We love a big Australia — but not so fast

We love a big Australia — but not so fast, by Henry Ergas.

It is true that Melbourne, with just half London’s population, covers six times London’s area, as Shaping a Nation, the research paper on migration released earlier this week by the Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs, claims. But it hardly follows that Melbourne should, or sensibly could, aim to achieve London’s population density. …

The urban fabric is extraordinarily durable, as is the housing stock: that is why there is so much truth in Winston Churchill’s dictum that “we shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us”.

In democracies — which cannot adopt China’s approach of simply bulldozing millions of homes to build high rises and ­superhighways — modifying the structure of urban areas is the work of many decades.