Red Alert on Turnbull’s ‘smart cities’ public transport agenda

19th April, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull’s perceived dithering and incompetence is creating a dangerous complacency amongst conservatives whilst, in the background, he cunningly prepares a budget that will push forward the green-left agenda, and strike at the heart of Australia’s living standards and cultural heritage.Having studied Turnbull in great detail, two invariables stand out:

  1. He has always wanted to be Prime Minister
  2. He is always scheming

Particular attention must be paid to Turnbull’s so-called “better cities” policy. He intends this to be the centrepiece of his Prime Ministership, and is using it to distinguish himself from Tony Abbott.

When Turnbull became Prime Minister, he immediately appointed a dedicated Minister for Cities, Jamie Briggs. In announcing the new ministry Turnbull cited some vague need for “liveable, vibrant cities“, but Australian Financial Review journalist Michael Bleby revealed the true nature of the agenda:

“It will be up to Briggs… to make high density urban living an attractive enough alternative to put an end to the equally romantic attachment to the suburban block.”

Turnbull has long admitted his preference for high-density urban living (for the plebs, that is). In a 2013 speech to the Grattan Institute he said:

“The truth is that density is not the problem, density is the solution… We’ve got to recognise that we have to make it easier to build new dwelling units.”

These statements though, don’t reveal the half of it.

The End Game of “Cities” Policies

Much like the Marxists of yesteryear, the modern, elitist green-left (often misnomerically known as ‘progressives’) want to ‘scientifically’ micromanage every aspect of human life.

Their long-planned method of achieving this involves:

  • Bottling populations up into strictly circumscribed, densely-populated high-rise cities.
  • Connecting these cities via high-speed rail.
  • Depopulating rural and outer suburban areas, which will be ‘returned to wilderness’ (i.e. national parks that are off-limits to the general public).
  • Using modern technology to exercise what would ultimately be comprehensive control.


Baby steps are taken in a variety of seemingly distinct policy areas to achieve this, with each step presented to the public in isolation, and fraudulent justifications (e.g. climate change) provided. This tactic has been successful in preventing the general public from cottoning onto the fact that all of these seemingly separate and distinct policies are working together to change society for one ultimate ideological purpose.

If you look hard enough you’ll see that these plans are, to a significant degree, publicly admitted. For instance, in 2013, the British BBC presented “The city of 2050” complete with ubiquitous sensor and surveillance networks, high-rise mini-apartment living, and skies full of drones. Of course, outlets like the BBC, and our own ABC, which are controlled by the left, present this future in a positive light.

Several experimental versions of these so-called “smart cities” are already being built. The two most prominent are ‘Masdar City‘ in the United Arab Emirates, and ‘Songdo International Business District’ in South Korea. The Hawke Labor Government even planned one for Australia in the late 1980s known as ‘The Multi Function Polis‘. Thankfully it was abandoned by the Howard Government in 1998, but steps to transform all of Australia’s capital cities into “smart cities” continue unabated, particularly under the guise of combating “climate change”.

You might notice that primordial versions of many of the crucial components of these future slave cities are already in existence, and are often prefixed with the word “smart”. There are “Smart Phones”, “Smart Meters”, “Smart Appliances”, “Smart Cars” etc. Other buzzwords and slogans used to push this agenda include “vertical communities”, “urban agglomeration”, “sustainability “, “amenity”, “walkable density”, “infill development”, “smart growth”, “innovation”, “efficiency”, “human capital”, “internet of things” and many more. Pejoratives like “urban sprawl” and “McMansions” are used to demonise the traditional stand-alone house on a quarter-acre block.

Policies of both state and federal governments work symbiotically with large corporations, large labor unions, and other NGOs to progress the agenda. Sectors of the economy that are difficult to centrally control, like small and medium-sized businesses, are considered a threat, and policies are formulated to destroy them, often in the guise of “helping workers” or “consumer rights”.

What are the fraudulent justifications for “smart cities” policy?

Traffic Congestion – Green-leftists claim that building more roads causes more traffic congestion, which is an astonishing statement. With that kind of ‘logic’ it’s a wonder they can support the NBN, because apparently creating more bandwidth won’t improve download/upload speeds.

If you build enough roads you will, of course, eventually eliminate congestion and make it easier to live a traditional Australian quarter-acre block or rural lifestyle. In the first instance though, congestion may only be temporarily alleviated because, as traffic flows improve, people currently avoiding cars will make the switch.

For instance, someone living in a tiny, urban high-rise apartment and commuting short distances to work via public transport, may decide they can now move out into a leafy suburb and commute to work via their very own privately-owned car.

The green-left (i.e. Turnbullites/Labor/Greens) want the pressures to be in precisely the opposite direction. They neglect new freeway funding thus causing congestion to the point of insanity. This squeezes people into deciding to move into urban apartments, so they can commute short distances to work via government-controlled public transport. This lifestyle will become more appealing as cars are increasingly forced out of cities, giving trams free reign.

Housing Affordability – Turnbull wants more urban apartments built to deal with housing affordability, but doesn’t indicate a willingness to do anything about overpriced housing on the suburban fringes. As has been repeatedly demonstrated, the housing affordability crisis is a result of the restrictive planning policies of state governments and local councils, which artificially raise land prices. It’s basic supply and demand.

Economists are already predicting a glut of inner-city urban apartments that will drastically reduce prices. The number of approvals for new apartments in Australia is now equal to the number of approvals for new stand-alone homes. Just five years ago apartment approvals were half that of stand-alone homes. Further, most new jobs are within 10km of the centre of the major cities.

If outer suburban and rural prices remain high, and car-based road infrastructure is further neglected (eg; Victorian Labor refusing to build East-West Link), the result will be a gradual and seemingly organic migration into inner-city apartments, especially by young people. Indeed, it is already happening.

Urban Decay/Blight/Rot – Urban decay is overemphasised in order to justify pumping inordinate amounts of money into cities, and little or nothing into rural areas. The recent example of North Queensland is classic. The north is responsible for billions in tax receipts, but gets little or nothing back for infrastructure projects. Money is effectively redistributed from the rural and regional areas of Queensland, into urban rail and other projects in Brisbane.

Crime – Urban crime is largely the result of increasingly lax policing methods, and mass immigration from countries with cultures that are incompatible with Australia.

The particulars of Turnbull’s push forward

Two major points have thus far emerged regarding how Turnbull will push forward this agenda via what now appears to be a budget that largely shuts out Treasurer Scott Morrison.

  1. Increases in federal funding for urban rail projects & organising ‘value capture’

The “smart cities” the left are working towards do not involve privately-owned vehicles. All transport is centrally-controlled by a technocratic oligarchy and overwhelmingly involves light rail and small, driverless “smart cars”.

Driverless cars are a key component of the ‘smart cities’ agenda. Photo: Michael Schick

This totalitarian vision was rejected by Tony Abbott, who instead funded freeways and highways for private cars. In his 2009 book Battlelines, Abbott eloquently articulates his (thoroughly liberal) reasoning:

“In Australia’s big cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still a hideous drain on the public purse…People who can afford to live in the inner city or on a train line…often puzzle over others’ attachment to their own car and passion to drive. They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is king in his own car. Drivers choose the destination, the route, the time of departure, the music that’s played and whether to have company. Women, especially, tend to value the sense of security that a car can give. For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom. It should not be underestimated or sneered at by senior policy makers who are more accustomed to getting their own way.” [pg. 173-174]

Turnbull and his leftist media allies call the Abbott policy ‘ideological’, which is a classic tactic of the left. When a liberal/conservative is implementing liberal/conservative policy, then they label it as ‘ideological’, but when a leftist/‘progressive’ is implementing leftist/‘progressive’ policy, then it is labelled ‘pragmatic’ and ‘science-based’. They are able to get away with this lie because the left have largely wrestled control of academia, and a facade of neutrality can be applied to what is thoroughly ideological.

Note also that in denouncing the Abbott policy as ‘ideological’ Turnbull is outing himself as not only a non-conservative, but also a non-liberal. The leftist media though, will continue to run the deceptive line that Turnbull and his allies are liberal and Abbott is conservative.

Ominously, Turnbull has indicated a willingness to borrow billions of extra dollars to implement this policy, and there are suggestions by his leftist media allies that he will attempt to place these borrowings ‘off-budget‘ (by fraudulently claiming they are sound investments rather than spending). This is precisely the deceptive accounting method that was used with the white elephant NBN, a Labor disaster that Turnbull failed to remedy as Communications Minister.

Turnbull has also canvassed the use of ‘value capture’, where the rights to future land tax revenues are securitised and sold to investors to raise the necessary capital, the idea being that adjacent land values would rise to cover the costs. This is merely a disguised form of government debt, and has no relationship whatsoever with organic market supply and demand. Turnbull though, will attempt to deceive Liberals, and the broader public, with platitudes about this being “innovative”, rational, pro-growth economics.

In reality, these projects represent ‘smart city’ social engineering, and will be economically damaging. Firstly there is the opportunity cost. Redirecting capital into ideological urban rail projects means that capital is unavailable for efficient, growth-maximising projects that would deliver far greater increases in tax revenue.

Secondly, this provides yet another perverse incentive for governments to keep suburban property prices artificially high using crippling building restrictions at the suburban fringe. There are no guarantees that train and tram lines will themselves increase land values, as is suggested. Elevated rail lines produce eyesores and havens for crime. It has even been publicly admitted that NIMBY-ism might be a problem, and cheap borrowings could be used to pay people off.

Labor, of course, won’t attack Turnbull on these matters because they want to pursue similar policies, and Turnbull will provide Labor with ongoing political cover in that regard.

  1. Variable-rate pay-per-km driving taxes via mandatory GPS-tracking in all vehicles

This is yet another intermediate step on the path to totalitarian ‘smart cities’. In March 2014, the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott was lobbied to accept this as policy by the so-called ‘Productivity Commission’, which is yet another technocratic front group pushing the “smart city” agenda under the guise of “boosting productivity”.

Prime Minister Abbott rejected the plan, saying:

”I understand that there is some suggestion in a report that might be released today about putting GPS equipment into every car…That certainly is a novel suggestion by Australian standards and it’s not something that this government is considering.”

Turnbull has changed that policy and now has one of his acolytes and ideological fellow-travelers, Paul Fletcher, the MP for Bradfield, working on it.

gps-tracking-car-taxIt should be noted that fuel excise taxes are already an efficient means of achieving a ‘user pays’ system without putting in place the infrastructure of a totalitarian state. Given the ‘Productivity Commission’ also endorses further increasing our spiraling national debt to fund projects like this, it is clear that this shadowy organisation isn’t really about sound economic policy.

This GPS-tracking tax system will be used to enforce congestion taxes to pull more cars off the road, and raise the necessary funds, to further the ‘smart city’ agenda. The basic equation goes something like this:

Neglect Car-Based Road Infrastructure + Increase Population via Immigration = Deliberately Engineered Congestion => Heavily Tax that Congestion = Effectively force people to give up cars and move into inner-urban apartments and take the tram or Uber (or, eventually, a driverless mini-car) to work.

This will, of course, reduce traffic congestion in the same way that euthanasia reduces the cost of aged care.

The History of ‘Cities’ Policy in Australia

In 1968, federal Opposition Leader Gough Whitlam announced a policy to create a ‘Department of Urban Affairs’, a novel concept at the time. In 1971 Whitlam changed the proposed name to ‘Department of Housing, Urban Affairs and Regional Development‘ to conceal his city-centric, elitist agenda.

Responding to Whitlam, Liberal Prime Minister Billy McMahon set up a ‘National Urban and Regional Development Authority (NURDA)’ in October 1972, which Whitlam called “belated and inadequate”. When he came to power two months later, Whitlam decided the new department would be titled ‘Department of Urban and Regional Development’, and NURDA was converted into a ‘Cities Commission’ within the department.

Upon coming to power in 1975, the Fraser Liberal-National Government abolished the department.

The Hawke-Keating era saw the re-establishment of federal involvement in ‘cities’ policy, with programs like ‘Building Better Cities‘, AMCORD and ‘Green Street‘. Keating also established a ‘Department of Housing and Regional Development’, which produced papers titled ‘Green Cities’, ‘Urban Public Transport Futures’ and ‘Smart Planning, Not Sprawl’ among others . Further, it was Keating who adopted the ‘Agenda 21’ program, a 300-page United Nations document that advocates similar policies as necessary for ‘sustainable development’, a concept based on bogus ‘green’ ideology and ‘global warming’ theories.

The Howard Government abolished these programs, but the Rudd-Gillard Labor years again saw the federal government pushing ‘smart cities’. A ‘Major Cities Unit’ was created to drive urban policy and publish an annual ‘State of Australian Cities’ report. A ‘National Urban Policy‘ was also produced.

In 2013 new Prime Minister Tony Abbott implemented traditional Liberal-National policy by abolishing the ‘Major Cities Unit’ (on his first day in office, no less) and related initiatives. Further, he explicitly refused to provide federal funds for urban rail projects (other than through the asset recycling program).

In creating this ministry, and pushing this agenda, Turnbull is positioning himself to the left of even Malcolm Fraser. This is something Turnbull has done before. In his 1988 book ‘The Spycatcher Trial‘, Turnbull heaps praise upon Gough Whitlam, the initiator of the federal cities agenda, saying he is a “living legend” and “much-loved elder statesman” who: “…compares so favourably to his drab successor, the Liberal Malcolm Fraser…”.1

It should also be noted that, on the 25th of September 2015, just 11 days after the knifing of Tony Abbott, the Turnbull Government adopted an updated version of Agenda 21, titled ‘Agenda 2030’. One might wonder what Tony Abbott’s attitude to adopting ‘Agenda 2030’ was prior to his political assassination.

Academics Cited by Turnbull

The academic most cited by Turnbull, with regard to cities, is Edward Glaeser, a Professor at Harvard University in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Glaeser openly argues:

  • Against funding new highways and freeways.
  • In favour of higher petrol prices.
  • In favour of tilting the benefits of the tax system away from suburbanites and toward inner-urban high-rise residents.
  • In favour of pro-density zoning laws.

Glaeser doesn’t hide the fact that he wants to discourage so-called “sprawl” and encourage urban high-rise. Tellingly, he admits sprawl is more consistent with liberalism and freedom, but still opposes it (that is, for the masses, but not for himself, as you’ll see).

One of Glaeser’s primary justifications is, of course, combating ‘climate change’, and he says suburbanisation is an ‘ecological disaster’. He even opposes inner-urban green spaces and heritage listings, on the basis that they undermine density. High-density living, he says, produces an average of 40% less carbon emissions than suburban and rural living.

So where does Glaeser himself live?

In a 2-million-dollar, 5-bedroom luxury mansion (pictured below), on a 6.5 acre block, in the affluent Massachusetts town of Weston, with his wife Nancy, and several children, of course.


How lovely.

Malcolm Turnbull himself though, outdoes Glaeser, with his 1,940-square-metre waterfront mansion in Point Piper, Sydney, estimated to be worth around $50 million. Not to mention his 1,000-hectare farm in the Hunter Valley, and no doubt many other properties.

It seems those tiny high-rise units are just for the poor little plebs. As Glaeser himself says “there’s a lot to like about urban poverty”. As long as he’s not the one experiencing it, of course.

Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute (a free-market think tank), has exposed Glaeser as a charlatan, saying:

“…Glaeser is on the wrong side of a debate between those who believe in mobility vs. those who want the government to favor smart growth. Smart-growth advocates say Americans drive too much and the solution is to pack people into denser cities where they can reach destinations by transit, walking, or cycling. Smart-growth prescriptions include urban-growth boundaries and other policies to limit low-density development combined with subsidies to transit and high-density housing. Mobility advocates oppose mandates and subsidies and say that government should either spend highway user fees on highways, not transit, or get out of the way and let the private sector build new roads…”

Although Glaeser claims to believe that cities are our greatest invention, he publicly admits to wanting to shut many of them down. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, he argued that the city should not be rebuilt. He further argued that many ‘rust belt’ cities in the United States should be shut down.

Clearly the true end game has nothing to do with loving cities and wanting to improve them.

High-Density Urban Living = Entrenched Green-Left Politics

Most people are not ideological, and don’t study philosophy. Their political opinions develop as a result of their everyday experiences. The evidence clearly shows that people who live in high-density urban environments are highly susceptible to green-left politics.

For instance, at the 2012 US Presidential election, leftist Barack Obama easily won all the big cities with the highest population densities like New York City, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Seattle. Generally, American conservatives only have a chance at winning southern cities of much lower density like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Oklahoma City. Even then, the inner parts of these cities are usually still leftist strongholds.

If you look at the dense, inner parts of the five big Australian cities, they are largely controlled by Labor and the Greens. Liberals only have a chance in these areas when they lurch to the left.

Clearly, having a higher proportion of the Australian population living high-density city lifestyles will mean a more left-wing Australian electorate, and further, the decimation of the National Party. Turnbull and the left want to facilitate this, and they will use general revenues to selectively improve inner-cities, rewarding the very people who most ardently support, and vote for, the policies that cause our overall economic decline.

The Relatively Esoteric Nature of ‘Cities’ Policy

Shortly after Turnbull won the Prime Ministership, green-left Fairfax journalist Peter Hartcher wrote:

“His political identity has long been stamped “progressive” because of his liberal approach to same sex marriage, his republican approach to the constitution and his activist approach to climate change… He is constrained in moving on any of these areas. Putting party unity ahead of policy progress, Turnbull has recommitted to all of Abbott’s policies. He will make cautious, incremental change where he can, but in the meantime he needs something else to demonstrate his mastery of the future… So we see cities policy, and innovation, pressed into service in a hurry.”

Turnbull knows he is relatively boxed-in on the big ticket items that conservatives care about, so he is moving fast on a policy that he thinks most conservatives are too stupid and ignorant to understand is a core component of the left-wing policy agenda. He augments this strategy with cunning appointments and timing.

He has appointed Angus Taylor, an Abbott-supporter and perceived conservative, as the minister responsible for cities. He had previously appointed another Abbott-supporter as the relevant minister, Jamie Briggs, but Briggs was forced to resign over a (very minor) scandal. If the policy is being enunciated by a perceived ally, it is more difficult for conservatives to both discover the nefarious nature of this policy, and to criticise it. The pre-election timing could also mute conservative criticism, for fear that election losses will subsequently be blamed on conservative undermining.

If Taylor is a true conservative he will do everything possible to undermine this policy from within, perhaps by reshaping it into something more conservative-friendly via inclusion of more car-based road infrastructure that improves travel times for residents in rural areas and the outer suburbs.

Turnbull must not be allowed to engrave this agenda in legislation. His deal with the Greens on Senate voting reform is particularly worrying because it may result in a Turnbull Government with a Greens balance of power in the Senate, wiping out conservative-friendly cross-benchers. The new system also makes a future Liberal-National Senate majority essentially impossible, meaning Turnbull could ‘conservative-proof’ this agenda into legislation, much like the Rudd-Gillard Labor Government’s attempts to ‘Abbott-proof‘ their policies prior to their inevitable defeat.

‘Cities’ Policy – Admittedly Ideological

That these ‘cities’ policies are part of a leftist agenda is no conspiracy theory. Leftist outlets like The Guardian admit the ideological nature of ‘cities’ policies:

“Expressing preferences in these matters and showing enthusiasm for one mode over another does tend to signal ideologically where you stand – and what kind of city you imagine is best. Close, dense, high-rise living? Spacious, garden suburbs? Decentralised regional cities? They’re questions of ideology and aesthetics that the new minister is going to have to come to grips with.”

Green-leftists like Elizabeth Farrelly dominate urban policy think-tanks and the ‘built environment’ departments of universities in Australia. With impunity, they will advocate these policies under the guise of neutral scholarship. Turnbull will then cite these ‘studies’ as justification for his policies.

Shortly after Turnbull took the Prime Ministership, Tony Walker of the Australian Financial Review noted that:

“His attachment to public transport – Turnbull’s selfies on trains, ferries and buses have become part of his political persona — more than likely serves a political purpose.”

Indeed it does. Turnbull’s years of endless public transport selfies act as implicit messages to the green-left elites that despite being in the Liberal Party he is nevertheless ‘one of them’, and is doing whatever he possibly can to pursue their agenda and crush the conservatives.

How often does Turnbull take a smiling selfie in front of a new freeway? Never. Indeed he has explicitly pushed anti-car rhetoric on his social media accounts.

The left-wing media praises the fact that both major parties are now pushing the same agenda, with conservatism shut out. For instance, Peter Hartcher says:

“Happily, the government and the opposition are trying to outbid each other on the ambitiousness of their cities policies.”

Meanwhile, there’s ‘barely a space on the map where the Greens (Turnbull’s new electoral teammates) aren’t proposing to run a new rail line or a new tram line, build a new station or duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate rail lines’, according to Melbourne urbanist Alan Davies.

In order to stop this nefarious agenda, conservatives must get a handle on this crucial policy area, and put forth our superior alternatives. But first, of course, we must Stop Turnbull.


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1. Turnbull, M. (1988). The Spycatcher Trial. (p. 149). London: Heinemann.