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Über dieses Buch

This book examines failed new city proposals in Australia to understand the hurdles – environmental, societal, and economic – that have curtailed such visions. The lessons from these relative failures are important because, if projections for Australia’s 21st century population growth are borne out, we will need to build new cities this century. This is particularly the case in northern Australia, where the federal government projects a four-fold increase in population in the next four decades. The book aims that, when we commence 21st century new city dreaming, we have learnt from the mistakes of the past and, are not doomed to repeat them.



Chapter 1. Introduction

There have been a slew of new city propositions in Australia since Federation in 1901; however, most of these have failed to materialize. This chapter provides a very brief overview of the arguments for building new cities in Australia. Principally, these relate to projections for extreme population growth and assessments that there is an overconcentration of people in the existing capital cities. The chapter also briefly introduces the dominant barriers—which are both pragmatic and psychological—that new city proposals have encountered. Finally, this chapter sets out the method, structure, and terminology of the book.
Julian Bolleter

Chapter 2. Creating a Rural Civilization

This chapter scopes the early to mid-twentieth century period (1901–1945) in which Australians strove to create a “rural civilization.” The fantasy that propelled this proposed civilization was that Australia might one day support a rural population of hundreds of millions. This, the proponents of the “garden city” model suggested, would deliver both physical and social health benefits while bolstering Australia’s defenses with a healthy “country-raised” population. The numerous new city proposals that emerged following the Second World War included a scheme to build cities around a permanently flooded Lake Eyre and dotted along vast railway networks circumscribing Australia’s arid interior. All these proposals floundered, however, because of the harsh realities of Australia’s interior and the enduring tyranny of distance. Added to this was the dominance and livability of the existing capital cities on the coast.
Julian Bolleter

Chapter 3. Decentralization Fever

This chapter covers the period between 1970 and 1975 when it appeared likely that Australia would begin a national-scale program of population decentralization and new city building under the Gough Whitlam Federal Labor Government. In 1972, the newly established Department of Urban and Regional Development actively pursued plans to develop three effectively new cities: Monarto in South Australia, Bathurst–Orange in New South Wales and Albury–Wodonga on the Victoria–New South Wales border. Proponents intended that these new cities would alleviate pressure on the capital cities that they considered overcrowded and deteriorating in both aesthetics and efficiency. Complementing this federal government effort, at the state level, was planning to establish new population centers in the Pilbara region for the Western Australian state government. This chapter traces the new and boosted city propositions that emerged in this period and identifies key barriers to their implementation such as the continued livability of existing state capital cities and centralizing economic forces.
Julian Bolleter

Chapter 4. New Northern Cities

There have been numerous recent proposals for new or boosted cities in northern Australia. These include new charter cities in the north proposed by World Bank Vice President Paul Romer. Other proposals include Western Australian state government plans to turn Pilbara mining company towns into bustling cities, and Northern Territory Government plans to build a satellite city orbiting Darwin. This chapter provides a tour of these new or boosted city proposals and discusses their agendas and spatial planning. These proposals are potentially important because the federal government has projected a possible fourfold increase in the north’s population by 2060.
Julian Bolleter

Chapter 5. Barriers to New Northern Cities

This chapter evaluates the potential barriers that could derail the delivery of the new or boosted city proposals for northern Australia, discussed in the previous chapter. These barriers are, to varying degrees, environmental, economic, societal, and governance-related and include carrying capacity issues, the cost of enabling infrastructure, and the question of how to stimulate growth in a new city. Many of these barriers will be familiar to readers who are acquainted with failed attempts at decentralization from the twentieth century. However, in some cases, these barriers have transmuted into different forms, with both changing technology and climate. Regardless, an analysis of these barriers reveals some formidable obstacles to new or boosted city developments in the north, of which proponents should be aware.
Julian Bolleter

Chapter 6. Relearning Lessons

This chapter summarizes the barriers to new or boosted city building experienced from Federation (1901) until today. The chapter concludes that, as a nation, we have failed to learn a number of the key lessons of history. We seem to have forgotten the limits that nature imposes, particularly in reference to population carrying capacity. We have discounted the effect the tyranny of distance and other psychological hurdles that we would have to overcome if we were to expect Australians relocate en masse to new regional or remote areas. This is worrying, as Australia’s population is projected surge this century. Without establishing new or boosted cities, population growth will continue to be concentrated in our state capitals which in time will become megacities—and as such their livability will be diminished.
Julian Bolleter
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