On Thursday 23 March 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament on sustainable city design in order to address the housing, climate, and cost-of-living crises. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.
E WATSON-BROWN: Here in Australia we're one of the most urbanised populations in the world. Globally, 50 per cent of the world population lives in cities, while in Australia it's 85 per cent. Cities are the site and often the root cause of problems, but they can also offer the solutions to our crises—and right now we have a cocktail of major crises: housing, climate and the cost-of-living crisis. But with good planning and design we can address these crises and create sustainable cities to house and nurture all of us and the environment, and not massive developer profits. Rising to this challenge offers so much opportunity to design our cities around balancing equity, environment and energy. Equity means everyone gets a well-designed, affordable home to live in, world-class public services, beautiful green space and active public transport that's free and more convenient than driving.
Environmental health means balance between the natural and built environments by retaining and regenerating natural ecosystems, which will be part of addressing the energy and emissions crisis. This in turn will help deal with the climate crisis. Cities produce 70 per cent of global emissions, an enormous proportion of which is from motorised private transport. So we need to rapidly decarbonise the city, not through fake offsets like in the Brisbane City Council but by transitioning to entirely renewable sources of energy. What does this mean for Brisbane? Brisbane could be the demonstration sustainable city. Brisbane will be hosting the Olympics in 2032, and this could leave a positive legacy. Sadly, at the moment, the government looks set to hand it all over to big developers for massive profits and leave the community worse off when the athletes and tourists head home. But the next 10 years could be, must be, the time when we create and demonstrate the model of an Australian sustainable city.
In Ryan, I'm proud to be fighting for the start of this vision—for free, frequent and connected public transport for everyone; for walkable, safe neighbourhoods like the school community in The Gap; for preserving beautiful green space while delivering affordable housing at Kooya Road in Mitchelton; for a local school and services and a public and active transport bridge in Moggill-Bellbowrie; for a new community centre in Kenmore so real community can flourish; and for active transport infrastructure in St Lucia and across the west side. This new vision of the city isn't crazy; it's sensible, it's achievable, and it's urgently necessary. But we've got both major parties and their mates in the development industry in our way. So, to win it, it'll take all of us getting active and fighting for it.