City Boom, City Bust

Australian cities are awash with construction activity. From Collingwood to Kogarah, Marrickville to Newstead, every passing month seems to bring with it a new, sold-off-the-plan high-rise apartment tower. Real estate, it seems, is the true national sport.


Australia now hosts the world’s most active market for securitised home loans and has the world’s second highest, and rising, levels of household debt. There are reportedly more cranes in the east coast capital cities than all of North America. And with the cranes and high-rise towers, come social problems and no respite from affordability crises: overcrowded schools, longer working hours to pay off mortgages, and worsening homelessness. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that in recent polls, densification and housing affordability are among the issues of most concern to Australian voters.

In this City Road episode, Alistair, Dallas and Chris revisit Maurice Daly’s classic 1982 book, Sydney Boom, Sydney Bust. Daly’s insights remain highly relevant to Australian cities today; cities that are marked by poorly planned densification, inflated property markets, land speculation, global capital and housing poverty. They agree with Daly that it is the property and finance system itself, rather than any ruptures to it, that reproduce housing booms, bubbles and busts in our cities.

Alistair Sisson and Dallas Rogers from the University of Sydney talk to these issues by narrating their 2018 Thinking Space essay, which was written with Chris Gibson from the University of Wollongong for the 100th anniversary of the journal Australian Geographer. An abridged version of this audio essay was produced and broadcast by The Conversation for their Essays on Air podcast, but we bring you the full, unabridged audio essay at City Road.

Alistair Sisson is a PhD candidate in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.

Dallas Rogers is the Program Director of the Master of Urbanism, School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, and host of City Road.

Chris Gibson is Professor of Human Geography and Executive Director UOW Global Challenges Program at the University of Wollongong.

Essay Credit
Alistair Sisson and Dallas Rogers narrate their 2018 Thinking Space essay titled Property speculation, global capital, urban planning and financialisation: Sydney Boom, Sydney Bust redux. The essay was written with Chris Gibson and it was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the journal Australian Geographer.

Voice Credits
Narrator: Dallas Rogers
Acknowledgment of Country and old voices: Alistair Sisson
Introduction: Cheyne Anderson, Executive Producer of Think: Digital Futures
Voice of Maurice Daly: Roderick Chambers, Executive Producer of The Wire
Voice of Manual Aalbers: Kevin Suarez, 2SER Newsreader

Audio Credits
Strange Dog by Blue Dot Sessions
Atlantic State of Mind (A Long Winter) by McGee
Gnossienne No3 by Trans Alp
Soundscape audio sourced from: freesound.org

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