Standing up for cities

Melbourne from the Yarra

My latest column for The CEO Magazine extends my updated Troppo post on decentralisation. As I dug further into the issue for this column, I was startled by the extent to which governments have not just paid lip-service to decentralisation, but have made it policy and started to direct additional resources towards pushing people out of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

Many types of decentralisation seem to me to be bad policy. But even if they turn out not to be, it would be useful to know why we’re doing this.

Thanks to Nick Gruen for pointing me to the developing screw-up that is APVMA’s move from Canberra to Armidale.

About David Walker

David Walker runs publishing consultancy Shorewalker DMS ( and is an editor and writer for hire. David has previously edited Acuity magazine and the award-winning INTHEBLACK business magazine, been chief operating officer of online publisher WorkDay Media, held policy and communications roles at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the Business Council of Australia and run the website for online finance start-up eChoice. He has written on economics, business and public policy from Melbourne, Adelaide and the Canberra Press Gallery.
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7 Responses to Standing up for cities

  1. paul frijters says:

    one key reason I know of is that you can make more rents as a corrupt political in-crowd if you re-zone land in places that are unsuitable for urban development and then use public money to build infrastructure towards it. Precisely because it is unexpected, the price hike is larger than if you build in the logical places for urban development, ie existing transport corridors. Just take a look where Queensland expanded to with its ULDA….

  2. Ken Parish says:

    Alan “The Urbanist” Davies has written quite a bit on this topic, and has more or less the same perspective as you e.g.

    • David Walker says:

      Yep, think of me as a far less smart, far less educated and far less practically experienced Alan Davies. Then go and read all his posts.

      With apologies to you and Nick, Alan is to blogging what Geoffrey Rush is to acting – that is, Melbourne’s top-ten global entrant.

  3. Nicholas Gruen says:

    File in folder “Bullshit”, sub-folder “Meme driven policy”

    Along with so much, much more and including cashless welfare cards.

  4. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Also file under Mark Twain quote. “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so!”

  5. David Walker says:

    Hi Nick. Just clarifying … are we filing my column under “bullshit”, or are we filing the idea of decentralisation there?

    (Meanwhile, debunking “what you know for sure that just ain’t so!” is pretty much my favorite journalistic niche.)

  6. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Well not the idea of decentralisation per se which I’m trying, probably too hard, to keep an open mind on, but the examples of it like Barnaby’s hijinks. Sounds perfectly sensible, until you think about it, when you start to wonder, and then when you learn more when it falls apart.

    Similar story in another area where ‘mandatory sentencing’ often sounds sensible when described – but also falls apart when you start investigating the details.

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