This was the title of an article that appeared in the Townsville Bulletin last week written by journalist Shari Tagliabue.
In her article Ms Tagliabue bemoaned the ugliness of many new developments and said that many of them were not needed. They had been built or were being built to replace facilities that were perfectly adequate, and in many cases the new ones were less attractive and user-friendly than the ones they were replacing.
The main cause of this phenomenon, she said, is that an easy way for politicians to get the big picture opportunity is to claim success for some new development.
An example Ms Tagliabue gave in her article was the plan to build a new Entertainment and Convention Centre. The current one seems perfectly fine to most people in Townsville, but we are told that it is holding Townsville back and we need 150 million dollars or so to build a new one. Just think of all the media interviews and photo opportunities that will be generated in the battle to secure funding!
MS Tagliabue reminded us also of the new Railway station, the new ferry terminal, the new Mall and the V8 race track.
We need to take Ms Tagliabue’s analysis further because not only is the future ugly – it is also unsustainable. The problem with the current system is that no one is held to account for the actual success or not of these developments. Will the new Convention Centre bring all the business that its promoters claim for it? Will the new Mall bring people back into the city?
By the time these developments have been completed, the promoters and developers will have moved on and there will be a new generation of politicians making promises and seeking photo opportunities.
This all works OK while the economy keeps growing and increasing tax revenues can cover the cost of the white elephants that we accumulate. However if the bubble bursts as it almost did in 2008, then we may well be regretting many of these developments way into the future.