Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to defuse population bomb

Thats the title of Michael Stutchbury article in today's Australian.The basis of the article is proposal  by former NSW Treasury Secretary to decentralize and de-evolve government in Australia.:
Although it might appear radical for Australia, it would be commonplace in the US. After the 1906 earthquake, California shifted its state capital from San Franciso to Sacramento. After embracing decentralisation, California now has 59 cities with populations of more than 100,000. With one-fifth of California's population but less of its aridity, NSW would have 12 cities over 100,000 people if it had the same degree of decentralisation. Instead it has only three: Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.

Allan says regional development will not work unless power is devolved to the regions. He knows because he was part of attempts to do it. "NSW should stop being run like a penal colony that is micro-managed through heavy-handed commands and controls from Governor Macquarie Tower, " Allan writes. "It should become a modern state that funds a network of public, not-for-profit and private organisations to serve the public, which are then held to account against agreed yardsticks".

Allan's solution maintains that Australia's constitutional fathers expected the federation to move beyond the six states as its population increased, just as the US expanded from its original 13 colonies. Australians will keep gravitating to a few state capitals, he says, unless the mainland states are broken up into 15 to 25 smaller regional governments.

This is obviously outside present political reality. But the political reality also may be that siphoning most of the projected 60 per cent population growth by 2050 into a handful of big capital cities is not compatible with Australia's high urbanisation and low urban density; that is, with our traditional suburban lifestyle.
Sounds good to me, and we can start by modernising local government.

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