I listened in to this fellow in RN Breakfast this morning, and frankly, didn’t like anything he had to say and don’t believe it’s relevant to Australian society anyway.
The Australian culture – the 650M2 suburban block, 3 bedroom brick & tile, mow the grass every weekend, maybe a pool, cat, dog & 2_point_something_or_other kids is simply not ameniable to a medium density, three up unit type of existence. The examples Jeb Brugmann quotes – Barcelona, London, etc are all vastly different demographics to Brisbane or outer suburban Sydney & Melbourne and therein lies the truth of the matter. We might work in the city, but a huge majority of Australians live in suburbia as a compromise. I don’t for a second believe that any of us choose to live cheek-by-jowl with neighbours how play loud music, have screaming children, barking dogs and and a penchant for boozy mates at all hours of the night.
There are a lot of Australians, just like me, who have reached middle age and would dearly love to cast off the shackles of suburbia. Unfortunately, the need to maintain the work-life compromise, the need to earn a living in the city and the desire for some modicum of peace, privacy & serenity which comes from having your own backyard to wander in and think, keep us fenced into suburbia. The very last thing any of us – people like me – want to hear is how unproductive and expensive to the greater over-arching societal model our little piece of suburbia is. Frankly, Mr Brugmann can take his theories and go fuck himself, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t enjoy suburbia at all. I loathe needing to work in the city equally as much, but we all do what we have to do to survive. The greater societal need can go jump. If a steadily increasing population requires that population to cram itself into denser & denser, and consequently lower & lower living standards, for the sake of this mythical beast called ‘productivity’, then let’s not allow uncontrolled population growth! Surely, that concept also includes the elements of top two tiers on Mazlow’s heirarchy? Achievement and fulfillment?
Brugmann & his ilk aren’t with the rest of us in the real world. Bean-counters & statisticians all. With a land mass equivalent to that of the United States and a population less than 36% of the United Kingdom, there’s no way under the Sun that Australia needs to be concerned about medium to high density societal structures any time soon.