to be unpleasant to live in?  I suspect not.

There is evidence I’ve seen that city size is associated with increased creativity and innovation.  Might it be that good design would allow those benefits to be achieved without suffering the disadvantage of size.

Assume cities continue to grow.  That need not prevent provincial centres also experiencing growth.  Here is Queensland (and I presume elsewhere) many provincial centres are losing citizens to the coastal strip.  I know that some would like to reverse that trend.

I’m venturing beyond my expertise here, and am willing to be corrected.  For both cities and provincial centres, though, it seems to be that it needn’t be size per se.  With good design, I assume many sizes can be beneficial.

 

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Bob Dick commented on the Challenge Big Australia

I think it helps to separate the issue of city size into two parts.  On the one hand, as several have said, the increased size can be at the cost of citizen well-being.  On the other hand, I understand that creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship are enhanced in larger cities.

I'm not persuaded that it is an imperative that larger cities are less pleasant to live in.  I would have thought that good design could counter, or at least ameliorate, that.

And does this have to be either/or?  There are provincial centres (here in Queensland, and I presume elsewhere) that are slowly losing people to the coastal strip.  I assume they would welcome an influx of new citizens.  Encouraging redevelopment of provincial centres does not need to be at the cost of larger cities.

 This is not an area of expertise for me, and I'm happy to be corrected.  At this stage, however, it seems to me that -- whatever is done -- it is done deliberately and with good design.

 

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Peter Grimbeek commented on the Challenge Big Australia

Previous comments have focused on the nexus between population growth and infrastructure. Here population growth is the problem and infrastructure is the solution. Infrastructure considered included fast rain-networks, the development of regional centres (would benefit from a real NBN), and questions about the management of water and land. Also, there is some emphasis on the global nature of these problems and solutions (aka, the global village).

My tack is a bit different. I would argue that our population might be growing but it is also aging, as is that in much of the first world, and also China. So, while the population might increase, the labour force is not necessarily going to be large enough nor will it be sufficiently skilled to deal with the many challenges associated with the incoming post-industrial economy.

These are not new issues. In 2008, just as the financial crisis was entering the room, one conversation was about how Australia was going to maintain a viable labour force in the face of an aging population and the increasing demand for highly skilled labour. The financial crisis slowly left the room but these two things remain with us.

One solution canvassed at the time was to develop an internationally based labour force that could do the work and then go away again. A reason for relying on such a labour force is the limit on developing the necessary skills on-shore. This limit also remains in place. For example, when driverless trucks and then cabs become part of the industrial landscape, what happens to those who can drive a vehicle day and night but cannot take on more highly skilled work?

From this dismal perspective, the challenge of the future for Australia, as elsewhere, is not only whether we will be big enough or too big for the global village but also how best to deal with those shunted aside by automation, etc., and how best to deal with an increasing number of aged people.

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Peter Grimbeek is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Lindley Edwards commented on the Solution A Big Australia

Agree with other commentators and would add we need to also consider World Population growth and refugees and what is an appropriate humanitarian response by Australia.  What is missing in many of these debates is an underlying strategy which road maps where Australia is going and what we should aspire to. It also needs to consider investment, infrastructure, our best responses at collective and individual level to structural changes and the use and care of physical resources and what is the social infrastructure we wish to have and maintain. 

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David Alexander is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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David Parsons is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Elissa Doxey commented on the Solution A Big Australia

 Agree, Tim - perhaps an acknowledgement of other factors that lead into (or out of) these scenarios would highlight related issues like you've mentioned, plus housing, waste management, transport infrastructure, employment, health, agriculture, etc.

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Tim Klapdor commented on the Solution A Big Australia

So I understand that these scenarios are based purely on different projects of population growth - but there are some underlying factors that need to be accounted for somewhere. Aspects around environment and arable land, climate, and finite resources like water will have great bearing on any of these projections. 

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Mark Cantor is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Martin Deering is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Steven Clark is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Michelle DALE is now contributing to a Challenge Building a Bolder, Faster Public Service

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Morrie Goodz is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Miranda Mortlock commented on the Challenge Big Australia

So as well as looking at population data- which is very helpful especially with the scenarios. There is a need to look at the land area, the types of ecosystems and productive capacity of the land. World wide models have been reported on net productivity, and the human used portion of this productivity can be determined for various levels of development.

Factors that affect productivity include

  • Climate, and  the variability between seasons
  • Soils, type, depth, water holding capacity, fertility
  • Surface water and ground water,
  • Land may be flood prone, disease infected - humans, crops  and livestock.

Aspects of relevance to population growth are the judicious use of land and will require planning for future growth:

  • Extensively for food and fibre - dryland crops and range land;
  • Intensively for irrigated crops - horticulture and dairy, pigs etc
  • Land for settlement- buildings, schools, hospitals
  • Land for mining, waste
  • Land for culture and national parks and protection of cultural sites

We have a large area, but the productive soils may be lost with suburban sprawl or waste-recyclable land fill areas.

A good plan for Australia would be to consider our land use, fresh water availability and understand the productivity of the land across regions in association with population projections. 

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Timothy London is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Lewe Atkinson commented on the Challenge Big Australia

Thanks for you contribution Corey Allen.  As a resident of the Kelvin Grove Urban Village we are aware of the work done in the early days of the village by yourself and others as part of project patch - https://mypolice.qld.gov.au/brisbanecentral/2015/04/30/project-patch-police-supporting-safe-housing/

Just to respond to you comments about the early days of the village and its evolution over the past decade.  What happened in the early days of the village was disappointing but predictable.  My work with the WA Housing Authority alerted me to a similar circumstance in the "Beaky Bronx" which is a social housing estate near Perth.  I learned during that engagement that there is a nominal threshold level (about 10-20%) of the total population that should be social housing tenants.  Anecdotal evidence shared with me suggested if you are over that threshold then you are more likely to see the sort of social problems that you experienced in the early days of our village in Kelvin Grove.  Sometimes dilution is the solution.

As I say to anyone who asks me - "I drank the Kool-Aid".  In 2012, my family & I moved into an apartment in the village because I believed in what the master plan for the community was attempting to achieve. The mix of socio-demographics was important to us as was the access to public transport.  The presence of the QUT campus & associated faciliites was also important, but it is still unclear whether QUT has fully embraced our village community.

We have been here for 6 years now and we have not regretted our decision to move here from Tarragindi (quite a contrast).  We have come to understand that successful community living requires a different mindset from the traditional "isolationist" Brisbane suburban perspective. I will use this "shift in mindset" as a segway to responding to the solution question above.

How can we ensure the scenarios are linked to global thinking and solutions?  I think that there is a global shift in thinking away from expecting governments (& big corporations e.g. banks) to provide solutions to social problems.  The emergent mindset is towards community-based solutions (some call this place-based), where we move towards enabling ourselves to be the solutions. 

This means that we start to understand the value of social capital and how we can help each other.  We start to shift away from the modern aussie value of "its not my problem" and towards a "community living " mindset that instead we start asking ourselves questions like; How can I benefit more people?; Which problems can I help solve?; Who do I need to partner with?

Living in the Kelvin Grove Village community has taught me an important lesson about the challenge of scaling community impact.  You have to start at home.  You have to start in your own building first.  Then gradually build you network across other buildings in the village before you can expect to start to have a sustainable impact at a scale that is sufficient to make the village a better place to live. 

We are facing a future where we can't rely on governments and corporations to do for us what we have come to expect.  The solutions that we need for the problems that we experience on a day to day basis need bespoke solutions that are peculiar to the people and problems that we face.  One size does not fit all anymore.  That's how we link our solutions to global solutions - by acting local.

I will close by reminding you what Peter Drucker has said about the future....“In a few hundred years when history of our time will be written from a long term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the internet, not ecommerce.  It is an unprecedented change in the human condition.  For the first time – literally – substantial and rapid growing numbers of people have choices.  For the first time, they will have to manage themselves.  And society is totally unprepared for it.” 

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Gaith Bader commented on the Solution A Big Australia

To clarify what NOM is to the reader, we should add Net overseas migration (NOM) to the first mention of it.

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Corey Allen is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Corey Allen commented on the Challenge Big Australia

The accelerated formation and development of community, especially in clusters both urban and suburban have been very problematic from the safety and security perspective.  How do we match the needs of an emerging community often made up of people from elsewhere with little support?  Our experience at Kelvin Grove Urban Village here in Brisbane showed that thrusting people together, regardless of how well designed the architecture, can cause the emergence of dysfunctional, disconnected people with high needs, high risk and a potentially negative trajectory.  People hurriedly grouped together without the social framework to support the development of real community can suffer.  I saw residents isolated in their homes, whilst the negative influences in the community became dominant.  This was only turned around when we reconnected people with services, with each other and made the village a safe place to live. With the need for multi-generational living, smaller homes, and capacity to handle the inevitable growth, our lesson was to ensure that the social architecture is as important as the bricks and mortar.  Plan for appropriate support services, appropriate supportive community police presence and build activities that promote community ownership before the first sod is turned.  Implement the social framework progressively as the community culture grows and help it grow in the right direction - a direction that the community members own and will sustain.  I am happy to say despite once being referred to as an urban slum, Kelvin Grove Urban Village now is a diverse and cohesive community with minimal police calls for service.  

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A new Solution was published A Big Australia

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MindHive commented on the Challenge Big Australia

Hi all - we're keen to move the conversation into the Solution room. There we can tease out some thinking on four scenarios for the future growth of Australia:

  • First scenario: Low immigration
  • Second scenario: Constant immigration
  • Third scenario: High immigration
  • Fourth scenario: Net immigration drops to zero.

Tonight you have been sent an invitation to join the panel - this means that you can also now edit the content - not just comment. Hoping you can join us - Tim Klapdor it would be interesting how you could frame the impact on a 'sense of community' within each of the scenarios - Tom Orren we'd get great value from you considering how technologies would be impacted and also how they could assist in the various scenarios - Gaith Bader moderation and sustainable living needs to operate across all scenarios - your practical suggestions would add great value to the richness of the scenarios - Lewe Atkinson how can we ensure the scenarios are linked to global thinking and solutions? - Miranda Mortlock could all scenarios consider the benefit from a slower, sustainable growth across some parts of our continent - roxane shadbolt which scenario has most opportunity to create a new paradigm? Elissa Doxey sprawl and the regions are critical in all scenarios - Judy Szekeres how do we ensure all aspects are fully planned and considered in each scenario - Timothy Flor and Ross Lentell infrastructure demand and planning in each scenario critical. 

If you arrive to the discussion after this comment - you're not too late to join. Just request an invite.

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Tim Klapdor commented on the Challenge Big Australia

To address the two questions:

What sort of place do we want to live in?

I think one of the key components of the Australian lifestyle is a sense of community. We want to know and interact with our neighbours and support the place we live in. In many ways population poses problems with the concept around how we have traditionally done this. We were a country of small distributed communities. For a great deal of our history, especially in pre-colonial times, we have lived as distributed communities across the great space the country has to offer. We lived and connected with each other, supported each other, knew peoples names. I think most people want that, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. Urban environments and the suburbs and the reliance of the car has challenged those traditions. We need to rethink community and how we maintain it in newer times. 

What are we determined to hang onto and what are we prepared to give up?

I'm probably in the minority of Australians but I think we need to reduce our footprint on the environment. We need to take less out of the environment and contribute more to it's health and wellbeing, but I think we need to stop the sprawl. The sprawl makes it incredibly difficult to maintain communities because we have to physically move greater distances - to school, work and shops. It's an extraordinary luxury if any of those things are located in proximity of where we live - which seems the opposite of how you would plan and build towns and cities let alone communities. One answer is higher density, but the other is to become more distributed. To live in smaller communities and repopulate the regions. Regional Australia supported much larger populations and have suffered huge population losses and financial imperatives drove greater centralisation of business and a services to the cities. A connected region - via an actual NBN and rail would provide a back bone that could support not only a higher population, but one that is less stressful on the capital cities. 

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Tim Klapdor is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Tom Orren is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Tom Orren commented on the Challenge Big Australia

Nothing can stop the world's population from growing to its estimated peak of 10 billion or so. This is a global, not a national problem. Apart from building a wall around Australia and barring entry to everyone not already inside it, Australia cannot isolate itself form this global problem. In this context, Dick Smith's views seem particularly outdated.

Therefore, Australia will have to plan for a much bigger population.

However, we have not even begun to explore the technologies that could help us cope with a much bigger population. There is no doubt that there are technologies (some of which have yet to be developed) that could help us support 50 or even 100 million people. The only thing that needs shifting is our vision.

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Kaerlin McCormick is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

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Jesse Arrowsmith is now contributing to a Challenge Big Australia

 
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