Sponge Cities and Small Towns: a new economic partnership


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Observers of the spatial pattern of population change and economic growth in Australia have noted a marked differentiation between the performance of Australia's major metropolitan areas and the rest of the nation (Murphy and Watson 1995, Pritchard and McManus 2000). The application of common indicators such as; population growth, housing construction, job creation, and income levels have consistently demonstrated that the five major metropolitan centres have generally'outperformed'the rest of Australia (O'Connor, Stimson and Daly 2001). These indicators have reinforced the view that the performance of non-metropolitan Australia is'lagging behind'that of the major cities. Australia's metropolitan areas apparently stand in stark contrast to what is frequently referred to as rural and regional Australia, or more pejoratively by the media as simply'the bush'. This notion of a gulf or a divide between those places where there is growth and those where there is stagnation or decline has reinforced stereotypical images. Such images have never been as starkly epitomized as in former Australian Prime Minister Keating's remark that'you are either living in Sydney or camping out', (quoted in the Catholic Weekly 1 March 2005).
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