Articles on Cities & Policy

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From its earliest days, the influx of outsiders created the distinctive urban character that has driven the development of Shanghai into a modern metropolis. Wenjie, Zhang/flickr

Shanghai, a modern metropolis born of a refugee crisis

From its earliest days as a haven for refugees, Shanghai developed a distinctive character and urban identity that have driven its emergence as one of the world's great metropolises.
By persuading some drivers to travel a different route or at a different time, congestion charges can dramatically improve the flow of traffic. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

How to make cities work better – here’s what the government needs to do

Bigger cities increase wages, output and innovation, but also problems of congestion and pollution. Congestion charges can minimise these problems by dramatically improving traffic flows.
Planting trees can make cities more desirable and safer places to live in. Joe Castro/AAP.

Greening cities makes for safer neighbourhoods

Not only do healthy, well-maintained trees provide shade and benefit the ecosystem, they can have a meaningful social impact: people in newly greened neighbourhoods start to look out for each other.
Uber may open cities from taxi oligopolies, but ultimately it closes them off to the possibility of more meaningful alternatives. Scott L/flickr

How Uber opens cities only to close them

Uber actively encloses what could be a more open city in which riders and drivers work to benefit city residents.
In addition to a shortage of public toilets, current innovations in their design may not be suitable for an ageing population. AAP/City of Sydney

Caught short: we need to talk about public toilets

Millions of people need to be confident that suitable public toilets will be available when they leave their homes. A shortage of such facilities is a serious problem for an ageing population.
Melbourne is powered by the coal-fired stations of Gippsland, which illustrates the problems with any urban strategy that neglects regional roles and interests. AAP/Julian Smith

‘The urban’: a concept under stress in an interconnected world

City-centric thinking arguably obscures connections between 'humans' and 'nature', and 'urban' and 'rural' or 'wild'. Growing evidence of the depths of these links is testing the concept of 'urban'.
Despite Malcolm Turnbull’s enthusiasm for public transport, the Coalition tends to favour road projects over rail. AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2016: will the infrastructure promises meet Australia’s needs?

The Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are making substantial commitments to projects that not only lack proper business cases, but are not even on the Infrastructure Australia priority list at all.
On average, Gen Ys are $50,000 short of the deposit they expect they’ll need to buy their first home. Lolostock from www.shutterstock.com

What’s the key to home ownership for Gen Y?

Without long-term solutions to the imbalance between incomes and house prices, Gen Ys face a lifetime of renting without the financial and emotional security of home ownership.
Housing costs are driving poorer families into areas with fewer and fewer opportunities. Kate Ausburn/flickr

Smart cities wouldn’t let housing costs drive the worse-off into deeper disadvantage

The 2016 articulation of an urban agenda assumes building more highways, railways and trams will produce better, more productive cities that somehow give everyone a job.
A national housing policy is needed that recognises how all the sectors – buying, renting, investing, social housing or homeless – are connected. AAP/Paul Miller

Our cities will stop working without a decent national housing policy

A decent national housing policy is not just about the million or so Australians who are in housing need, marginal housing or homeless. In reality, all the housing sectors are connected.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world despite its ranking as one of the ‘least liveable’. mariusz kluzniak/flickr

Signals from the noise of urban innovation in the world’s ‘second-least-liveable’ city

Bringing significant benefits to an emergent middle class, Dhaka's cultural, economic, environmental and political landscapes are being rapidly but unevenly transformed.
Australians do business with a title office only a couple of times in their lives – when they buy and sell their homes, for instances. AAP/Paul Miller

What are the implications of privatising land title offices?

Privatisation has its advantages. But Australia’s title offices may not necessarily be the right government businesses to be privatised.
Much of the ‘smart cities’ rhetoric is dominated by the economic, with little reference to the natural world and its plight. Ase from www.shutterstock.com

Taking the city’s pulse: we need to link urban vitality back to the planet

The rhetoric of 'smart cities' is dominated by the economic, with little reference to the natural world and its plight. Truly smart and resilient cities need to be more in tune with the planet.
While politicians like Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce do the traditional photo-ops, fewer people than ever are taking on farming, which can no longer support vibrant rural and regional communities on its own. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Election 2016: the issues in non-metropolitan Australia

What are the issues facing rural and regional Australia? The challenges are many and varied – and only some have made the national political agenda – but these areas deserve better than neglect.

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