Australian Charter City

1. Establish a charter city

1.1: To establish a new city in Australia, called Turing. This city will:

  • Lie between Sydney and Canberra on a high speed rail line.
  • Be established as a university town, focusing on low-capital-cost science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
  • Have a mandated high population density (for example, 50 000 people per square kilometre).
  • Be designed from the outset to reduce surface congestion by creating subterranean roadways, which will increase surface area that is available to public space and parks
  • Be developed primarily through private investment and for private sale
  • Have slightly different immigration rules to the rest of Australia, allowing the city to grow in size, while allowing Australia to take advantage of the large number of potential immigrants that Australia turns away under current immigration rules.

A charter city is a city, built from scratch, with a set of rules that may be different to established areas. The charter city is designed to provide a way to fulfil a demand that cannot currently be met because there is too much local opposition. This opposition may be because the cultural and economic objectives the existing city and the vision for the future may not match well. For example, although it is advantageous to have high density cities, local opposition of current inhabitants of existing cities makes achieving that density difficult. The charter of the city will encourage long term design decisions, ensuring the success of the city in terms of development pace and quality of life.

2. A university city

The Science Party has a vision for creating a brand new city which aims to be relevant to the modern world. This charter city which will be a university town. The university will initially specialise in low-capital-cost areas such as computer science and mathematics. With time, the University will have an institute to dedicated to energy research, whose aim is to develop super-low-cost and lower environmental impact sources of energy, health/life extension research and agricultural research.

The creation of a technologically focused university will also drive the establishment of Australia’s own version of the ‘Silicon Valley’, to which established technology companies can move and new technology companies can start up. Such a city will have advantages for technology companies, such as easy access to students and graduates of the local university, as well as cheaper rental costs. The local university will provide education to both Australian permanent residents (using the HECS system) and international students. International students can use degrees in their respective areas to continue to stay in Australia to gain employment in technology related fields in this charter city.  The city will aim to be a hub of innovation where business people and expert technologists can easily migrate, live and produce the new companies that will take most advantage of the growth in the technology sector.

3. Population density

Our current capital cities were established in times when horse drawn carts were the only available transportation other than walking, and when building above 6-storeys high was difficult given the building technology of the time. Since then, technological and cultural changes have resulted in a situation where the currently built cities are incapable of delivering to the requirements of individual and national economic desires.

In modern times, improvements in transportation, logistics and waste management technologies (‘city-management technology’) have led to the ability to have incredibly dense cities. At the same time, people have changed their mode of work, from needing large spaces in an agriculturally based economy, to a manufacturing economy which requires much less space per worker, to a knowledge worker based economy which requires even less space. The modern Australian economy is quickly becoming a knowledge and hospitality based economy. Both the developments in city-management technology and the change in the type of work that most people perform has lead to increasing demand for higher density cities. Many people desire to live in a higher density city in Australia, but there is strong resistance to transforming our existing capital cities to higher densities. This resistance understandably comes from current residents resisting moves to increase density in areas central to the major cities.

High density cities provide many benefits to their inhabitants. High density cities are more efficient. Distances needed to travel to work, school and leisure activities are markedly reduced. They provide greater opportunities for walking and bike riding, rather than relying on driving, thereby improving the health of their inhabitants. High density cities have a higher density of services, entertainment, and restaurants than low density cities. This means that greater variety is available to the inhabitants of the city, and hence quality of life improves. High density cities also have a higher density of people of a variety of skills, and therefore also provide more regular opportunities to develop new technologies, and have been shown to be more productive per capita. The following articles provide further reading on this topic:

The city will aim to have a population density of 50 000 people per square kilometre. This is approximately 25 times the current density of Sydney. To achieve this density in a sustainable, enjoyable way, the city will be located in non-developed land between Sydney and Canberra, thereby reducing the impact on existing inhabitants who may not wish to live in a very dense area. When new blocks are developed, it will be a requirement of development that the total floor area of the building results in a net population density of at least 40 000 and not more than 60 000 when taking into account the combination of adjoining parkland/streets and purchased land. Buildings of heights approximately 30 storeys can achieve this density while allowing approximately 70% of land area to be open space.

Liveability will be achieved by turning non-building open space into footpaths, bike paths and park areas. Buildings will be placed in North-South running rows to ensure that the majority of apartments receive direct sunlight on their windows for at least 2 hours in the day, averaged over the year. The city will aim to reach a population of 5 000 000 and will fit within a 10km x 10km square. A 20km x 20km area will be needed around the city to ensure a green band and to provide farmland for fresh vegetables which can be hard to transport over long distances.

To achieve the aims of the city, a critical mass of apartments must be built to sustain continued expansion. Construction cannot take place until apartments for at least, say, buildings for 50 000 inhabitants have been committed to by construction companies.

4. Immigration to the city

The charter city will have slightly different immigration requirements to the rest of Australia, allowing easy migration with lower barriers to gaining residency in the city. This will give an easier avenue to migrants who may just miss out on the requirements for residency in the rest of Australia. Many of the people who would like to migrate but do not fulfil all requirements are people who have high levels of education. This will facilitate the migration of many types of workers to the city. Decreasing the barriers to working in such a city will give the city a truly international feel, drawing on the skills and knowledge of workers from all over the world.

The special visas that allow residency to the city do not afford recipients any additional immigration rights into the rest of Australia. People holding these special visas must hold down a regular job in the city, attend regular education in the city or report regularly to an immigration office in the city. Residents on these visa will be allowed regular tourist passes to leave the city and visit other areas in the country.

5. Transportation in the city

Below street level will be a network of 2 levels of tunnels (1 level moving east-west and one moving north-south) used by high-speed driverless personal transport vehicles, which will seat between 2 and 4 people. These subterranean roadways will be used to transport people across the city quickly and efficiently, without the need to stop or slow down. The mean travel distance within the city will be 5km if individuals do not choose to live close to their workplace (it is expected that the high density of the city and mixed use development will allow people to move closer to their place of employment). Travelling at 50km per hour, an average commute will take approximately 6 mins. These personal transport vehicles will allow for a new type of taxi company: one in which there are no taxi drivers. Multiple taxi companies can exist to provide competition for fares and quality of service.

These automated roadways can also provide freight within the city between businesses and to individuals. The freight will not require a human occupant, and hence will reduce freight costs within the city greatly.

6. Governance of the city

The city will be a separate territory, with its own territorial government which performs local government policy in the same way that Canberra does. The local government will be unified across the whole city to ensure that planning within the city takes into account the impact on the entirety of the city.

7. Private development of the city

The majority of the city will be built by private enterprise, lured by free or very cheap land that will have a guaranteed high density population with high levels of developmental freedom. It is intended that the majority of apartments be owned by a single company (not strata owned) and units will be rented. This will greatly increase development management efficiency.

8. Financing the city

A new type of company arrangement (named a Building Company) will be created that will give shareholders a fractional ownership to a particular building. The company cannot use this money for development beyond the bounds of the are specified in the contract (namely the grounds of the specified building).

The distribution (dividends) from such building companies can be tax-free for the amount that the individual who owns the building contract pays in their personal rent (up to a limit of $50 000, increasing with time). That is, if a person collects the equivalent of $20 000 per year in distributions from their Building Company shares, they can use that $20 000 to pay their own personal rent without attracting income tax on that $20 000. However, if a person collects $100 000 in rental distributions from the Building Company and the individual only pays $30 000 in rent per year for their personal home, the maximum amount that they can claim tax free is $30 000.

This tax arrangement will allow individuals to buy a share of property within the city to guarantee that they will, in the future, be able to pay their rent, whatever market conditions are. This will be an attractive investment to superannuation schemes and the elderly, for whom certainty in being able to afford accommodation after retirement is a high priority. It will also allow individuals who are not currently rich enough to buy a whole dwelling to buy the equivalent of a fraction of a dwelling and not overload themselves with debt.

These Building Companies will not be able to borrow capital (that is, gearing will not be allowed). Individuals who buy shares in the Building Company will be allowed to borrow to finance their purchase. Each building company should clearly report the building location, the number of rooms, floor space and tenancy proportion and rental income to the regulator. Building companies will not attract a capital gains tax exemption. Holding companies may buy shares across multiple Building Companies. They can aggregate these shares to give shareholders of the holding company a diversified portfolio of properties. Shareholders of the holding company will also be able to attain the tax advantages for the element of the holding company’s distribution which is not related to capital gains (that is, any element of the income which is related to rental returns).

This new type of company will give freedom to people to move when they wish to move without having to deal with the costs, hassle and risks of property acquisition and transferral. It will guarantee the ability to live in housing regardless of rental price gyrations. It will allow companies that build apartments to build the building, then IPO or transfer the building to another holding company, freeing up capital for the building company to build more buildings quickly without excessive risk. The Building Company system will also give the market an easy indicator as to the value of the property market, as these shares can be publicly traded. This will allow rents and property valuations to align more efficiently, and allow the market to know if there is significant demand or otherwise for new buildings. Key to understanding this demand is the prohibition of leverage in both holding companies and Building Companies. This company type will be allowed in all state and cities in Australia, helping to finance building construction across the country.