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Essays | Made in Australia
for the southeast, the southwest and the north of
the country. The southeast is an area stretching
from Brisbane to Melbourne, and the southwest is
essentially the Swan Coastal Plain from Geraldton to
Busselton. If high-speed rail systems were threaded
through these two ‘megaregions’ then people could
spread out into these landscapes but still be well
connected to major cities. In other words, we could
build new settlements in attractive lifestyle settings
but maintain a well-connected economy.
By ‘spread out’ we don’t mean regional sprawl,
we mean new, well-designed, innovative, compact
cities grafted onto existing regional towns.
This provides a vision of the Swan Coastal Plain as
a megaregion accommodating just over 10 million
people, with the east coast megaregion supporting
about 35 million. The rest of the population is then
distributed around the nation more or less as they
are now, except for Darwin where we think there
could be significant population increases. Darwin
is a city we think should be radically developed and
positioned to attract the Asian education market.
But there is more to it than that. The big challenge
is not just where to put extra houses, but also the
infrastructure to sustain 62 million people. Consider
this: an Australia of 62 million would use enough
water to fill 115 Sydney Harbours each year, and
would need 130,000sqkm of highly productive
farmland to feed itself. The total energy required
would require an 11,000sqkm solar installation,
a 136,000sqkm wind farm, or 146 nuclear reactors.
Based on our current standard of living, our
ecological footprint would be 4,851,600sqkm
and we would need to construct a forest of over
680,000sqkm to sequester our carbon emissions.
As the global population stabilises toward the
end of the century, so too might Australia’s.
Our economy by then might also have had
time to transform into a genuinely sustainable,
relatively static system as fossil fuels fade. After
2101, our cities should also demonstrate structural
transformations and innovations embodying a more
sophisticated and symbiotic relationship with the
ecosystems upon which they ultimately depend. By
then, after three centuries of trial and error, we may
have learned to live with this country’s landscape.
Made in Australia will help people form their own
views as to the extent Australia should grow and in
what manner that growth should be distributed.
Made in Australia:
The Future of
by Richard Weller
and Julian Bolleter,
Representations of megaregion cities on
the west coast and (above) in the east.
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