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By Simon Kuestenmacher

Let’s play a game and re-imagine Australia

What would you do if you were tasked with spreading the 26.5 million people in Australia across the continent?

In how many cities would you place them?

How many regional settlements would you build?

Where would you build wheat towns, where would you build cotton towns, and where would the dairy towns be?

What kind of harbours would you build across Australia?

If you just imagine this, it's quite a difficult challenge, there are so many different routes you could have taken.

Let’s play a game and re-imagine Australia

And how many routes would have taken you to Australia that we are living in today, where two-thirds of our population clusters in just 5 cities?

This is the highest concentration of population in only 5 cities across the whole world, so we are super centralised.

Is this the smart move or not?

If you imagine yourself tasked with spreading the people across the country, maybe you would come up with a different solution.

And if you imagine yourself back in 2010 standing in the CBD of Melbourne, and I was to tell you then that over the next 10 years, you will have to ensure to find a home for every single person from Adelaide to move into Melbourne, what would you have done?

That is exactly the population growth in Melbourne that occurred over the last decade — one Adelaide was thrown into Melbourne.


Did we provide the right infrastructure to allow for this kind of growth?

What this game is meant to do is to encourage you to think in a proactive way: where should we put our next millions of people of population growth?

Over the next forty years, we'll add 30 million people to Australia.


Where should we put all these people?

Should we just continue to centralise our population growth or should we decentralise it so we don't just add more people to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, or Perth?

Maybe we should spread it out a little bit more to regional centres?

If this is our approach, what kind of infrastructure is needed?

We need massive infrastructure investment, of course, in order to ensure that population growth isn't harmful to Australia; and that we can actually provide better cities by adding people.

There's no reason that adding another 1.3 million people to Melbourne's population over the last decade was actually any of a problem if we had built infrastructure at the same rate.

That is the main issue that we are facing.

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Tips: I'm trying to encourage you to not fall into the trap of complaining about population growth.

You are, of course, free to do so, but any kind of plausible scenario that I've ever seen about Australia will see us add around 300,000 to 400,000 new people per year.

If you actually accept this reality and you want to make Australia a better place; don't take a cheap and easy way out by just complaining how horrible this is.

Instead, think about how we need to reshape Australia.

Of course, it's the same if you look at climate change...

Sure it's easy to say, "Ah, we should make all those big macro-changes in order to keep climate change away".

Climate change will be happening, we need to adjust to it.

We need to re-think what kind of small settlements are worth keeping up; how should we build out suburbia — lots of suburbia, Western Sydney is way too hot, for example!

We don't add nearly enough street trees to make sure that they cool vast concrete stretches of Western Sydney in summer.

We don't do this, and this is a big neglect on our end, we must be responsible by thinking ahead and being proactive and making our future Australia a better place.

About Simon Kuestenmacher Simon Kuestenmacher is one of Australia’s leading demographers, co-founder of The Demographics Group, a regular media commentator, a columnist for the Australian and one of the world’s Top 50 Influencers in Data Science.

Hi, This is really interesting. Not only about infrastructure to cities/towns etc but where climate change will impact us the most (or not). Also we need to consider the infrastructure of not having to travel into cities for work. Yes this has be ...Read full version

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I would love to see us build the Bradfield scheme as a starter, (and then potentially other similar schemes to open up and harness all the water, space and potential that Australia has. It would increase the amount of useable water that we have, mass ...Read full version

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Beware the 15/20 minute cities. Government entrapment - prison population. You’ll own nothing and like it -klaus schwab of the World economic forum.

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