Poor Sydney, What They’ve Done to You

Poor Sydney, What They’ve Done to You, by Paul Collitis.

Those who favour the “vibrancy” of so-called multiculturalism might well ponder the endless seas of un-mixed faces and non-English dialogue now occupying many of Sydney’s suburbs, and agree with the unfortunate Luke Foley, who made the ultimate political gaffe by telling the truth in noting that white flight is a real thing in Sydney Town and that the genuinely interactive, innovative multicultural relationships that characterised previous waves of immigration have now all but disappeared.

Outside the confines of the city itself, Sydney also faces rampant destruction across its once delightful suburbs. This is the result of what might be termed the “Meritonisation” of the city. Australia’s cities are in the grip of a slightly weird ideological marriage of leftist new urbanism and big-end-of-town developers.

New urbanism seeks “smart”, “compact”, “vibrant” (pick your own adjectival cliché) cities that purport to improve quality of life by reducing travel times and car-related congestion, increase public transport and the expense of private, and link future residential development to strategic public transport nodes — hence all the high rises near railway stations — high rises whose residential values are currently plunging, and yet which continue to blight our suburbs and usher in ever more vertical ghettoes. Not to mention the utterly bizarre love affair — more of a compulsive fetish, actually — that new urbanists have with light rail. …

Those who believe in a “city of cities” with high rises and bought-off-the-plan apartment buildings adorning the major transport interchanges make many assumptions that are not borne out by reality. The three biggest are, (1) that people will give up their cars and will only use public transport if we house them in high rises, (2) that people only ever travel to work, and (3), that public policy can control the location of employment and therefore plan the space economy. The image of a city of “urban villages” remains a myth. …

The current Liberal led NSW Government is, of course, up to its armpits in new urbanism. Where does the development industry come in? Well, they get to build all the high-rises. In this they are helped along the way by the utterly compromised (corrupted?) major political parties which have come to rely on developer donations to swell party coffers and, through industry capture, prop up parliamentary and ministerial careers. Not to mention the help the industry gets from an endless flow of overseas migrants and overseas (read Chinese) investment dollars that have largely driven demand for high-rises. The big end of town genuflects before green-left “sustainability” ideology. The partners in this marriage of convenience are in a symbiotic relationship of considerable mutual benefit.