Articles on Cities & Policy

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Labor wants housing to be a federal election issue, but to solve the problems of recent decades Australian governments need to comprehensively rethink their approach. Julian Smith/AAP

Housing policy reset is overdue, and not only in Australia

The problems with housing systems in Australia and similar countries run deep. Solutions depend on a fundamental rethink of our approach to housing and its central place in our lives and the economy.
Commuters at Epping train station board replacement buses during work on the line for the Sydney Metro, the biggest of all the promised projects. Mick Tsikas/AAP

How the NSW election promises on transport add up

The major parties are promising projects costing tens of billions of dollars, with a surprisingly large overlap between them. Yet only two have been endorsed by infrastructure authorities.
Reduced to a pile of rubble in 2016, the Corkman pub had been a favourite local meeting place since the mid-1880s. Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Once a building is destroyed, can the loss of a place like the Corkman be undone?

The illegal demolition of a historic pub in Melbourne is the subject of a legal bid to order its rebuilding. Although the heritage value of such a move is debatable, there are other justifications.
The ways in which older women maintain meaningful social connections are many and varied – in this case, they do volunteer work for a greyhound adoption service. Joe Castro/AAP

Vital conversations: older women have their say about the challenges of life in a city like Melbourne

What matters to women as they grow older, as the city's population changes and urban development continues apace? You don't know unless you ask them – and they have so much to contribute.
Nearly half of female tertiary students surveyed in Melbourne say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ feel safe on public transport after dark. KN/Shutterstock

Students don’t feel safe on public transport but many have no choice but to use it

As they return to classes, a survey finds nearly half of female tertiary students in Melbourne don't feel safe using public transport at night. And 79% have been sexually harassed or victimised.
Flames spread rapidly up the external wall cladding at the Lacrosse building in Melbourne in November 2014. More than four years on, the combustible panels are still in use. MFB

Lacrosse fire ruling sends shudders through building industry consultants and governments

Architects, certifiers and engineers who work as consultants to builders are on notice about potential liability for the use of flammable cladding, but governments are also culpable for their actions.
A shade tree makes a big difference to the comfort of this couple. Nancie Lee/Shutterstock

How do we save ageing Australians from the heat? Greening our cities is a good start

Two trends in Australia, an ageing population and warming climate, are increasing the threat that heatwaves pose to our health. Increasing vegetation cover is one way every city can reduce the risk.
Current levels of population growth become a problem for Australians when investment in infrastructure like public transport fails to keep up. David Moir/AAP

Solving the ‘population problem’ through policy

Population growth in Australia is a problem mainly because of the lack of a coherent national policy to manage it. The focus needs to be on maintaining quality of life through sustainable growth.
Granny flats are often the result of informal arrangements between parents and children who assume it will all work out well. Markus J/Shutterstock

When granny flats go wrong – perils for parents highlight need for law reform

Parents and children rarely put agreements about granny flats in writing and almost never consult a lawyer. But when these arrangements go wrong, the consequences can be disastrous and costly for all.
Residents of the outer suburbs like the green spaces and sense of community, but lament the lack of access to transport and other services. theskaman306/Shutterstock

Living ‘liveable’: this is what residents have to say about life on the urban fringe

Much of the growth in our cities is in the outer suburbs, now home to around 5 million people. And that creates problems like traffic that detract from the advantages residents see in living there.
The enthusiasm for recycling water that Australians had at the height of the drought little more than a decade ago has waned. Shaney Balcombe/AAP

When water is scarce, we can’t afford to neglect the alternatives to desalination

Cities relied entirely on conserving and recycling water to get through the last big drought. We now have desalination plants, but getting the most out of our water reserves still makes sense.
The largest desalination plant in Australia, Victoria’s A$3.5 billion ‘water factory’ can supply nearly a third of Melbourne’s needs. Nils Versemann/Shutterstock

Cities turn to desalination for water security, but at what cost?

Sydney and Melbourne are bringing desalination plants back on stream and Adelaide plans to increase its plant's output. Perth depends on desalination. But is it the best way to achieve water security?
Residents evacuated from the Neo200 building in Melbourne were unaware of the fire risk posed by its cladding. Ellen Smith/AAP

Don’t overlook residents’ role in apartment building safety

As more and more Australians live and work in high-rise buildings, their responsibilities and roles in ensuring all occupants' safety must not be neglected.

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