Megatrends and SEQ regional plan consultation

Brisbane CBD in 2016 - what megatrends will reshape it?

Brisbane CBD in 2016 – what will it look like in 2041?  Photo: Chris Walker

Megatrends which could have major impacts on south east Queensland over the next few decades should be taken into account when preparing the new regional plan. But has the government done a good job of picking and dealing with megatrends?

If we have learnt anything over the last few decades it’s that governments don’t always plan wisely, so its crucial that people watch what they do and have a say.

Redlanders have two opportunities to “talk to a planner” about the draft SEQ Regional Plan: Shaping SEQ.

The ShapingSEQ project team will be at the Pacific Resort Cleveland 29 November (from 4 pm to 7 pm) and then at Capalaba Place Hall Wednesday 7 December (from 10am to 1pm) to answer questions about the Plan.  People are asked to register as attendees before the sessions and come with prepared questions.  For more information visit the Department’s web site.

The draft Plan canvasses megatrends that it (the Plan) asserts will “fundamentally influence our future”.  Of some concern is that the megatrends are presented as stand alone matters that will be dealt with in a coherent manner.  It is almost certain the identified megatrends will combine in unforeseen ways to deliver a complex and fast changing planning environment.


An example of uncertainty is how the impacts of megatrends arise and combine.  The recent  Presidential elections in the United States being a case in point. On the basis of Donald Trump’s election commitments the megatrends climate change, disaster resilience, and global connectedness will have new settings. The iidentified (and other) megatrends will probably combine and interact in ways that are unpredictable.

Yet there are no planning benchmarks on which to base a planning response.

By way of example, a couple of megatrends are discussed briefly below.

Increased urbanisation

As the technological era accelerates with increases to associated living costs regarding services and commodities, society will need to increase its affluence to maintain its social development trajectories.  As manufacturing employment declines and service industries try to take up the slack to increase employment opportunities, living cost will need to increase to pay for this change in employment numbers and structure.

Marginalities in the modes of production and transport of goods and services support more aggregated urban markets. The contention that urbanisation will increase to afford the consumer with increased earnings for their labour/products seems consistent with all economic development plan projections. Just a simple extrapolation of worldwide migration patterns supports the fact that immigrants prefer urban centres rather than resource extraction and/or rural agricultural centres.  Presently, these non-urban centres see their own progeny contributing to this urban drift in most regions of the world.   The SEQ situation appears consistent with these trends.

Clearly increased urbanisation is a real and increasing trend in economic planning. As extraction, agricultural and manufacturing production becomes more mechanised and automated this trend’s impacts can become better quantified and detailed. There is no evidence that SEQ can expect to present a different outcome. Hence, SEQ’s economical development will continue to urbanise. This megatrend is genuine.

New technologies

New technologies represent one of the most influential factors for urban planners to sort out. The enforced redundancy caused by modern technologies upon the employment prospects of urban regions can see the best plans becoming marginalised because planning cycles become too short to affect desired outcomes.

Labour will be less needed as time passes. Education and community medicine may be the exception. Yet the strong institutional structures in these industries support increasing automation and labour saving innovation as well.

Although changing, extractive industries supporting employment prospects in SEQ manufacturing are likely to decline as production cost rise and alternative offshore manufacturing venues eventuate.  The “Plan’s” approach to this situation suggests altering SEQ training institutions to see ahead.  Decreasing production employment is shifting to alternative service employment opportunities. Initially, service industries such as health care, education, community services etc will be able to offer more employment but these jobs will become more mechanised and automated as well and thereby adversely impacting on community employment prospects.

Additionally, should some global event, increased warfare, severe climatic change [drought], international trade disruption, pandemics or a combination of any of these factors surface, it can be expected that changes to training institutions will be of little long term benefit. The singularity of cause and effect factors presented with these “megatrends” as too simplistic.

The intellect involved in identifying the megatrends surely understood the inter-connective nature of these megatrends. Yet the “Plan” deals with each mega-trend as if each is mutually exclusive, why?  Arguably the Plan identified this megatrend correctly but it offers only a contemporary solution, which is not likely to materialise.

For SEQ region to benefit from technological advances will require an educated immigrant program, which is not politically acceptable presently.   Arguably the “plan” deals with technical advancement in a disingenuous fashion.

Make a submission

Submissions must be provided to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning in writing and include the following information for all submitters:

• first and last names
• addresses (home or business)
• signatures (unless lodged electronically).

Submissions may be lodged several ways:

• Online: Lodge your submission(External link)
• Email: link)
• Post: Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan Review Feedback, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, PO Box 15009, City East QLD 4000.

Collating a submission

Perhaps some people or groups would like to make one liner of specific issue submissions and make these available to other people or organisations.  On this premise, Redlands2030 invites comments to this and other posts which might be collated into a coverall submission.  This submission will be published and anyone will be able to submit all or part of the collated submission for input to ShapingSEQ.

To support a collated submission add a comment to this or the related posts (noting some posts have been published e.g. New SEQ Regional Plan Developed in a Vacuum and more will follow).


Redlands2030  – 22 November 2016

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email

2 thoughts on “Megatrends and SEQ regional plan consultation

  1. Bravo to the Author. Nailed it! I am actually engaging with specialists and doing 5D modelling to assess manage and monitor potential impacts and contingency planning in economic management of megatrends and changing market variables. This is becoming established pracgice elsewhere and it is disturbing to discover an absence of that approach here. It exposes a lot of weaknesses, opportunities and flawed thinking that might go unnoticed otherwise.

    One final note to Planning workshop attendees. Don’t expect a forum led by a presenter. On this occasion tables of 1-2 planners are made available to address your concerns individually, and are collectively noted for Draft Plan amendments and recommendations. It was strongly emphasised to me that without Submissions to support requested changes, I couldn’t expect any workshop exchanges to make a difference.

    An allowance of 10-15 mins is made available per person, but don’t let this restrict you in any way. I was well entertained in challenging the two planners assigned to me, who completed 2 foolscap pages of unanswered notes and enquiries during our exchange. I requested a copy of the same for reference as a “working copy” for ongoing development and investigation, and caused them pause because this was a foreign protocol for them. In the end, they said they would try and duly noted my request on their record. I recommend you all do the same to provide a thread of continuity and continuous improvement on any issue being reviewed, debated or questioned as an area of concern. After more than an hour (probably closer to 2) my new Planning acquaintances were anxious to prolong the association and the coordinator, after a review of our notes, admitted that despite falling outside designated processing times, the time invested and issues being raised were conducive to improvement. So my advice to you, is to appreciate the worth of your own time and investment. Make the most of the opportunity, and take as much time as you need to grasp the situation and ascertain what you have to do, with what appropriate language and assistance (which you should be sure to ask for too) in order to protect the interests that inspired you to attend in the first place.

    These people, and this process, is allegedly in service to you, the tax payers and communities financing the process. So take advantage of it as you are due, and don’t apologise for taking advantage of any arrangement if it is an entitlement to you as your due. Its far worse to fail to make the attempt, and allow events to overtake you without your input or knowledge.

  2. The Shaping SEQ looks to have dropped the ball on the Non urban and environmental/ natural resource side of regional planning. Koalas barely rate.

    Seems we are to build more on an inadequate foundation of green infrastructure and dont make the development plan (i.e. Shaping SEQ) account for externalities like a degraded bay, lost habitat, species extinction, loss of social amenity, degraded livability and so on.

    No mention of a regional carrying capacity!

    In truth the region could hold many millions more…indeed that is the trend…but at what living standard? Who wants to live in that scenario.

    Oh and what happened to the Queensland Plan and Anna Blighs regionalisation strategy where half the SEQ growth would be directed out of SEQ. Forgotten, too hard, or not suiting the ambitions of the development fraternity

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