In November the 2009 State of Australian Cities Conference brought together academics, researchers, planners and many others involved in urban design and management at the University of Western Australia in Perth to discuss the current status and direction of our cities.
After opening addresses by the WA minister for planning and the shadow minister for regional development, over 120 papers were presented across six themes: Economy, Environmental, Governance, Health, Infrastructure and Social. The presentations were diverse and occasionally controversial, but taken together they present a fascinating and detailed snapshot of the shape or cities are in.
My paper was titled: How the west was lost – the causes and consequences of under-investment in Western Sydney’s infrastructure and was, not surprisingly, in the infrastructure stream. It highlighted how unlike other Australian and overseas cities, Sydney had failed to reverse the post-war pattern of under-investment in rail infrastructure to deal with continued population growth, particularly in Western Sydney, whilst making significant expenditure in motorways.
The paper also discussed how factors such as the pattern of development of Sydney’s infrastructure prior to the 1950s, its post-war pattern of growth, the current political and economic environment and continuing resistance in some quarters to investment in public transport had contributed to this situation, as well as the potential consequences for Sydney’s future. A copy of the paper can be downloaded here and other conference papers should be available online shortly.