Decentralisation – Flogging A Dead Horse?

Date - 25 September 2019
Venue - Bartier Perry

Bartier Perry is proud to host this AIUS event

From the very beginning of the British occupation of Australia the population has been concentrated in the first settlements: Sydney, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne…The vast and comparatively dry interior has never been conducive to substantial urban settlement, except where irrigation has been possible or mining has provided the economic base, most notably at Ballarat and Bendigo, Broken Hill, Queenstown, Kalgoorlie and Mt Isa. Our speakers will touch on 20th century efforts by governments to break the capital city dominance and assess the likelihood of the pattern changing.

This debate is given added impetus by the Federal Government’s proposals to send new immigrants to regional centres. How can they be sustained by flagging regional economies?


Jim Colman

Jim is a Sydney-based architect, planner, author and part-time university lecturer. He has had many years of consulting experience in urban and environmental planning, both in Australia and abroad. Jim is a former Chairman of AIUS NSW and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute. He will speak about his recent research on decentralisation, which he undertook as Practitioner-in-Residence for the Henry Halloran Trust at Sydney University.

Jim’s research strongly suggests that despite half a century of government effort to achieve a more even spread of population, its two largest cities continue to grow unabated, while dozens of towns are languishing. As a policy instrument, decentral-isation has failed. It has never succeeded in retarding metropolitan growth. The evidence is clear: despite high hopes and a proliferation of well-intentioned policies, governments have failed to achieve the elusive dream of slower metropolitan growth, balanced by healthy growth in the country areas. There is, however, some evidence that a fresh approach may be in the wind…

Dr Glen Searle

Dr Glen Searle is Honorary Associate Professor of Planning at the Universities of Sydney and Queensland. In the late 1960s he worked in the NSW Department of Decentralisation and Development, where he conducted research for the Development Corporation of NSW’s Report on Selective Decentralisation (1969). His doctorate at Macquarie University (1980) analysed how state assistance for decentralising firms was individually decided.

Glen will discuss the project at the University of Sydney which is currently looking at alternative settlement patterns to accommodate Australia’s population growth. He will survey the NSW government’s postwar decentralisation program and the reasons for its establishment and demise; also the background to the Whitlam Government’s regional growth centres program. He will finally turn to Australia’s present spatial economy as the context for a new decentralisation initiative.

Dr Bob Solomon, Chairman AIUS NSW

This event is eligible for points/hours towards your required CPD



5.00 PM Presentation
6.30 PM Networking and refreshments