The Daily Telegraph's "People's Plan"
The Daily Telegraph, a daily newspaper in Sydney, has recently published a special series of articles on planning for Sydney under the banner of The People's Plan. The notion of 'people's plans' has an interesting history in Sydney, not least as a term that was used by green ban activists for their alternative plans in the 1970s. So, what does the Tele's People's Plan involve? First, the Tele surveyed their readers to identify a set of big issues they believed to be facing Sydney today. Having identified these issues with the input of their readers, the newspaper then assembled a 'cabinet' of experts in these various fields to write opinion pieces, which take the form of proposals for planning and policy. Editor Paul Whittaker asked these experts for "fresh thinking" and "practical and workable solutions".
In explaining the People's Plan concept, Whittaker referred back to the Sydney masterplan devised almost a century ago by engineer John Bradfield (most famous as designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Bradfield's plan, says Whittaker, was bold and visionary, but never came to be implemented due to a combination of war, depression and the usual "political wrangling and bureaucratic inertia". Where are the visionaries today, he asks? Only a bold and coherent vision for the city will "give people of Sydney the truly global city that they deserve". (His short video launching the series can be found here). To date, the Tele has published articles by experts on a wide range of topics which include: health; safety; affordability; transport; youth; driving; tourism; education; environment; ageing; families; commerce and; western Sydney. These articles by experts are accompanied by another dozen or so articles written by people on the 'front lines' of some of these issues - such as commuters, carers, pensioners and homeless young people. Many of these contributions are fascinating reading, and I think the Tele's People's Plan has attempted to put a range of very important issues on the public agenda through this campaign.
|Screen grab from the Daily Telegraph's "People's Plan" website|
The Property Council of Australia's "Make My Sydney Work"
At around the same as the Tele launched its People's Plan, the Property Council of Australia launched a national campaign called Make My City Work. It describes the campaign as a "call to action" designed to "direct attention to cities and engage the community on growth". Material has been produced for each major Australian city, including a Make My Sydney Work campaign devoted to "fixing Australia's global city". There's a set of materials under five campaign headings: housing; jobs; lifestyle; infrastructure, and; sustainability. At present, these materials are much briefer than those in the People's Plan. But Peter Verwer, CEO of the Property Council, launched the campaign with a lunchtime address to the National Press Club at which he spoke about the need for a 'New Deal' for cities in Australia.
|Screen grab from the Property Council of Australia's Make My Sydney Work website|
Alongside these two claims to stand for Sydney, and the Sydney Alliance, we also have the Committee for Sydney, Ten Thousand Friends of Greater Sydney, and most recently Occupy Sydney, to name a few.
Standing for the city: some critical questions...
How should we critically interrogate these different attempts to stand for the interests of the city of Sydney? We could ask several kinds of questions...