Bleats

Your City Isn't Full, It's Just That Australia's A Bit Crap At Doing Them

Welcome in, we're not fulll!

One of the current truisms about Australia’s biggest cities is that they’re full and we need to find ways to reduce the population because there are just too many people in ’em.

It’s an excuse which has been used to justify everything from immigration cuts to massive expressway projects, and it’s taken as a given that our cities are “full”, almost as though each Australian city is a hermit crab with a shell it simply cannot remove.

And look, living in big cities can be crowded and stressful.

And yes, Sydney contains just shy of five million people, depending slightly on what bits you consider “Sydney”, with Melbourne not far behind – making them the the biggest and most crowded cities in the whole wide world!

Sorry, that should read “85th and “90th Biggest And Most Crowded Respectively”.

Among the cities that have more people – and again, it’s worth noting that different sources use different definitions of where said cities begin and end – are such metropoli as New York (over 8 million), London (just under nine million), Mexico City (also just shy of 9 million), Jakarta (10.6 million), Moscow (13.2 million), Tokyo (13.5 million), Istanbul (just over 15 million) and three Chinese cities: Beijing (21.7 million), Shanghai (over 24 million) and Chongqing, which contains more than the entire population of Australia with over thirty million people.

So why can dozens of cities get bigger than Sydney, yet our largest city remains mysteriously at capacity?

The McKinsey Institute in the US has looked at the question of whether or not there are hard limits on how big a city can realistically get and concluded that yes, there is: it’s dependent on the competence of the government.

And that’s it.

If the government wants to make a city work, they plan accordingly – and think long term to do so.

They also look to questions of how to make the economies of scale in things like service provision work (it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to provide services to a huge but centralised population than a more diffuse one spread out over a vast area) while investing in core areas like transport and affordable housing.

Get that balance right and you get London and New York, vibrant places that are economic and population hubs. Screw it up and things go less well.

Also, you get zombies.

And that is a complicated job, not helped by state governments that proudly trumpet how they’re letting, for example, the construction industry operate without much regulation, and then act admit that hasn’t worked when said companies create buildings that become uninhabitable.

So next time you hear a politician talk about how a place is “full”, remember that they’re actually making excuses for not doing their job.

You Can Buy A Home For $11K In A Little Aussie Town, But How Comfy Are You With Murder?

Look, at least the neighbours are probably pretty quiet?

Property in Australia is both an Australian obsession and a national nightmare, with the dream of home ownership being little more than that for entire generations of Australians facing wage stagnation and the gig economy.

However, there is a place where someone with a pocketful of dreams and a few thousand bucks can start that dizzying ride that is owning property. Heck, a laundromat just went for eleven thousand dollars and even the largest homes are going for under a hundred K!

There is one teeny tiny little problem though.

it’s a fixer-upper!

Said properties are in Snowtown. Yes, that Snowtown.

Snowtown is known for two things: the 1999 Bodies in the Barrels murders, and the 2011 movie about the Bodies in the Barrel murders.

The details… look, they’re not great. You can look them up if you want.

That said, the murders are not the reason local property prices are so crazy low, though.

For one thing, they happened 20 years ago and, if anything, would be a bit of a draw. Indeed, the bank vault in which said bodies were entombed was successfully sold to a couple who’ve reportedly turned it into a nice if presumably very haunted home.

The issue is that Snowtown is a long way from the nearest big city, Adelaide – 145 km, to be specific – which makes it an unattractive commute for most workers.

Still, if you have the cash and don’t mind a long, flat drive to the nearest everything, dreams CAN come true!

The Minister For Housing Wants To Give Homelessness A 'Positive Spin' So Start Peddling, Mate

Let's rebrand it "agile accomodation"!

You know, in this febrile political environment, it’s so easy to focus on the negative.

And Luke Howarth, your federal Assistant Housing Minister and newly announced Minister for Homelessness, thinks that all you people are making a huge song and dance about Australia’s recent jump in the number of people living in unsafe and insecure accommodation and not focussing on all the people who aren’t sleeping rough, for which he seems to think he’s getting inadequate credit.

“We have 99.5% of our Australians… homed and living in safe place,” he pointed out on Radio National.

“There’s half a per cent of the population that isn’t… I want to put a positive spin on it as well and not just say Australia’s in a housing crisis when it affects a very, very small percentage of the population.”

Sure, it’s not what everyone in the homelessness sector thinks, or what Lords Mayor around the country are saying with regard the increase in people sleeping rough in our cities.

Indeed, Australia has a 14 per cent increase in homelessness between the 2011 and 2016 census, but Howarth has explained that this is apparently “in line with population growth”.

And that makes sense because… wait, what?

If that’s the case, and the population is growing 14 per cent faster than they can be accommodated in the space of five years, isn’t that the literal definition of a housing crisis?

You know, the sort of thing that would unambiguously be the responsibility of the Minister For Homelessness?

Anyway, all those mayors and academics and homelessness workers are just being negative nellies.

Not like Luke Howarth, Positive Spin Doctor.

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