Sydney Morning Herald 23.07.2010 – by Malcolm Turnbull
When Australians express concern about overpopulation, the cause is almost invariably the congestion caused by population growth without appropriate infrastructure.
My electorate of Wentworth includes some of the most densely settled suburbs in Sydney yet few residents complain they are suffering from overcrowding. These suburbs in Sydney are keenly sought out, in fact, increasingly by families with children.
Sydney’s inner east, though densely settled, is not generally regarded as “congested” because its residents have access to reasonably reliable and frequent public transport
They are, for the most part, close to where they work and can do much of their shopping on foot. They don’t have big, or any, backyards yet there is plenty of public space within easy reach.
If we are going to increase the density of our city, by putting apartments and townhouses into streets formerly lined with bungalows, we have to build appropriate infrastructure. We have spent billions building new roads and freeways but until relatively recently there was little or no new investment in Sydney’s mass transit.
We complain bitterly about crowded roads but do not provide enough of the only thing that can be relied upon to get people off the roads – efficient and reliable mass transit.
The population question is not to be answered, as Bob Carr sought to do, by saying “Full Up”. The real answer is to ensure migration continues to contribute to the economy and infrastructure enables us to enjoy the benefits of a more densely settled city without congestion.
Density is not the problem. Combines with public transport and open space, it gives great amenity – more of the places we want to go are within easy reach.
Good public transport is critical but has been neglected for too long. It has an important social benefit. Cities dependent on cars discriminate against the old, the poor and the young.
Technology enables us to enjoy virtual proximity to each other but physical proximity – he ability to move around to meet each other, to go to places of public recreation, culture and commerce – is essential to a city and its social equity eg Subi Hotel!
This is an extract of Malcolm Turnbull’s address to the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils’ national population summit.