Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A bigger city is a better city

Yesterday in the post box there was another piece of mail from the City of Sydney. I've been getting used to these offerings from that particular quarter. One of them was a broadside aimed squarely at the Westconnex road project, and now this, a geremiad against the proposed state government amalgamation of the council with Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, and Botany Bay. Not hard to guess which way the boffins in George Street want us to decide in this particular stoush involving both Town Hall and Macquarie Street.

The thing is that bigger councils are always going to be better. I wish that people in Sydney - with its overexploited road network and overused rail network - could see how little traffic there is in Brisbane, and how under-utilised their rail system is. Brisbane has the largest municipal council in the southern hemisphere and two things they do have are lots of money and the power to approve large projects - things which all municipal councils in the greater Sydney area notably lack.

Just drive north from Southbank - the entertainment precinct across the river from the Brisbane CBD - over the lovely Go Between Bridge to see what you can do with a few million dollars and the requisite planning power. Or drive further, along the fabulous Airport Link tunnel that takes you all the way from the city to the airport in relative comfort in your own car. Or turn into the Clem7 tunnel that bypasses most of the inner suburban sprawl and delivers you close to the Bruce Highway to the north of the city. Compare those trips with getting across the Harbour Bridge or down Southern Cross Drive, at any hour of the day. And the Brisbane City Council just this year opened Legacy Way linking the west of the city to the Inner City Bypass.

In Sydney this scale of development is only being undertaken by the state government. But is there broad support for anything like this in Sydney? The nimbys will out whenever you try to change things to suit the majority. Ignorant people with their own small, vested interests who are too afraid of competing on a larger stage and who just want things to cruise along the way they always have done - forever. Anyway a bigger City of Sydney makes perfect sense to me. If you want to find out how, go and live in Brisbane for a few years. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

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