Australia seeks to grow the prosperity, liveability and wellbeing of its people. Certain government policies are the antithesis of this. Federal and State Governments, with Opposition acquiescence, plan to increase the populations of Sydney and Melbourne to +8m in mega-cities over the next 4-5 decades. Brisbane is also to double. This is the designed consequence of the policy of developing Badgerys Creek Airport in western Sydney before the next election and of indefinitely deferring construction of High Speed Rail (HSR) to protect Badgerys Creek Airport and the airlines from competition.
Construction of HSR would enable creation of a mega-region and distribution of +10m of the projected 25m population doubling in the next decades into the regions around Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in innovation cities built on the HSR line. The new cities of up to 3m would relieve the three major cities of 10m increase in population, loss of their world leading spatial liveability, demolition of most single housing to make way for high densification, fading of their innovation through extreme congestion, poor public transport and hubs which disrupt people from meeting to exchange ideas. People would be saved too from prosperity being less resilient and their existing wellbeing and that of their children less certain.
It is proposed that the ban on HSR be lifted and governments concentrate strongly on increasing innovation in new cities on the HSR line. This would focus Australia endeavour clearly on building a highly innovative, cooperative, world class mega-region on the east coast, including new innovation cities and old cites connected rapidly by HSR. The aim is to settle +10m in the regions in new cities instead of in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The vision is to grow Australia’s prosperity, liveability and wellbeing.
The strategy is to continue high immigration; coordinate efforts to build the mega-region; construct HSR and new cities; ensure all-out focus and emphasis on innovation and productivity improvement; concentrate on the 20% that give 80% of the results; and develop Australian advantages in niche global markets. (Please see “Two mega-cities or a Mega-region?” on web site www.veryfasttrain.com.au )
Overview of new cities
Six new cities designed for up to 3m people, two each in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, would be built on the HSR line less than 60 minutes commuter time to their major city CBDs. Larger growing cities tend to lose their innovation thrust. The new cities of greater than 3m would become too congested with insufficient public transport. Any more than 3m and another new city on HSR would be started. New cities would be greenfield developments in the country, not reconstruction of old existing major cities. For this reason, they would be lower cost to build than expanding mega-cities. They would be built from scratch, rather than incur the cost of demolishing most of the occupied major city housing and rebuilding it in higher rise according to governments’ published plan at present. New cities would not be villages or towns, but serious cities of 3m. (Please see” Relative Cost of Government Infrastructure” on web site.) More new cities would be built on HSR, if the population should grow to 75-100m by 2100.
To promote innovation in the new cities, people would be clustered and closely connected by the public transport system designed for 3m from the beginning. There would be minimal congestion. Great attention would be paid to making the new cities attractive to new settlers with a full range of jobs, low cost housing, public facilities, spatial liveability, open green spaces, excellent education and health, government funds for R&D, social lifestyle, beaches, and lower cost of living compared to major cities. Cities dedicated to opportunities for innovation would attract innovative and entrepreneurial people.
The new cities located in the country near the sea would be nearer to farming communities who need rapid, convenient medical and mental health attention and closer excellent higher education than in the major cities far away. The air is cleaner and healthier in the country for new residents, unlike London’s poor air quality for 8m people from its excellent transport system of tubes, diesel buses and taxis.
There would be plans and provision for a complete, comprehensive public transport system of Metros, trams and roads from the start to make CBD connections easy. It would avoid the lack of public transport and great congestion which sap innovation. There would be no unconnected business hub in suburbs.
The new cities would encourage innovation from the beginning. They would be designed to be very sustainable at low cost in new buildings instead of retro-fitting buildings in old cities. They would be greenfield with plenty of scope for organic growth within the public transport framework.
Design for new innovative cities
The language here is “There is…”, not “There would be…”, to recognise that this is an initial imagination of a new city and to save words and space.
The city is built in a rural region over and around the HSR station in a trench at its centre. Wheel-on-rail HSR is chosen as well tested, safe, timely and readily financed. The station more than 20km from the HSR express line, which is on the shortest and most customer friendly route between two major cities for travel time of less than 3 hours. The city is about 20km in radius or 40km in diameter on mainly flat land. It is 20-30km away from the nearest country town to avoid encroachment and LGA conflict.
Planning and design of each totally new city is best done by one new Metropolitan LGA with control of its budget, rather than a collection of sub-optimum, difficult to coordinate LGAs. Regional LGAs have no experience of building 3m innovation cities, nor is their existing infrastructure appropriate.
Stopping HSR trains leave the express line on a loop to the station. The city centre is 20km from the express line to insulate the city, except the nearest 2km or so of city outskirts, from noise of HSR express trains. The express Fast Freight Rail (FFR) built next to the express HSR line at the same time connects all major old and new cities. The stopping FFR freight yard is on a separate at grade loop through the 2km industrial zone on cheap land on the city side of the HSR express line on the city outskirts.
The new city in Gippsland 150-250km to the east of Melbourne, for example, is in an attractive setting for new settlers. It is near beaches and surf, The Gippsland Lakes, farm land and towns, forests and bush, mountains, rivers and snowfields. It has a ‘Mediterranean’ climate. It is close to Canberra by HSR.
The HSR station
The stopping HSR line is in a trench for up to 20km in each direction to the city fringe. Speed is limited to 100km/h in the trench to minimise noise and vibration. There are no level crossings to cause local congestion. There is no devaluing of property by a nearby at grade or elevated railway. The ‘land’ above the trenches is valuable. The first dwellings in the city are built above the trenches. Sale of these dwellings contributes to funding the development of the station and its precinct, the inner CBD.
Platforms for the eventual 18 coach HSR trains are below ground in the trench. Station facilities are at ground level above. Two public squares of 3-400m, one formal and the other a garden with fountains, flower beds, shade trees and benches, are one story above ground level on a podium on either side of the station. The Metropolitan LGA Town Hall, public buildings, offices and banks are around the formal square. Buildings are of six stories in height to avoid too much shadow and be a more human scale. Commercial buildings of six stories are around the informal square. All buildings on the squares have flat roofs for driverless electric air taxis to land eventually for quick links to the airport and suburbs. At informal square level in the commercial buildings facing the open garden square there are hotels, outdoor/indoor cafes, tea rooms, bars, pubs, bistros, restaurants, discos and night-clubs for socialising.
Below the two squares at ground level there are many small shops and services, sandwich shops, lunch bars and cafes like those under Tokyo HSR station and under Singapore’s Orchard Road buildings.
Access is via ramps, stairs, elevators and lifts. Pedestrians pass below one square through the station concourse to more shops below the other square. Above the square, they pass through a glassed-in cross access between the squares above the station concourse. Above this is a glassed-in moving walkway along the HSR station to the next street in both directions.
There is a podium at the same level for the two squares over all six of the streets and the six streets at right angles in the inner CBD. The purpose is to increase the geometry available for commuters’ easy access to the CBD and to minimise vehicular and pedestrian congestion. There are in effect five levels separating modes of passenger transport: below ground, the HSR station platforms, including time-sensitive freight services and air freight to the airport; at ground level, station facilities and concourse, and in the streets at ground level below the podium, access for light rail, but no vehicles; above the podium, access for cars and driverless electric vehicles (DEVs) on each street, but no trams; one story above the podium, a moving walkway for pedestrians: and at roof level, access later for air vehicles. Light rail passes through all twelve inner CBD streets below the podium with platforms for passengers boarding and alighting and wide footpaths. The streets above the podium are six lanes for vehicles, two for pick-up and set-down and four for through traffic. There are wide footpaths for pedestrian movement. There is minimal parking for cars. DEVs circulate 24/7. There is no inner CBD street parking to free more vehicle pick-up and set-down space.
Inner and outer CBD
The inner CBD has twelve, two level main streets, six each way. There are 24 inner-city blocks plus the two squares in one central block. There are small streets above and below the podiums through blocks parallel to the two squares for deliveries and pedestrians, like Little Collins Street. Buildings are constructed with main entrances on the streets below and above the podium, and with arcades through them between streets. The walk-way above the HSR station extends in both directions as a broad, glassed-in, moving walkway one story above the podium across adjacent streets, through buildings to above further podium streets for ease of pedestrian access. The Town Hall faces the formal square and main street, where there is a podium ANZAC memorial or cenotaph.
The inner CBD covered by the podium is restricted to offices, shops, hotels and churches. Residential high rises are built in the outer CBD. There are 20 ground level blocks adjacent to the sixth inner-CBD podium streets on their outer sides which may be determined as either inner-CBD or outer-CBD. They are suitable for botanical gardens, parks, arts, entertainment, sports, and essential services. The inner CBD is about 1km square and the outer is the 2km around the inner. Buildings in the inner CBD are high-rise, but not too high to shade the close by squares for too long. They are higher further away. Residential buildings are high-rise then gradually lower as they are built beyond the outer CBD down to medium and low-rise flats, and then to single story houses with gardens, their own green space, on ¼ acre blocks in the suburbs. All are within about 1km of a Metro station or a tram or a highway.
The underlying transport infrastructure
The Metro system consists of three lines each 40km long in trenches reaching to opposite sides of the city boundaries giving six 20km routes. Each line branches out at 10km to the boundary giving 12 routes for greater access to the CBD for residents. Two lines are boomerang shaped with their elbows on either side of the HSR station. The third line follows in the trench next to the HSR to the city boundaries. All routes have four tracks, two operating and two for later expansion when the city grows. A fifth track may be considered for expresses. All tracks are in trenches and have dwellings for four stories above. Greenfield trenches are dug by a mining contractor with knowhow, heavy equipment and explosives.
The first Metro stations are 1km from the HSR station to the rim of the inner CBD and the next is 1km more to the middle of the outer CBD. They are then every 2km. The farthest that residents above tracks must walk on rooftop footpaths is 1km or 20 minutes to the nearest station and shops. They can walk to the CBD. The Metro stations form local nodes for transport and services. The tram system also has circular routes around the city intersecting the Metro at stations every 2km. The road system is likewise. It is intended that maximum commuting time to and from the CBD is one hour at most. There is no railway interruption to connectivity.
Extensions of one Metro line from the city boundary at grade to any nearby town is considered according to train frequency and economics. Another line extension connects the CBD to the city airport. If there is a local traditional passenger railway of any gauge, it may be connected to the CBD at the HSR station down the HSR trench to alongside HSR platforms. Metro platforms are on the outer side of traditional rail and HSR platforms to avoid track crossings. A traditional freight rail is brought into the FFR freight yard at grade next to the FFR loop at grade tracks, if appropriate.
The light rail system passes along all 12 inner-CBD streets below the podium to tram platforms for ease of access. The tram network is dendritic. No cars or DEVs are allowed on the one lane roads on each side of the tram tracks. They are reserved for cyclists. Vehicle accidents cannot hold up the tram system. Light rail tracks are planned to reach city boundaries, spreading out as they go. City circle tram tracks are also built. The road system of freeways, highways and local streets is similar. Cyclists follow tram tracks and cycle tracks on Metro dwelling rooves past roof gardens and walkways to stations or CBD.
All Metro tracks, tram tracks and highways are designed, and corridors reserved from the start.
From inner CBD to suburbs
Modes of transport intersect in the inner CBD but are kept separate. City streets continue outwards. Beyond the podium trams and vehicles come together through the outer CBD. There, twelve streets become at grade broad boulevards with nature strips, flower beds, trees and footpaths rather like the parades of elms in Melbourne. Trams and vehicles are on separate sections. After 2km the boulevards divide into separate tramways with single lanes next to them, and into wide vehicle-only highways outwards to the suburban boundaries.
Other underlying public infrastructure
The city is located near the sea where the climate is most amenable and the water supply for 3m is readily available: rainfall is higher than inland, and desalination is cheaper, if needed.
The city water and sewage systems are planned from the start. Water is self-sustaining. Rainwater is collected on rooves and separately piped to storage and purification works. Storm-water is also collected and piped separately to storage and purification works. Water storage is under sports stadiums. Grey water is reused in toilets. Purified rain and storm water is re-reticulated back to buildings and for industrial use. There is a sewage farm on the perimeter of the city or leased outside.
Electricity is planned to be self-sustainable from the start. There are solar panels on all buildings and local and council batteries. Spoil from rail trenches is used to build two small earth walled dams for pumped hydroelectricity. The city is connected to the national electricity grid.
Gas supply is piped into the city from the national grid along HSR tracks and distributed where needed especially for industrial use. Most power is renewable energy.
The city is connected by NBN cable along the interstate HSR tracks between cities in the mega-region. NBN in new cities is connected directly to all new buildings, not to a node. Secure, fast, effective, local, national and international telecommunications are critical for innovation by connecting people everywhere quickly. Smart city technology is installed cheaply from the start.
In addition to innovation in the CBD precinct, there are the research precinct, the medical precinct, the industrial precinct and the conference centre, exhibition building and public library. Convenient location of these are determined as part of the original city planning and Torrens Title layout by the Metropolitan LGA. They are close to the CBD, Metro station and tram and road networks for ease of connection and low impact of congestion. The industry precinct including business parks is adjacent to the express HSR line in the noise insulation area on the fringe of the city. Metro lines branch out to terminate at stations within the industrial precinct of some 20x2km on the same line as the research precinct and CBD. A tram line runs through the industrial precinct connecting the two Metro stations. There is a tram manufacturing plant for the national market in the precinct (of one city).
The research precinct includes the universities, research laboratories, computer centres, and high-tech company offices. It is at the core of the innovative effort. It is closely connected to the industrial zone and medical precinct to aid innovation. The medical precinct includes the main city hospitals and medical research facilities. A mental health hospital is located further out in a peaceful park-like setting.
Art, entertainment and sport
The arts precinct of major and minor galleries, art school, music school, ballet school, concert hall, theatre and opera house are located close to the CBD and public transport. The entertainment precinct is similarly located. It consists of theatres, cinemas, and museums. There is an outdoor stage for concerts and a showground in the outer suburbs on the Metro and maybe an Australian zoo. The sports precinct is close to the CBD at a Metro station. The main sports stadium is at the centre with arenas and swimming pool around it. They are world class to contribute to Australia hosting world sporting events. There are sports teams representing the city in national competitions. A race course is provided for in an outer suburb. Golf courses are located on the perimeter of the city close to Metro lines.
The centre of green space is the botanical garden with access from the CBD and suburbs. The LGA plans public parks, gardens, community gardens, garden allotments, and many green spaces around the city. The landscape accommodates a lake, natural or artificial.
Provision of excellent education is a high priority to attract and retain new settlers and their children. There are council run child minding centres. There are early childhood learning centres. All centres and schools are well located. Schools each have ample school yards and sports grounds, unlike the major cities where land is scarce and expensive, so authorities must resort to high-rise schools. Tafe colleges and universities are designed to provide high quality tertiary education opportunities.
Shops, shopping centres and malls
There are many small shops under the squares. Larger shops are in commercial buildings around the informal square like the multi-story shops on Singapore’s Orchard Road. Small local shops are set-up according to demand. Shops are at all Metro stations. Shopping centres are at many Metro stations. Several large malls are located at main suburban Metro stations around the city.
The central city police station, fire station, ambulance station and SES centre are in the outer CBD area. Local stations are planned to be built as the city grows. A prison is in an out of the way area.
Soft innovation infrastructure
Hard infrastructure has been imagined above. Soft infrastructure is human endeavour and organisation that drives creativity, innovation and productivity improvement. It is particularly guided and stimulated by the innovation ethos. This is of great significance for the city and Australia.
Start-up incubator staff are established, funded and connected to innovation sources in the CBD and the special precincts. Universities and research centres, including CSIRO, hire world leading local and overseas experts in their fields of endeavour to enable institutions in the city to develop further and to cooperate with world leading institutions overseas. University R&D and other R&D centres are well funded to stimulate world class innovation. Many conferences are held. Venture capital is facilitated.
High-tech companies are encouraged to set up offices, R&D facilities and production plants to participate in leading innovation. Australian dominant global niche companies are invited to participate and to mentor other developing Australian global niche players.
Schools, Tafes and universities hire the best staff especially principals and Vice-Chancellors to ensure excellent education is provided.
Federal and State Governments locate offices and services in new cities to participate in innovation and bolster jobs, especially in the early days. Staff can rapidly reach state and Canberra head offices by HSR.
Early on, governments and NGOs set up services to support new settlers, including many immigrants, and also for aboriginals seeking a fresh start in a new city in the country region.
Radio and TV stations are established early to stimulate community interaction in the growing city.
Key new city innovations
All the above can be drawn together as follows: –
There are no suburban business hubs in the new city. Hubs are evidence that large cities are failing to optimise innovation and it is fading. They arise because businesses locate new offices where staff live and are readily available. Staff are reluctant to travel into the CBD because of the problems of lack of public transport, congestion, cost and time of commuting. People working in hubs are not in the big CBD bath of ideas of minds sharing and creating innovations. They are only in isolated, unconnected bathroom basins.
New cities are part of the new east coast mega-region founded to become one of the global leaders of innovation. New cities must be innovative cities to be innovation cities. New cities prevent old cities over-growing and losing their capacity to grow innovation. They work together to expand innovation in the mega-region. Leaders must create an innovation ethos.
All cities in the mega-region must be connected by rapid transport to bring people together readily to explore conventional wisdom, research and share creative ideas for innovation. HSR is the key innovative resource, especially for a corridor mega-region. All cities are connected by air, FFR and road, but HSR is the quickest connection from new CBD to old CBD up to 300km apart within one-hour commuter time.
New cities are built centred around the HSR station in a trench to maximise ease of connection and convenience to promote human interaction and innovation. HSR facilitates new CBD connectivity.
To manage doubling of the population, starting new innovation cities from scratch in the country on HSR instead of growing congested, fading innovation mega-cities with hubs is preferable, more effective and lower cost. People in the innovation city are clustered together and connected conveniently by first class Metro, tram and road transport systems to the CBD for 3m provided for from the beginning. There is minimal congestion. This greatly enhances innovation, liveability and prosperity, not destroy them.
All train tracks and stations in the new city are in covered trenches and crossings. All the trenches are built over with four stories of dwellings. There are high-rise flats in the outer CBD and above stations. Sale of the housing funds all the railway and tramway tracks plus the inner-city squares and podiums.
The inner CBD is provided with five separate levels of public transport access for ease of pedestrian movement: below ground for trains and close connection of HSR, Metro and traditional rail (if any); ground level streets for trams; first story podium streets for road vehicles; second story above podiums for moving pedestrian walkways; and flat rooves for air vehicles. The city’s public transport system is planned, designed, reserved and provided for from the beginning ahead of the rapidly growing city. It is not ad hoc, sub-optimum transport construction that attempts to follows population increase later, or not at all. The transport system gives access to CBD jobs and circles around the city for others. The Metro connects the city and airport from the start. The transport system is designed and built for 3m innovative people from the start. It is expensive, but self-financed and a good investment in innovation. The transport system cannot be expanded easily. More than 3m may congest it and slow innovation.
Social infrastructure is established from the beginning around and under the squares to attract young settlers to the city for a vibrant social life. The entertainment and sports facilities also attract. Dwellings are built above rail tracks providing early, cheap housing, another attraction for first settlers. Sale of cheap housing above tracks pays for infrastructure and results in much lower fares on public transport.
Peoples’ attraction is enhanced by “happy city” design considerations: open spaces, nature, natural light, maximum six story buildings, laneways, and low density.
Excellent education attracts settlers with families. There is enormous every-day job creation to build and administer the rapidly growing city of 3m over a few decades. The city is a magnet for everyday-job workers, high-tech personnel seeking jobs and for entrepreneurs in the rural region.
Smart city technology mainly for sustainability is installed at lower cost in new buildings in the country with first class telecom rather than expensive retro fitting a congested old mega-city.
The whole city is administered by one Metropolitan LGA with budget control.
Architecture should add to city pride and appreciation over the long-term. Innovative yes, but not to detract with fashionably bizarre experiments. Suburban houses with back yards and apartments should meet Australian standards and expectations for size, not become diminishingly small through densification like London. Australia’s spatial liveability should be retained.
Land for the city is bought by the government project or the private HSR consortium project. The HSR project is self-financed by sale of dwelling above inner-city tracks in trenches in the three major cities.
The HSR project pays for HSR and FFR tracks and the new city HSR station. It builds dwellings over its tracks to the station, the sale of which contributes finance for squares and podiums. The Metro Rail project builds tracks and stations. It builds dwellings over its tracks which when sold pay for the low-cost Metro and the tram track networks and low cost of dwellings in the country, say, $34b total cost. (6 tracks x 20km x 800 dwellings/km x $350,000 average dwelling sale price = $34b dwelling sales.) It finances itself. Funds from sale of dwellings over the branch Metro lines (6x10km) is a contingency.
HSR, Metro and trams have low fares because the cost of construction is recovered up front during construction by dwelling sales, not through higher fares over 40 years of operation as with traditional rail.
Metropolitan freeways and highways are paid for by the Federal and State Governments. The low cost public infrastructure is paid for by Federal, State and LGA. Normal fees, rates and land taxes are charged.
DEVs are financed by the private companies owning and operating them for fares.
The HSR and Metro Rail do not destroy property values next to the tracks as do at grade railways. Indeed, they increase property value by building dwellings above tracks a short distance to nearby stations.
When it is first known that a new city will be built, developers and construction companies will gather around to finance and build the public and private city. Establishment of the Metropolitan LGA and planning and design of the transport networks and the Torrens System will tell them it is serious.
Similarly, banks will finance much of development as they normally do in the major cities with mortgage and business finance.
The critical factor for Australia’s future is full-blooded concentration on creativity, innovation and productivity improvement to support ongoing prosperity, liveability and wellbeing long-term.
There are dangers in being held back by a long list of actual and potential dead weights: growing major city congestion; inadequate public transport; demolition of major city houses; loss of spatial liveability; fading innovation of mega-cities; aging of the population (baby boomers retiring, longer life expectancy, low birth rate); obesity, diabetes and widespread drug use that shorten productive lives; growing dementia of the elderly; increasing health costs; high electricity and gas prices; housing unaffordability; ineffective IR system; high wages which reduce Australia’s international competitiveness and increase domestic construction costs; unemployment above average for many years and under-employment growing at a cost to the economy and lost production; high youth unemployment; growing unemployment from the 4th Industrial Revolution’s AI and robotics; increasing cost of the underperforming education and training system; low interest rate, high exchange rate, low wage rate increases, and low inflation rate sapping GDP growth (higher government inflation and much lower private inflation making for low CPI rate); declining prosperity for the lowest half of income earners; austerity of self-funded retirees from receiving lower ROIs and interest rates; potential loss of Australia’s competitive advantage in attracting skilled immigrants to provide the workforce that the education system is failing to produce; over 20% national illiteracy; high welfare costs; high cost of regulation; very costly distortion of interstate freight on the east coast; cost of climate change; unreformed tax system; uncompetitive tax rates; dependence on uncertain capital inflow; lack of understanding by management and workforce of the possibilities of shop-floor and office contribution to productivity improvement and their own job security; high government and personal debt; government deficits needed to support low growth; low private investment; low productivity improvement; and poor federal/state relations.
This is before any new economic crisis occurs or mining export income declines, or a trade war starts.
The negatives outweigh the positives as evidenced by low growth over the last 10 years. It is a different era from the long-term post-war boom in prosperity which probably ended in 2008. There is lack of confidence in government, constant complaint and discord that arises from the decline of previously experienced standards of living and prosperity of many. Probability of a crisis is above average in the new lower growth era, and the consequences are potentially disastrous, so the overall risk now is very high.
The situation must be recognised, and reform undertaken. The dead weights must offset by all-out effort to innovate and improve productivity immediately, the basis for job security, more per capita income and prosperity. Investment in a mega-region must be now while finance is available, not as crisis dries it up.
The means to achieve this is the formation and achievement of a highly productive mega-region, which organises and focuses concentration, cooperation and mutual support to drive creativity, innovation and productivity improvement, the fundamental means of achieving the end. A mega-region is not new. It has been discussed by The Committee for Melbourne and The Committee for Sydney. Indeed, The Committee for Sydney has proposed a mini mega-region around Sydney served by HSR. It would not be as productive as a mutually supportive, critical mass, east coast mega-region including all old and new cities. (A small mega-region may be established around Perth.) Mega-regions would be directed strongly to increasing Australia’s innovation, productivity, GDP growth and international competitiveness. The Chinese are world leaders in this field. President Xi aims to make China a global leader in innovation.
The aim here is to settle a major part of the Australian population increase in coming decades, growing at the rate of about 5m every 10 years, in new cities in the regions. HSR is needed along the coastal corridor mega-region to form the centre of new, modern cities and for rapid connectivity of people in CBDs in new and old cities to support greater innovation. There is no need for mega-cities of +8m. There is a better, lower cost, more productive plan which retains high immigration, high wages and high welfare, without the loss of liveability and prosperity that people fear and makes them call for lower immigration because they do not know there is a better, more viable alternative: a mega-region.
It is unusual to start new cities from scratch and grow them rapidly to 3m outside major cities. Again, China is doing so for innovation purposes. It is also unusual to innovate a new city design that fully pays for its own key transport infrastructure during its construction period as proposed here.
The achievable thrust of new city design is to make it so attractive, rewarding and exciting for new settlers as part of a mega-region that they prefer it to less attractive mega-cities. A successful city of 3m is improbable 300km inland at Albury-Wodonga. It is unlikely to attract people away from Melbourne. Smaller inland cities of maybe 1-200,000 do little to reduce Melbourne’s population increase. Around 80% of Australia’s population is located near the sea for better climate, life-style and jobs, hence the HSR coastal route. Spur lines to Canberra and the Gold Coast are not customer friendly. Stopping HSR trains are more frequent. Exiting Melbourne to the east via Dandenong pays for much of the project by sale of inner-city dwellings above. Exiting north would not yield as much from sales and the project may fail.
New regional cities build on the emerging movement of people relocating in the country from the city and the community’s desire for immigrants to be settled in the country, not in the city.
Expert professional town-planners, architects and engineers will improve on the city imagined here and replicate it or vary it for the six very attractive new cities around Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Greater growth generated by building HSR, new cities and the mega-region now before a crisis would restore fiscal and monetary policy effectiveness and enable budget repair and government debt reduction. This would regain Australia’s resilience to crisis. Without it, many more people will suffer from extended unemployment in crisis generated recession. No doubt, government debt would be increased to pay for the dole, only to reduce resilience even further, prolong the crisis, or make the next one worse.
The capital savings on building new cities in the country that are lower cost than settling the same numbers in existing major cities, around half the cost, should be invested by governments in R&D to fund the innovation ethos and to turbo-charge greater innovation in the Australian mega-region in competition with other leading mega-regions in the world, most of which have static or declining populations and R&D funds. Australia can learn from the Chinese endeavours to develop new mega-regions for its growing city populations from internal immigration and can cooperate in this field.
China intends to create for itself today through innovation the equivalent of the competitive advantage that Britain had over all other countries 150 years ago, derived from its creation of the industrial revolution. England invested huge amounts in railways and housing for a large population increase, which boosted the economy and innovation bloomed. Later, America followed the lead and did the same. Now, China is investing huge amounts in HSR and building housing for its internal immigration. Innovation is booming in its mega-regions and gaining competitive advantage.
President Xi aims to make China a global leader in innovation. It faces a sever shrinkage in population in about 30 years owing to its just reversed ‘one child policy’. There is urgency for China. Australia, with its rapid population increase like China, should emulate it in seeking greater competitive advantage through innovation in a mega-region, without decline in population. (See “The Economist”, 23 June 2018, p28-39.)
Australia should harness its international competitive advantage of dominant global niche companies more able to recover Australian high wages through higher prices in their niche markets. It should grow more of them in other global niche markets to offset its competitive disadvantages with the determined support and cooperation of participants in the mega-region.
The new vision that gives people hope is: “Australia for greater personal job security and income for all”.
A mega-region offers a new, more cooperative, mutually supportive approach to federal/state relations with a common Australian purpose that would bring governments together.
The main issue for Australia’s future now becomes: Can Federal leaders engage with State leaders to take up the opportunity to play for Australia in the highest world league as part of a prosperous mega-region, not just for their own states in less prosperous, competing mega-cities?