City Planning & Housing Affordability Woes: The Political Drivers

City Planning & Housing Affordability Woes: The Political Drivers

City Planning & Housing Affordability Woes: The Political Drivers

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Read this ABC news article (5 Nov 2018) – “China is changing our cities — but it’s not as simple as an ‘invasion’ or a ‘takeover’ “. It is an eye opener when the article alerted that:

  • The racialised talk of “Asian invasion” blames Chinese migrants and investors for many local liveability problems.
  • The foundations (root causes) of these problems run deep in Australia’s urban histories and our market-driven approach to city-making.

There’s been an 82 per cent increase in high rise apartments in Melbourne since 2011, with a huge boom in the Docklands. Picture: Jay Town (News.com.au, 23 Oct 2017)

Globalisation has a long history and the phenomenon is connecting people around the world for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and goods, and foreign investments. Individual foreign investments in western countries is not a 21 century geopolitical development. For more than four centuries, foreign investors have always created many cultural and geopolitical issues (Dallas, 2016). Today, its the fear of Asian investments in land and real estate developments, which have developed beyond the governance structures of international migration, international trade and investment. All thanks to governments’ decisions and policies that put individual and government’s economical gains before sovereign security and protecting the sustainability of local liveability and the enviroment.

Image result for Victorian State Planning

Learning from history, it is a no brainer that government agencies and decision makers are the facilitators of foreign investments. Their poor and unsustainable policies and decisions open the flood gates for foreign investors. It is common anecdotal knowledge that most Australian city planning policies, decision making, implementation and even civil and administrative legal tribunals are developers centered. One has to also bear in mind that developers are financed by both local and foreign investors, directly and indirectly. It is politically more appropriate to shift attention to create and hopefully blaming the “Asian invasion” phenomenon in the Australian real estate sector for causing the local liveability and sustainability issues we face today.

Today, dysfunctions in party politics and rivalry have given cause for the Victorian state government to dabble in foreign affairs locally, challenging official national foreign and security policies, for money and economic gains first. Last week, the Victorian Government announced its memorandum of understanding to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making Victoria the first and only Australian state to support President Xi Jinping’s global trade initiative (ABC News, Oct 2018).  As the state election draws near, it is also no surprise the MoU announcement may also be an election strategy to win China-born Chinese Australians votes come 24 November 2018. The geopolitical games played within Australia among political parties, never mind between countries, will bring some forms of backslash to the Chinese Australian community, of many are not from China and are great as collateral damage, because they are assumed to be complaisant and hence are easy targets for social engineering gaming used in political debates and inter-party rivalry shit tossing, also great for news making.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye in Melbourne who are both holding compendiums - picture source ABC News, 26 Oct 2018).

Debate about the impact of the so-called Asian Century on Australian cities must move beyond a discussion driven by political dysfunctions, racial and geopolitical motivations, to querying our state and local governments about their commitments to quality and sustainable city planning policy and decision making. Our governments have to take responsible, effective & immediate actions to fix the systematic mess in Australian city planning, including mitigating money laundering activities (Macrobusiness, 2018) in land developments and real estate transactions, which have contributed to high capital investment value (CIV) and hence council rates. Past to current federal governments promised to look into improving Anti Money Laundering capacity in this sector more than a decade ago and have undertaken 5 public consultations in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2017, but each time shelved the matter.  One wonders why?

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