Is there anything in Australia’s new Sustainable Population Strategy?

Johnny - Urban Observer

Johnny is an urban planner, population forecaster and spatial consultant with an extraordinary knowledge of places across Australia. He has been forecasting, analysing, and mapping Australia’s urban changes since the late 1980s and has worked as a land analyst for State Government in Victoria and a strategic planner for Blacktown City Council in NSW. As a Lead Consultant for .id, Johnny has completed projects informing Board-level decisions with the AFL, NRL Stockland, Red Cross and numerous education providers. Johnny undertakes comprehensive forecasting for Local Governments in Vic, WA, SA, NSW and NZ.

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8 Responses

  1. Simone says:

    Great summation JB – you’re correct – overall it is very non-commital in terms of what government is doing. Just what is a sustainable population anyway? It’s almost an advertisement as to the $ being allocated to various projects – certainly the NBN was mentioned several times. I personally think the NBN is a worthwhile forward looking infrastructure investment (better than playing catch up as per transport infrastructure), but it does intrigue me that they will put money into promoting suburban employment. Seems strange when, to take Melbourne as an example, only about 1 in 10 employed persons actually work in the CBD. So we already have suburban jobs! To me, the issue is the types of jobs – CBDs tend to have the higher end, professional, knowledge economy type jobs, whereas suburban employment on the whole is geared towards service provision. It’s also about jobs dispersal – at least with the CBD, travel to work is channelled into one location – when it’s dispersed across a metro area you create cross metro travel flows which can lead to congestion issues and greater car dependency (because Australian cities tend to have public transport and road networks focussed on the CBD and State governments tend not to be overly committed to providing cross town public transport unless it involves a bus).

    It also intrigues me that they want to promote regional living, but won’t commit to decentralisation as per the 1970s. Not that I think this is a particularly bad thing, but instead, they’re talking about market-led reform. While population growth in regional centres can take the pressure off state capitals and other fast growing regions, market led options don’t always have desired outcomes. Has the market not already spoken when you look at the spatial distribution of population growth in Australia?

    I also think the issue of tourism led development in the regions needs closer examination. Many tourism jobs are seasonal and unskilled. The impact on towns of seasonal population peaks eg Phillip Island, need careful management. So it’s not as simple as tourism=jobs=growth.

    Just a few of my thoughts on SASC.

  2. Stewart says:

    An interesting article and thank you. but very presumptuous particularly in saying places like “Bendigo is likely to never have commuter rail”. Paricularly given that the DoT has recently announces a commuter station north of the city on the back of an already commuter station to the south. Additionally to that point, the fringe growth in regional centres is still less than a dozen kilometres from cbd (employment, services etc)

    • Johnny says:

      Additional stations designed to get people to Melbourne are one thing, stations designed to get people from all over Bendigo to jobs in the Bendigo CBD is another thing. Growth in employment in regional centres is still likely to be highly car focussed. The main point I was making is that there is an overwhelming assumption that growth in regional centres is somehow more sustainable that that of major metropolitan centres. I’m not convinced but would be happily proved wrong is some research in this area was undertaken.

  3. Phil says:

    Regarding whether there is a need for more jobs in the suburbs: to use the north west part of the Perth metro area as an example: this area is planned to have about another 250,000 to 300,000 people living in it over the next 50 years. Transport studies have been done to see what sort of transport sytems will be required in the northern part of the Perth region to serve that growth, and the modelling which has been done as part of those studies has shown that even if the private and public systems in the northern part of the Perth region are provided at their maximum capacities, and if there is only a moderate increase in the proportion of local jobs, the transport systems will not cope. Such congestion has obvious environmental, economic and social impacts. The modelling shows that a really substantial increase is required in local jobs if these transport problems and associated impacts are to be avoided.

    • Johnny says:

      Northern Perth is a good example of significant residential growth currently without major employment. Even if jobs are located in the north, the congestion will still eventuate as people living in the north drive to these jobs. The key here is make sure the employment is located both on the railway and is serviced by an expansive radiating bus network. Also need a good density of employment (eg multi storey offices) to encourage public transport and lessen congestion. The trick will be to get those office type uses into the suburbs.

  4. Robin Spragg says:

    Yes, very hard to see a clear advantage in dispersal of employment, but I suppose it comes down to the transport facts that sustainable public transport is used by a minority, and unsustainable cars will continue to be used by the majority for a long time ahead, so dispersed employment is a way of minimising car travel distances.

    Having said that, a survey of work travel here in the Northern Rivers of NSW, where most could live within walking distance of work if they wished, recently found more than half of workers fell into the maximum travel distance category of more than 21kms, some travelling 50kms by car daily. I think we need peak oil fast to concentrate our minds.

  5. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Firefox. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Kudos

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