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Towns die, cities choke, Australia sleeps

By Everald Compton - posted Wednesday, 14 August 2019

I was born and bred in the Australian bush.

There, I went to a tiny bush school which had eleven students whose parents worked in the local timber mill. I enjoyed many happy days in a prosperous little community that really was one large family.

Back in those days of the 1930's and 40's, Australia had thousands of small towns, most of them larger than mine, which were stable and secure with affordable housing, plus good shops and a fine school and reliable hospital, based as they were on solid rural industries which were the core of the national economy.


Then, they slowly began to die.

They were victims of many backward factors such as economic rationalism, manipulated 'free' markets, scarce investment, costly inadequate transport, declining water supply, high cost of labour, no jobs for the young, plus an ageing population and poor government which allowed capital cities to grow in unbalanced fashion.

Now, they are the remnants of a rural society that has little hope of revival unless Australia suddenly gets an enlightened government that turns around decades of neglect in which vision has been a rare commodity.

At the same time, our capital cities were allowed to grow unrestrained and unplanned so that now the streets are clogged, the footpaths impassible with too many parked cars, and we have inefficient and scarce public transport and thousands of ugly high rise apartments, mostly poorly built.

We claim that this represents modern civilisation. Wow.

And the little guys suffer there too, just as they do in the bush, as most can't pay the rent for their exorbitantly priced shops in huge shopping malls where there is intense retail competition especially from online shopping services that are also killing their rural counterparts.


Many constructive thinkers are offering solutions, but these fall on the deaf ears of government.

My view is that we must start with reduction in the size of government, dropping from three levels to two.

Local Governments are not mentioned in the Constitution so they can be eliminated.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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