Great Australian Dream is Fading Says Planner Joel Kotkin

by Georgia Shaw, The Daily Telegraph

This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph

A leading urban planner has accused planners of destroying the great Australian dream and urged the government to drive a renewed focus on middle Australia by targeting development on the outskirts of Sydney.

Decentralising growth across Sydney would drive down housing prices, improve the cost of living for Aussie battlers and boost environmental outcomes, America’s “uber-geographer”, Joel Kotkin told the sixth annual Bradfield Oration.

Investing in infrastructure and jobs in the outer suburbs of Sydney will dramatically change outcomes for disappearing “middle Australia,” he said, arguing that the great Australian dream had been destroyed by the centralisation of growth.

The powerful comments come after editor Ben English told the audience of more than 200 that Sydney’s future depended on city planners coming together with a co-ordinated vision for the future of the city.

“Sydney’s an amazing place, no doubt, but only if we keep it that way. The indictment however is a bit harder to defend. And the charge is this: how is it that we, members of the collective brains trust of this city, have managed so few world-class feats of engineering and development in the past century? “I don’t think it’s because we here in Sydney lack vision … I’d put it to you that the problem is we have too many competing visions.”

With home ownership sitting at less than 45 per cent and families increasingly choosing not to have children, Mr Kotkin urged governments to plan the city’s future not merely for apartment dwellers, but for the forgotten suburbs.

“We are creating a situation where it’s very difficult for people to start a family and have kids and that’s not the future I want.

“All these people came for the great Australian dream and they don’t get it. I don’t want to know what the political and social ramifications of that will be.”

Read the rest of the article at The Daily Telegraph.