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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Costa, urban planning « Previous | |Next »
October 24, 2008

The op-eds in The Australian by Michael Costa, the former Treasurer of NSW, give us an insight into the mentality of the Right of the NSW Labor Party - (currently headed by Obeid, Tripodi, Rozendaal) that now run the clapped out administration called the NSW Government.

Costa's latest on public infrastructure adopts the stance, and frame of, neo-liberal economics to have a go at those who advocate a shift to a more sustainable economy in our public culture. Costa says:

The growth of the "sustainability industry" is closely correlated with the emergence of green politics, particularly the anthropomorphic global warming religion of which Carr is attempting to become Australia's high priest...There is a tendency among the more extreme public transport ideologues to adopt a "Field of Dreams" approach to public infrastructure projects: build it and they will come. It is also true that many of these people are urban planners. The availability of appropriate public transport in dense urban environments is a logistical necessity.

These urban planners aim to to shape the urban environment around their personal green worldview that is ideologically based.

spoonerIndustry.jpg Spooner

Costa rightly says that the real debate is about what type of public transport, where it should be provided and at what price. Who could disagree other than add that the investment ought to foster the shift to a more sustainable mode of urban life.

Then he says that;

most urban planners have an elitist disdain for market-based land use outcomes. They are particularly hostile to the lifestyle preferences of Rudd's "working families", witness their hostility to the McMansion.

Maybe the urban planners are critical of McMansion style suburbia because that urban mode of life is not sustainable in terms of energy and transport in the context of climate change?

That is not good enough for Costa. Such an approach to urban planning and public transport provision for him is ideologically based as the urban planners views on global warming influence their urban planning approach. He illustrates this with reference to Peter Newman, a former NSW Carr government-appointed sustainability commissioner, and present board member of Infrastructure Australia. It is the scepticism about climate change ("the science is not in") that underpins Costa's antagonism to sustainability, public transport, urban planning, and urban planning elites advocating so-called urban villages.

Costa, no doubt, would see this negative stance as continuing his campaign to challenge Labor shibboleths after another begun with removal of tariffs, the deregulation of the economy, ditching centralised wage fixing and the embrace international competitiveness. He has little time for environmental concerns, talks in terms of the environmental McCarthyism of the Greens and public transport ideologues, and made his last stand as Treasurer on energy deregulation.

Costa, apparently is not an ideologue, despite his neo-liberalism and his view that it is not only 'elitists' that are pushing for more public transport.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:47 AM | | Comments (13)


I have a doomsday scenario for such low density cities such in Australia.

Current modes of transprt are unsustainable yet to build a better form of public transport will bankrupt the state and will ALWAYS drain the public purse to an intolerable level.

It will not be a pretty place (to paraphrase Joh Bjelke!!).

Just another Labor politician angling for a corporate pay check. It's highly illustrative how many of these people are former authoritarian socialists.

that is where Rudd comes in with his building Australia through infrastructure investment. Rudd saves the day and all is well.

yes, you can sense both the same dogmatic mindset (the axioms of his economics are cast in stone) and the political authoritarianism. Costa is no friend of democracy that is for sure. Democracy= populism = economic irrationalism.

It's kind of sad, but Savvas is right I think. Especially if our population keeps growing. High density is about the only realistic way for us to go.

We'd be vastly better off if all idealogues, from all sides, went away and never came back.

higher density is not a problem if it is done well. Not everyone wants to live in suburbia. However, Rudd needs to invest in public transport.

We need build hubs of high rise shops etc around the larger stations of the big cities so that people can shop easily and walk to public transport.

The days of forever extending suburbia based on the car are coming to an end.

How long as the info been in on things like environment, public transport etc, etc??
You said it, Gary- the Mac Mansions are utterly unsustainable- Costa MUST know this- as are the four wheel drives and other toys of morons like him, who are in hock up to the eyeballs and having to sell their souls just to keep up on the interest payments.
For the likes of these do billions already live pitiful lives and the rate of impoverishment will increase exponentially because of the lack of guts in decison-making shown over the last couple of generations by selfish, corrupt blackshirt scum.
Meanwhile, $trillions are turned over to hedge funds and banks; a big version of the same lurk the cretins who buy up water licenses in the hope of subsidies, tax breaks and buy backs later, pursue. I remember reading a while back that it would only have taken $50-$100 billion to provide the billion people on earth without access to drinking water, with that essential.
Can you imagine the productive boost, let alone quality of life improvement that could have happened instead of paying half a $billion to just one the Wall St louts who robbed pension funds to Casino that away, before extorting the $trillions just handed over on schedule, to stop the system collapsing by covering the $billions shifted offshore?

"We need build hubs of high rise shops etc around the larger stations of the big cities so that people can shop easily and walk to public transport."

"Killing urban sprawl is also a water issue"

High rise buildings are not at all water efficient. Tons and tons of water sits around in pipes just in case someone in the penthouse wants to turn on a tap.

I don't see why our cities have to be as centralised as they are. People have to travel from outer suburbs to city centres to work, and we just accept that that's inevitable. But is it necessary? We are supposedly a networked information society, but our built environment still follows the industrial model.

the hub model is decentralized--it breaks with the industrial model of outer suburbs feeding into the CBD.

A city now becaomes a series of decentralized hubs with CBD just one of the hubs.

Yes, I know. Thinking about it, even if you went for medium instead of high rise water would still be a problem. You'd still have acres of pipes full of water sitting around doing nothing and running away from unrepaired leaks. The hubs would have to be as self-sufficient as possible.

the water can be recycled and used for parks etc whilst the storm water runoff trappped and stored.

Hubs or Centred, we still have to get people out of the car fetish. Trouble is, too many places beleive their survival depends on the use and manufacture of them, to the exclusion of all alternatives.
It's like packing in smokes. There is "life after...", except at first there is an adjustment process.
"No gain without pain", but surprisingly little over the long haul one eventually discovers to one's releif, compared to benefits for consideration of the originally unthinkable.