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7 - Crises of Confidence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2022

Margaret Cook
Affiliation:
University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Lionel Frost
Affiliation:
Monash University, Victoria
Andrea Gaynor
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia, Perth
Jenny Gregory
Affiliation:
University of Western Australia, Perth
Ruth A. Morgan
Affiliation:
Australian National University, Canberra
Martin Shanahan
Affiliation:
University of South Australia
Peter Spearritt
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

In the wake of the ‘golden age’ of economic growth in the early 1970s, public provision of urban infrastructure came under the close scrutiny of governments seeking to reduce the size of their bureaucracies in the face of expanding budgets, rising prices, and increasing unemployment. Australian governments and water utilities followed the UK and USA by introducing price mechanisms to attain more efficient water use. This coincided with severe droughts that affected urban water supplies and led state governments to impose residential water restrictions, save for Brisbane, where catastrophic floods in 1974 reminded residents of their vulnerability to the elements. Growing concern for the environment, as well as the implications of environmental degradation for human health, meant that the sights, smells, and sounds of the Australian suburbs were on the eve of change. The use of suburban waterways as drains for industrial and domestic waste would no longer be tolerated, as local residents campaigned to protect built and natural environments from pollution and development projects. Such health and ecological concerns collided with the neoliberal reform agenda of the 1990s, when newly restructured water utilities faced a series of crises in their provision of water and disposal of wastes.

Type
Chapter
Information
Cities in a Sunburnt Country
Water and the Making of Urban Australia
, pp. 163 - 197
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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