Author: Viv Straw

Theme 5 Connections

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the fifth in a series of articles exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv in our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; then you developed the role of vision and Governance: what role does location have in all of this? VS: No place exists in isolation; every place is connected to its hinterland, other urban areas, food sources and water supplies and to other people and information. How these connections function is fundamental to the liveability and efficiency of the city. The most liveable cities are ones that facilitate freedom of movement and access for everyone. TT: One of the characteristics of Canberra is that it is incredibly reliant on private transport, how does that affect us? VS: Well there are four parts to this, the internal connections and the connections with the rest of humanity and resources. But we also need physical connections and telecommunications systems. Interestingly, the better our electronics communications become, the more we want to be in close physical proximity to each other. It is so...

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Theme 4 Diversity

Viv Straw is the President of the Planning Institute Australia (ACT Division). This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring themes derived from Randolph Hester and others, developing an Australian Ecological Democracy theme. TT: Viv in our first article you talked about four global megatrends, city centre living becoming more popular, technology driving the new economy, a diversity of land uses together and the re-emergence of mass transit as an alternative to connecting people to other parts of the city; then you developed the role of vision and Governance, so what are we trying to achieve? VS: The modern city draws its vitality and land values from a clever mix of human activity and enterprise that makes cities exciting and accessible. Cities have been described as the greatest achievement of the human race. However cities develop, access to facilities, services, entertainment, work and other people are the most important determinants of land value. The greater the diversity of land uses and opportunities that cities have the more appealing they become. TT: One of the characteristics of Australian cities is that they are incredibly liveable, most people put this down to our leafy suburbs, are you trying to change that? VS: No, I think this is a matter of adding more opportunities to our urban environment rather than diminishing the quality of our suburbs. There will always be...

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It is a myth that car useres pay more in taxes than is spent on roads

PTUA logo http://www.ptua.org.au/images/titlelogo.gif Common Urban Myths About Transport Myth: Motorists pay more in taxes and fees than is spent on roads Fact: Part of the problem here is the underlying premise: just as we don’t expect all money collected from gamblers to be spent on casinos, or all money collected from liquor excise to be spent on pubs, so we shouldn’t expect all money collected from motorists to be spent on roads. But in any case, the smallest credible estimate for the total cost of the road system in Australia is $52 billion a year, of which $35 billion a year is collected in taxes and charges on motorists, leaving a ‘road deficit’ of at least $17 billion a year. It’s often claimed by the RACV and other road lobbyists that the cost of roads is only a small percentage of what Australian motorists pay in fuel tax, registration and other fees. This is untrue: in fact, taxes and charges on motorists fail to cover the cost to the public of car use. The confusion arises because of the peculiarities of our federal system, where the Federal Government collects most of the tax revenue, but state and local governments are responsible for most of the spending. Headline-grabbing figures for fuel tax are easy to obtain simply because there are well over 10 million motorists in Australia, so if each...

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