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(generated from captions) # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi, welcome to Big Ideas, Today - how crowded will it get with seven billion others? now we're sharing the world was formed around the myth The Australian psyche of the wide brown land. like if we're packed like sardines? So, what might life look and feel now around seven billion, Well,the world's population at the Asian mega-city experience? can Australia learn from As the population debate gets mental the soul, in urban sprawl. it seems we're search of a population debate Radio National convened Bernard Salt, where pro-growth demographer, Helen Killmier and Sein-Way Tan took on others like Kim Dovey, and limits. who argues sustainability Natasha Mitchell. The lively event was hosted by and so, Look, you're all city dwellers, what you love I'd love to get your sense of a city dweller. Kim? about being an urban dweller, the planet becoming more urban, Look, I think this story about is a good story. becoming more than half urban, the way in which we solve I think that this is going to be the planet - many of the major problems of the two big ones, the looming ones - and climate change. are global poverty to live in cities, I think that learning how

sustainably, more effectively learning how to live more at higher densities in cities of this century. is going to be the big success story about cities. So, I'm actually very positive

I think urban living is fantastic. And what's most fantastic about it is engines of change. that cities are the great that bump us into each other They're the spatial machines, almost, and new kinds of people and into new ideas

more effective ways of living. and new ways of living, an out-and-out optimist in this way, So, I'm not usually seen as of the planet is a good news story. but I do think that this urbanisation And if there is anyone out there, population growth, who's worried about great antidotes to over-population. the move to cities is one of the Wow. In a strange way. talk about there. We'll have good things to Helen, what about you? living in the city Well, I enjoy many of the aspects of in a similar way to Kim, an exciting place to live. in that I find that the city is ideas and creativity, It's a place where there are there's always something going on.

and they're changing rapidly, I think our cities are changing in the here and now, perhaps more rapidly than they have in the past. I did what a lot of people do - And, for me personally, a suburban environment, I left home, I lived in I rented for many years - I moved all over the place, purchasing a home but when it came to as close to where I used to live, I basically purchased something as possible. because when I was young, Which I found quite interesting, get away from there all I wanted to do was that community. and feel free from the bounds of When I decided to purchase, return to a community I felt like I wanted to where I had a sense of my own place. What was pulling you back? the known versus the unknown - History, memory, unknown places during the interim - and I'd certainly lived in lots of something for me but I also purchased

that I've transformed for myself that had a very large backyard into, I guess, a place of reflection, in addition to the location. and that was what I was looking for OK, interesting. You're very much an urban dweller. Bernard, how about you? a little bit. Just bring that mic forward Yes, I am an urban dweller country town in Victoria, but I was raised in a small I think, of rural life. so I have a good appreciation, cities offer opportunity. But for me personally, I think that for example, is a global city. Melbourne at four million, a global city. Sydney at four million is attached to those cities are global, And the opportunities that are can take you anywhere in the world you can work for a corporation that if you live in Sydney. if you live in Melbourne,

attractive proposition And I think that's an enormously particularly to young people today. the demographics of Australia, If you look at generation or so - over, say, the last would remain in the country town whereas in the 1960s young people Victoria, and work on the farm that I was born in, in country

or work in a shop or whatever - today you can see the demographics. Clearly an outflow of young people out of there, into the cities from 18 through to 24, and training. for job opportunities, education And the frisson, if you like, people clustered together - that you get from four million things work better sure we can make these there is more opportunity. but there is an argument that Richard Florida I think the American academic put his finger on this 10 years ago, The Rise of the Creative Class, with his book, there was greater opportunity, which argued that because of density associated with communities. greater creativity

was being held in Byron Bay, I suspect though, that if this forum a very different view. there would be differentiate Now, I think we need to and rural and remote Australia. between a metropolitan area There's another type of Australia of the coast which is the lifestyle areas and tree change areas which are really almost extensions and values. of capital city thinking The Big Shift, And that's what you documented in the coastal areas. the big move of baby boomers to an extension of the city, That's right, I actually see that as that you see in Byron Bay the sort of people or the Mornington Peninsular, or up the coast, Bellarine Peninsular

or the Central Coast in NSW, down the coast outside Queensland with big city values. are really big city people those people, But you don't see those values, west of the Great Divide. those demographics, if you like,

If you look at the demographics of what you would say is we cannot stand the remote areas of Australia. If you look at the demographics of what you would say is we cannot We're leaving those areas and to the extent that we're now flying in and flying out. We want to live in the cities. And, there is now a weekly flight from Karratha to Melbourne for miners. We don't want to live in Karratha, we'd much rather live in Melbourne. That's what the demographics are actually saying at the moment. So that pull is there? It's very much there at the moment, very much there for this generation. Sein-Way, what about yourself? You've actually visited hundreds of cities around the world,

you live in Sydney, what draws you to the city, personally? I think the city answers a lot of questions and a lot of issues that we have. Urbanisation actually, what... Kim is right actually. It answers a lot of issues we face at the moment. Whether we like it or not, the world is becoming urbanised. Let's not forget... I mean, in 1987 the world's population was five billion, at the end of this month it will be seven billion, there's an increase of two billion people in the space of a short time. What we've got to focus on is basically - how can we address all these issues? So, what we want to do is focus on creating greener, more healthy, living environments so that everyone can actually live more comfortably. Hm. Interesting. Helen, we have a tendency to pathologise cities, don't we? They are the reason for so many ills and certainly, if we look at our mental health and wellbeing levels of anxiety, levels of depression, of schizophrenia, of a whole range of different mental afflictions are actually much higher in the cities - why is that? We have sung the praises of cities

but there are some pathologies associated with cities as well, and in high density living. In part, that people need to have a choice. and many people don't have choice about where they're able to live and what they're able to afford. And so what I found that often people living in public housing, in particular high-rise public housing, as you mentioned earlier, people there are often very isolated and they're living in a very high density situation. But it's a situation that can come with a number of social issues attached to it around fear, whether it's perception or reality, incivilities, use of substances et cetera, that creates a tension for those people living in those environments where they feel often very attached to their own home, their own flat, where they have some influence and some control and they feel very attached to the amenities which surround their communities - such as hospitals, places to shop, libraries, et cetera. But the space in between, is a space where many people consider that they aren't safe.

And so, the navigation through that space can lead to some trauma for some people and lead to severe isolation about them shutting themselves away from that in order to feel safe and secure. It's one of the great ironies, isn't it, that we can feel profoundly lonely in a crowd? So, high density living isn't going to necessarily make us feel like we've got company. No. It doesn't. It doesn't. I actually asked people living in high-rise public housing - I was interested in where they felt their neighbours were. I expected, I guess, for people to say - 'Oh, you know that this floor, my neighbours are here' but people actually said my neighbours are 'those people, those people and those people.' They're the people that have a direct influence. I actually argue that the concept that neighbourhood has shifted. If you go back a generation, people used to hang over the back fence and chat with the neighbour. Whereas today, I think, you are much more likely to hang over the office partition and chat with your neighbour. You're getting the sort of relationship that you used to get from your neighbour, you're getting that from your workmate. And so this leads to my argument that the neighbourhood is not necessarily a geography out in the burbs, it's more of a virtual space, that I mix with my workmates. I'll go to shops, er, restaurants or whatever with my workmates - that is the new neighbourhood, not necessarily the suburb. It's almost like a 20th century notion the concept of the neighbourhood.

Over the back fence. Over the back fence, yeah. Or we have virtual neighbourhoods, don't we? We do. Virtual neighbourhoods and virtual groups of friends, tribes.

All of that all have now been recast, I think, in the 21st century. Kim, I was struck in some of your writing - the term 'urban' actually comes from Latin for, is it 'urbanus'? Which actually means 'courteous and polite.' And I thought, many urban contexts are far from courteous and polite they're actually quite rude and horrendous. The urban condition is one where we have to develop codes of conduct where we respect difference, where we encounter, continuously encounter people who have different views to us, people we may not agree with, who may be our neighbours, but may not be our friends - that's the urban condition. And so, we develop codes of courtesy, of conduct, which are civilised. And that's the part of what cities do, I think. I just wanted to come back to one of these points too about crowding and the capacity to be isolated. It is an irony, that you can be isolated in the highest density environments. Crowding is one of those strange two sided terms, I mean we've got a pretty good crowd here tonight, but when you say a 'good' crowd, that stands in contrast, I'm sorry, to what you might regard as feeling crowded. I don't think anyone here tonight feels crowded - you call this a good crowd because it's full, and so on. It may well be that when the event finishes and everyone wants to squeeze out through the one door, they're going to feel crowded. So this thing about density is very, very psychological and very time dependent as well as spatially dependent. You can have a really good crowd,

you can have 100 people in your house and you call it a good crowd. If you had to live there, you might call it crowded. So, what we call crowding

and the kind of stress and the negative effects of that often have to do with internal conditions, with the overcrowding of internal space, and in my understanding, there's no real evidence, at all, of overcrowding in public space having any deleterious effect, whatever. That's really interesting. because this seems to me to be very much a state-of-mind thing. Sein-Way, you spend a lot of time in the mega-cities of the world,

where crowding is overwhelming for those of us who live in the burbs. Is it a state of mind? Absolutely, absolutely. You know, some countries If you have more sense of control over what you are doing generally you feel happier and if you have less sense of control whether you live out in the suburbs, or wherever, you actually feel less happy. What sort of control though? Let's take one of those massive, crowded megapolises that you spend time in.

Yes. Can people have a sense of control? How do they institute that sense of control? Yes and no, I suppose. Quite a few things we can't control, obviously. A lot of people living, for example, in big cities like Shanghai and so forth where the quality of air, the quality of water, is something you can't control but in terms of who you associate with, where you go, certainly you can control that. Interesting.

Bernard, you think that inner-city living will never quite do it for Australians the way nature strips do. No, that's right. I've got a soft spot for the burbs. I think Australian cities can be improved, but this idea that we're all going to dense up and live in high-rise apartments - no doubt certainly some people will but we have a cultural attachment to suburbia, and no place more so than Melbourne. We in Melbourne invented the quarter-acre block and the three-bedroom brick veneer and we're very proud of it. Barry Humphries came and celebrated suburbia. It's the first real Australian iconography, if you like, coming out of Melbourne suburbia. 'Neighbours' is an invention of Melbourne, filmed in Pin Oak Crescent, south Vermont,

projected Melbourne suburbia to the world for 30 years, showcasing our lifestyle. And of course it had incredible resonance in the UK.

And then, Kath and Kim, a recent incarnation, if you like, of exactly the same thing celebrating suburbia.

But these people, Bernard, they're lampooning suburbia.

Humphries, Humphries - Well, are they lampooning or celebrating? I don't think it's actually mean. I don't think it's a negative - Humphries comes back to defend Melbourne because he needs it in order to continue his career. Well, he's been incredibly successful. I think - yes, there is a little edge to it but I think that's the nature of humour. But I also think it's a celebration. I mean Melburnians wouldn't accept it. But that doesn't mean it's a sustainable way of living in cities. Sorry? It doesn't mean it's sustainable. If the suburbs can't sustain frequent public transport... That's a different argument. ..then they don't have a future. I don't disagree with that. We're talking about the cultural affinity that Melburnians and Australians feel for suburbia. But that's going to change. My point is that it's so strong, it's been there for 50, 60, probably 100 years or so, it's not going to change easily. I agree that it needs to change

but it's like turning a super tanker. Don't expect it to turn quickly. It might take 20 or 30 years to get the level of density that you're actually pursuing. When you contrast it with high-rise, I think you drop into the kind of polarisation that's done so much damage to the debate in Australia. The best forms of high density are not high-rise, and this notion that if you abandon the suburbs then we're all going to live in high-rise is complete nonsense. All of the best urban design schemes for higher density living are not simply high-rise towers dotting the landscape, they tend to be medium density, they use different housing types and indeed many of the ones that have hardly been tried in Melbourne are between about five and eight storeys high. They are the kind of housing we simply don't build here because the industry is not geared for it. I don't have a problem with that and I think that is certainly the way that Melbourne and Sydney and other cities will evolve - that is the densification particularly of transportation corridors, railway stations and so forth, three, five, seven or eight storeys out in the burbs but it's that broad swathe of suburbia that fits in between those corridors that I think hold a culture, a value, if you like, that goes to the heart of Australian values, that you can't - it's going to be difficult to change. What does that mean, Bernard,

'Goes to the heart of Australian values'? Values change with generations. Well, they do, but why are we growing places like on the edge of Melbourne, this idea of McMansions if you like? On the one hand we say, 'Yes, we need sensible four-, five-, six-, seven-storey developments or high-rise and yet there is a mass market out there that still wants that. It's almost like this conflict.

You've got two tribes in our capital cities. That's about affordability as well though. It's affordability and also preference. How do you know the market wants that if that's all that the market is ever force fed? Well, look, if the market - The building industry doesn't provide anything else. The developers sit in the minister's office. They say let's extend the growth boundary again. We'll have lots of cheap agricultural land out on the urban fringe and we'll just go through another round of exactly the same thing and then everyone says, 'Well, that's what the market wants.' But if the market wanted that then profit-driven developers would deliver that. It's as simple as that. Why would they not pursue the path of least resistance to most profit? If that's what the majority want then - My point is I would love to see that. I'm very happy to see that. But there is still this resonance, if you like, of suburbia that strikes a chord with middle metropolitan Australia. Is that not the great Australian dream? It has been the great Australian dream, and it needs to change and it has changed dramatically. What is the - I mean... think that urban densification has become something of a doctrine. Just briefly, why? I'm not against densification at all.

In fact, Kim and I were talking in the green room previously.

I'm very supportive of that. I'm a supporter of a diversity of housing across capital cities and I think most modern town planning thinking is that there should be a diversity of housing options - low density, medium density, high density. And it's a question of how you can deliver all of those combinations, if you like, in our capital cities. So you have densification within a 10km, 15km radius, you have densification along transportation railway corridors but you also have sensibly planned, master planned, transportation infrastructure delivered low-density suburban areas as well to meet the demand as required by some Australians. Sein-Way, is this a rather indulgent conversation that we're having here as Australians with all this space to indulge ourselves in? In the countries that you're working in and consulting to space is not even a luxury they can even contemplate. Yes, in some countries, you're right. We represent, for example, 0.3% of the world's population. In some countries, like China and India they've got to absorb another - for example China - China's going to have to absorb another 350 million to maybe half a billion people in the next 20-25 years. They have already absorbed about 300 million people coming to their urban areas. So that calls for a lot more urbanisation, a lot more use of resources, obviously, and in terms of environmental pollution and all these other issues we are faced with. So what we're trying to do is obviously - we realise it's happening, whether we like it or not it's happening. What we are trying to do is try to make it a friendlier process by providing cost-effective solutions. You know, what we do is very simple. We find the best experts we can find around the world and introduce them to government authorities who are looking for these solutions. So you're working with governments of some of those countries like China to work out, OK, if you're going to have all these people, if we are going to densify and build new cities

as China is right across the country. It's extraordinary to see some of those new countries rising up from the ground actually. I've been there briefly and I was staggered by it. And it's happening, yes. But how do you approach the conversation with them? Is it even possible to have a sustainable approach to building cities that are rising up so fast? Yes and no.

Yes, you are going to cause environmental damage if you are urbanising - like building cities - you are going to cause quite a bit of damage. But you can actually do it in a friendlier way and a less damaging way. So that's what we are trying to do, providing solutions and showing better ways of doing things. So around waste water, around -

In terms of master planning, for example, a friendlier way, a better way of master planning cities, in terms of introducing them to different engineering solutions in terms of recycling, in terms of waste water management and things like that. Helen Killmier, Sein-Way has just talked about 'friendly' places and more friendly processes and you're interested - as you are, Kim - in what makes a 'space' a 'place'.

Now what's the distinction you're getting at there, and why is it so important in this conversation about rapid population growth? It's been said that 'place' is 'space' filled up by people's, I guess, emotional investment, by the bonds that people form. That a space is a space until such time as somebody invests within that space and then it can become a place. My interest is in place attachment

and how people form affective bonds with their communities, their homes and whether or not there is any overlap with a constructive sense of community. And the literature is quite divided about both constructs at the moment in terms of whether sense of community and place attachment sit side by side, have overlap, or are separate constructs. So they're very difficult to measure. I can tell you're doing a PhD. 'Constructs.' What does it mean to be attached to a place, do you think, and why is it important to our wellbeing, our sense of wellbeing? What I found with people who have a high attachment to place, is that it tends to be - it's about their emotional investment in the place. And so that place for them is frequently filled with memories. Memories of children leaving - One woman said to me, 'This is where my daughter left for her wedding.' This place is full, for me, of memories and history and good times and bad times but this is where I've lived out my life. This was a woman who was actually living on the 18th floor of a high-rise public housing building, and I said to her, 'What is it like living up here?' And she said 'Oh, this isn't my home.' And I said, 'Oh, I'm sorry, where is your home?' She said, 'I am down on the fifth floor.' So for me it was about saying, 'Does that make a difference?' and for her it was saying, 'Well, the fifth floor is my home and the 18th floor is where I've been temporarily relocated while they are renovating it.' So place is a particularly important construct for people and is very tied up with their emotional affect in the way that they feel about the place. Many places also have a negative connotation and people can feel attached to a place that for them may have a negative feeling. It could be that people still visit the graves of people who are passed on, and that may not be a pleasant memory, but there's a strong attachment to the place

where that event took place, where that person is located. So there's a shadow side to place attachment. People still go and visit the Holocaust, the sites of the Holocaust and Auschwitz et cetera and those places have no good memories for people and yet they're a place where many people feel a very strong attachment. Which is interesting. If we think about new urban developments rising up from the dust in Australia to accommodate a growing population in urban centres, this question of just being able to kind of land community in a place. So you're doing - part of your PhD is involved in the Docklands in Victoria which is emblematic of a lot of similar developments

around Australia, Darling Harbour in Sydney and others in Perth and Brisbane as well. And yet, it's not straightforward. You just can't sort of - it's like the 'sea monkey phenomena', isn't it?

I think somebody described it. You can't just have a little bunch of crystals and add a little bit of water and there you've got community. That's right. Community is something that forms on its own from the grass roots up. Whilst a number of developers, particularly recently, have, you know, I guess sold the idea of 'We're creating a community out here in Wallan,' for want of a better place, 'and so when you come to our community you're joining something,'

really, often what happens is that until people live there, there is no sense of community until they develop it themselves. So there's often not enough infrastructure and the infrastructure usually catches up with the population moving in rather than the other way around. So people create their own sense of community, whatever that may be. And for people now it can be virtual. A lot of people are showing me that their Facebook is one of their strongest senses of community and that's a community in virtual land. So they're inside their apartment, inside an urban desert, surrounded by concrete having a great old time! Yeah! Bernard? One of the very fashionable ideas, I think, for about the last 20 years in town planning has been the notion of urban villages. Now that really gets your goat... If you really want to turn on a town planner you say 'urban village', or put the word - 'sustainable urban village' and they just love it, just love it. The city of Sydney is a good example of this, Clover Moore has a strategic plan for turning the city of Sydney, that is the metropolitan municipality of Sydney into urban villages. So you have Ultimo and Pyrmont and Surry Hills and Paddington and Darling Harbour or whatever it is. What is an urban village? Well, this is the point, it's like an urban village is like an idea where you know your neighbour and you chat across the road and you're feeling connected and you know the butcher and the butcher knows you. I don't want to live in an urban village. This is my point about neighbourhood,

I get more social validation, connection if you like, through my workplace

and then when I want to go home to the suburbs

I simply want to go to sleep. with my neighbour!

I don't want to chat over the fence, I've chatted at work. I just want to go home and I don't want to know the name of my butcher. So it's a case of bugger community for Bernard. Yeah, I don't want the butcher to know me, I don't want to know the butcher. And this is my concept, in the 21st century - You a-social creature, you. No, this is 21st century thinking, that if the nature of neighbourhood has changed I'm getting social connection, validation, but it's just different and if we are going to have a truly diverse metropolitan area then there should be a place in a metropolitan area for bizarre people like me... Who don't want to be part of a community. know, you're involved in work, then you come home and everyone else can have community. (Inaudible comment from audience) We'll come to you. I minimise it, actually. That's true. Kim, how do you think about this? I mean you're interested in healthy places and healthy isn't about just what makes us sick and what makes us well it's actually about a sense of good community. Good cities have got plenty of room for people like Bernard but also lots of others! I think most people, including Bernard probably, invest their sense of identity in places, in cities and places at every level, we're invested in Australia, invested in Melbourne, invested in particular neighbourhoods within that. Sometimes I think it becomes a kind of fetish. The research I've been doing on urban character, one of the things it revealed was - and this was based in Melbourne, but I think it's true elsewhere as well - that when you scratch this question of urban or neighbourhood character

what you find is something really quite fluid and that in some neighbourhoods it means it's a kind of protected inward-looking sense of, 'this place must not change because we're very invested in keeping it exactly the way it is', perhaps for heritage reasons in some cases. In other cases though, there are very, very different kinds of identification with place. Some suburbs are defended because of their mix, because they're diverse, and it's seen that new developments, perhaps bulky developments, perhaps overdevelopment, what's seen as overdevelopment, is threatening the very diversity and mix of that neighbourhood rather than the purity of it. So, place can mean many things and it can change. Sure, I agree with Bernard that Australians have become very, very heavily invested in suburbia. I'd say over-invested, because I think that these things can change and indeed they have to change,

because low density suburbia that cannot support frequent public transport simply has no future in a low carbon world. You cannot reconcile that. So the Australian suburbs and we have so much suburbia,

I see no reason in trying to produce more of it. What I see the real task is to produce transit oriented development that will bring a walkable access to good public transport, frequent public transport. That means no timetable,

it means you turn up and the transport turns up. Wow. That'd be a fantasy.

Let's pick up on that point, public transport, I agree with that. It would be fantastic to actually have railway lines out to Werribee, the north-west railway link in Sydney is a good example, south-west down to Bringelly would be terrific. But whose houses are going to go to accommodate it? It's not so much that, it's how much they cost. It's $5 billion to run a 47km railway line from Southern Cross railway station in Melbourne to Windavayle -

what's 47 into 5 billion? Whatever that cost is.

But what is the cost of not having that...

But there's another way, everyone says 'well, let's get public transport'. Yep, that's terrific, if we can afford it, I agree with that. There is another way you can do this that meets our carbon footprint and that is the decentralisation of jobs. Why are we taking people from Cranbourne, from Penrith, from Caboolture into the CBD every day to a job? Isn't it easier to take the job to the person? So let's take jobs out of the CBD and see them in Werribee, in Castle Hill, in Mount Gravatt, in Joondalup in Perth

so that people can ride to work. It's the Canberra model, if you like, containerisation of the city. One approach is to have really, really expensive public transport - yep, terrific, great. Another thing is to provide incentives, town planning incentives, whatever incentives to decentralise jobs. There's a quarter of a million jobs in the centre of Melbourne. Let's take 80,000 and seed them around the metropolitan area so that you're actually reducing the carbon footprint. People live, work, play, recreate, go to work, go to hospital, go to university all within the same area. That to me is a better model for the future. Kim, what's your thought about that redistribution? Oh, it's obvious, yeah, I agree with that, but I don't think it works without good public transport. Public transport is cheap. This notion of 'can we afford public transport?'

People don't seem to say that when they're talking about roads, the upkeep of roads and the construction of new roads. We've got to stop servicing the car. I mean a large piece of the problem with making cities work better is to get the kind of network flows, the distributed network flows, that's how cities work. They're growth engines and they work by connecting people to each other and to ideas and to products and so on and they have to flow. And the car network and the extent to which parking keeps us apart from each other has become completely out of control. We have to turn that around. Kim, in some of your work you've looked at groups who have opposed urban densification. What are the major concerns about densifying our cities? And I guess implicit in this we're assuming that population is going to grow and I'm sure that's going to come up with audience discussion and questions. But if we assume that population is going to grow, as problematic as that is for some people, what are the concerns about densification? I think it presses some buttons that are - probably unnecessarily in many cases - that people see it as being overwhelmed, they see their own sense of worth and of power and of identity being overwhelmed by high-rise buildings,

by too many people and so on. So there's a kind of dystopian psychology, almost. Is it an aesthetic thing as well? In think in part that, but I also think that there's a complete lack of vision. We haven't put our design imagination to work enough in this country to produce the kind of visions of urban futures that can catch the public imagination and bring them with us. Because I do think that when the planning is done well and people feel that they are still in charge of their future they will accept much, much more change than is usually regarded to be the case where people are simply forming resident groups and digging their heels in and saying, 'not in my backyard'. I think there's a lot of examples where... One of my PhD students did a case study, which was in Canada, where the planning was done particularly well and the entire community went through a major intensification process around a railway line and they argued at the end that the urban character had been preserved and yet there had been massive, massive physical changes. What they were really saying was that the character and identity of the community that they really cared about was primarily social, and that it was quite possible then to bring in massive changes

as long as that sense of social identity and community were somehow respected through that process. Helen Killmier, you've been involved in quite a lot of community type consultations, haven't you, in local government situations? What makes the difference? One of the things I used to say to some of the councils that I worked in was 'do you want a thorough process or do you want a quick process? Do you want people to really come on board, do you really want to consult with the communities? And if so, it's going to take this much time to do that and to provide people with a real opportunity to have some input.' But sometimes consultation around new developments can just be just, 'We'll just do that, it will make them all feel good.' And in fact in the end people feel that they've got no power. The development still happens, or a version of it, or the tree comes down or... Is it a hopeless battle despite what councils say? I actually say that the community always has much more power than it thinks it does and should it choose to mobilise that power it can be an amazing force to be reckoned with. However, it requires co-operation and a certain level of cohesion for that to happen, but I've seen that happen where decisions have been overturned... Then of course they go to VCAT and that's a whole other story. It sure is. I think there are some very powerful examples of where the community has blocked projects or developments. A good example of that is in Perth, with the Cottesloe Beach proposal to have high-rise on the beach

and the locals have decided no, and that's blocked that project.

Camberwell here in Melbourne is another example where that has been blocked. So there are examples on key sites around Australia where... (Inaudible) Sorry? The green triangle. Was it the St Kilda triangle? Green triangle. St Kilda triangle. So there are key sites and I suppose there might be other examples where it goes the other way. But the comeback to some of those campaigns might be 'Well, look, the population is growing, we have to share the load here, development is inevitable.' But if the community, in a democratic community if the majority of people say, 'no, we don't want that', then the system responds accordingly. So it's not as if the community does not have power. In fact there are some great examples where the community has had the authority and changed the outcome. Sein-Way - You have to distinguish between where that opposition is legitimate and where it isn't.

So, Camberwell for instance where there's a two storey hole in the ground that's just crying out for redevelopment that's being resisted or was being resisted... I actually agree with you on that. ..compared to doing a high-rise development on the foreshore where you're casting the beach into shadow and so on. So there are legitimate forms of resident resistance and some dubious ones.

Well, I actually agree with you on those specifics. I don't like the word legitimate and illegitimate. If the majority of people say, 'we don't want that', then that's legitimate in a democracy. That's the way I would see it. But the majority of people in Camberwell want to stop the railway station redevelopment. that doesn't seem to me that that's the end of the story at all. There's a larger public interest that's involved here. Interesting. Sein-Way, in the country... You've travelled to many countries and I'm interested in - when does urbanisation fail? What are the catastrophic examples of urbanisation that you've witnessed? Absolutely. You only need to travel to some cities. For examples I was in Mumbai, Bombay, from the port area to the airport takes about two hours and all along the streets you see slums, hundreds of millions of people moving to cities around the world. This is just one example. And what do they end up with? Living in slums. But then again...

And that's the urban reality, of the majority of cities really. That's the reality, yes... The only big example of somewhat success, I would say, is China. China has managed to absorb about 300 million people into the urban areas without the creation of massive slums that you see around the world. How have they done that, is that all about planning? There's a few issues here and there. Some argue that the slums in China are largely hidden. Yes, I mean there are slums definitely, but a lot less than many other large cities around the world. But one thing I see that's positive is investment in renewable energies, for example, because one thing that is important to power cities around the world - we are absorbing a lot of people, we have to absorb a lot of people - we need to actually generate power from renewable energies. certainly when lots of the new high-rise developments go up in Australian cities now I often think, what a missed opportunity, they could have made this an absolute showcase for renewables or good design, or solar passive, or, you know... Do you think we are not taking all the opportunities that we could be?

I think so, we are blessed with abundant sun here. We've got a lot of land to put into wind turbine. For example, in the last two years in China, China has invested more in renewable energy than what we are producing annually in terms of electrical power output. So it is possible for us to actually be very close to 100% renewable. And there's a good book around that actually explains the step by step of how to do it. Do we have a moral obligation to actually address our footprint? And if the rest of the developing world, if they aspire to live as we do on a quarter acre block

we can't sustain that. So should we be providing a better example? A question about our carbon footprint - a good one. I notice in Scientific American last month they did an entire special on cities and the fact that they might be a solution to the problems of our age. Bernard, is this one of them? I agree, it's not just the carbon footprint and all that goes with that it's a question of inefficiency. The idea of living in the burbs and commuting into the CBD is a 20th century concept, it's a 19th century concept. The technology has simply changed from trams, trains to automobiles. The 21st century response to that is to take jobs to the people. Now, Kim has said we need to be focusing on public transport or diverting funds away from highways, or motorways or whatever. While we're waiting for the politicians to actually make that decision to redirect funds from motorways to railways, my idea of decentralising - actively, proactively, decentralising jobs - I think is the best way to achieve the reduction in the carbon footprint. And the best example of this has come out of Melbourne. About four years ago the TAC, the Transport Accident Commission,

was decentralised from Exhibition St to Geelong. 770 jobs came out of the CBD and went to Geelong - made not a jot of difference really to the CBD but a big difference to Geelong. Let's not decentralise necessarily to Geelong,

but to Werribee, to Broadmeadows, to Moonee Ponds, to Box Hill, to Moorabbin and containerise the city. I think that would have a bigger impact on reducing our carbon footprint than a lot of other alternative strategies. Sein-Way, are cities the solution to reducing our carbon footprint or do they all come with their own baggage? They are part of the solution. Another solution would be to adopt more green technologies in terms of green building technologies and looking for more cost effective solutions but always focusing on how to make it green, but also focusing on how to actually make it feasible, financially feasible for us - I think that's the key.

Do you find it hard to convince governments

that it is going to be financially feasible? We were talking about public transport before, a huge capital investment needed in that sort of infrastructure and people baulk at that. Things like this are always a challenge, obviously, but it's our role to keep on campaigning. For example, pretty soon we are going to be launching a green cities criteria, framework and a check list. So it's very powerful and very significant Because it will help authorities and decision making people to look at something and say, 'OK, this is what we need to do.'

A simple check list that anyone with a reading age of 14 or above can understand. So it's feasible - it's very readable

but also something that we want to show people and also excite people about what's possible for the future. Because we believe in a future where people living in cities and around the world can have clean water, clean air, our power will be powered by renewable energy, and our transport will be green. We're a way off yet, aren't we? The knowledge is already out there, the knowledge is out there. What we need to do is combine all the great knowledge we have

from around the world and focus on providing it and making it cost effective. Kim, do we have a moral responsibility to live in cities so as to reduce our carbon footprint as the questioner asked? I don't know if there's any moral responsibility to move to cities. There's certainly a moral responsibility to address the issues

of both climate change and global poverty, and I think that they largely go together, so I do see a moral responsibility there. I think, particularly for any new city infrastructure we're putting in, the moral responsibility has become quite high. We should remember that the major decisions we make about street networks, public transport and density have very, very long term effects. Much longer term than putting in place a policy, which can be changed. Much longer term than building a building, which can be demolished. But one you put in place the basic infrastructure and you allow, say, a suburban development to develop at about 10 dwelling units a hectare, Australians will come, they will put down their roots and they will then defend that density almost forever. We often forget that the things that we value about cities have come about through a whole series of layers. There's a natural environment, an agricultural environment, then there's often the first form of urban layer and that becomes a kind of mature suburbia

and then we declare it finished.

I don't think that that's valid, I think that we've got to say that the suburbs are not yet finished and that while they are not to be transformed and in some cases the values there are to be preserved we do have to fit them out with a far more sustainable infrastructure. Great discussion. My question to the panel is - What do you think are the best examples of urban planning in Australia and why? Great question, and let's try and be national, if we can at all. Bernard, do you want to pick that one up? Well, a good example, I think, is a new master plan community about 20 km south-west of the Brisbane CBD, called Springfield. Not Springfield as in the Simpsons, but - it was named prior to the Simpsons getting up, but it's now connected to the CBD with an extension to a railway line. It has a motorway, which is connected. And also key employers are now relocating to Springfield, so you have jobs, you have public transport, you have motor vehicle transport and population, all clustered in that area. And ultimately we have a community of about 120,000 people. There's probably about 25,000-30,000 people, and this is a project that really didn't get off the ground till about ten years ago

and will be fully developed in about another ten or 15 years. Master planned communities, where you get the bits and pieces right and the policy settings right. That is - state government departments, decentralised.

That to me makes a big difference to the effectiveness and quality of life for people who live in that city. Sounding a bit like the people's republic Bernardastan that you described. Exactly. That's right. Any other examples form the panel? Kim? If I can I'll have two quick ones. One comes from Melbourne. I think that the postcode 3000 project of bringing more and more residential uses into the absolute central city of Melbourne I think has been extraordinarily successful. I think that the functional mix of getting more and more people living right in the middle of Melbourne has been - over the last 20 years or so has been very successful. And we've seen that to an extent in Canberra, too. There's a slow growth of what was quite desolate place in the centre of Canberra, but now there's people living there.

These things are often incremental, so you don't see it suddenly, but if you look back 20 years to the very few people who lived in central Melbourne, now to the many tens of thousands of people living in central Melbourne. The other one with all of its problems and I think there are quite a few, is the Mandurah rail connection in Perth. My sister lives in Mandurah, which when I was a kid growing up in Perth Mandurah was a country town where I went surfing. Now it's kind of an outer suburb in a very swiftly growing region. And there's a very fast train down there, where you can get on the train and pass all the cars on the freeway - it's quite an experience. I think it's got a few problems... Going, 'ner ne ner, ner ne ner,' out the window at them. Any other examples? Yep, there is one more that I'd like to cite - it's called Varsity Lakes - at the southern end of the Gold Coast, just south of Burleigh Heads. It's a very pleasant residential development around lakes, but Bond University is headquartered there as well and there is a plan to, and there is activity around concentrating jobs, so you have jobs, education and residential, these integrated communities, where you have everything local. To me that is clearly the way of the 21st century. Can't that sometimes feel all a bit parochial and local, though?

I mean you were talking about... Well, you can't have it both ways. ..the thing about cities being so exciting

is the sense that you're part of a global community. You can't have it both ways. I think that if you want a city that is sustainable, that reduces carbon footprint - well, you don't have people commuting 50km from the edge of Melbourne or the edge of Sydney into the CBD,

then you have to containerise the city. And the tradeoff is, yep, you don't get the frisson, you don't get the Paddington, the Carlton sort of edginess out in those places, but you do get a great quality of life, so there's a trade off to be had there. Anyone been to the States and got a sense of what's worked and what hasn't. Well, I think New York, I mean, you can't get a better city for that that Manhattan Island

in terms of public transport. Manhattan Island has 8 million people.

The greater metropolitan area has 23 million people. There are subway lines going up and down that island. It's about five or six of them going straight up and down. It's a very efficient way to get 8 million people In terms of bad cities in America I don't think you need to look any further than Phoenix Arizona. Same size as Melbourne. At the end of the second World War Phoenix Arizona had 200,000 people.

It's now 4.5 million people, just sprawled in every direction, very much a car based city and very much where we don't want to go. But American - in any field you've got the best and worst. But New York's interesting isn't it? Because you sometimes just have to retreat to Central Park, heaving for air, trying to fill your lungs with fresh air. Look, it's interesting, New York City is big and dense and so forth, 23 million people in the broader metropolitan area. If you want to see big and dense then go to Tokyo, biggest city on the planet, 34 million people. And it actually operates in a very efficient way.

You may not want to live there by Australian standards, but the Japanese do a pretty good job of accommodating and transporting and feeding, providing a reasonable quality of life, for a population of almost twice Australia, in one city.

It's an extraordinary piece of mechanism, when you actually are in it. Natasha Mitchell and panellists at Radio National's Seven Billion and Counting event

at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. That's it for Big Ideas.

Don't forget you can see more musings about what's in store for the future and much more besides at our sparkling new website. I'm Waleed Aly, see you next time. Closed Captions by CSI. .. THEME MUSIC

Ethiopia - a biblical land where the values of the Old Testament are still part of the culture of the country. This land has a religion that goes back to King Solomon. The connection with Solomon starts here in the ancient city of Axum.

Axum was the capital of the most powerful kingdom

between the Roman Empire and Persia. In the ruins there are a series of strange and massive obelisks. The largest of these was originally one solid stone, and it was the greatest carved-stone monument from the ancient world. It is said to weigh 500 tonnes,

and originally stood an incredible 33m above ground level. These stone monuments are known as the 'Axum Stelae'.

They could date back 2,000 years.

More than 300 of them lie in the remains of a royal cemetery. What kind of technology and organisation could quarry, carve, transport, and then raise objects of this size? Nobody is actually certain of their age either. This example is a single stone rising 21m high, conceived as a building with artificial carved door and windows. The stelae are topped by the pagan image of a sunrise, and are possibly symbols for life and rebirth. The windows could also be interpreted as crosses, implying a Christian connection. (People sing in foreign language)

At a local wedding, today, the clothing and postures of the couple,

seem to be a throwback to the times of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba - more evidence of Ethiopia's unique brand of Christianity. (Singing continues) Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen, is also said to have brought the Ark of the Covenant here to Axum, nearly 3,000 years ago. (Man chants) It is reputedly still here in this humble church, under the protection of a guardian monk who never leaves the building and prays around the clock. Visitors are not allowed to see the Arc as it is said to turn onlookers into ashes. The Axum stelae, on the other hand, are there for all to see.

And could be the ancient evidence of this continuity between old and new beliefs. ..

This Program is Captioned


Enemy within. Another Afghan

soldier turns on Australian

troops injuring three. I stress

that there is no simple

one-line explanation to this

incident or the previous

incident. Italy's larger-than-life leader claimed

not by sex scandals but by a

failing economy. We asked the

Prime Minister to stand down .

Closely watched celebrities.

Claims 'News of the World' was

stalking Britain's A-listers.

Such is life. A final resting

place for Ned Kelly's remains.