Remaking the border: the proposed border expansion of Canberra in the 1960–70s revisited in the planning and development context of the 21st century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the 1960–70s, there was a proposal to expand the administrative border of
Canberra into the neighbouring state New South Wales to accommodate
long-term population growth and urban development. However, this attempt
failed ultimately. This study investigates this ‘remaking’ of the border, and
revisits the same issue in the planning and development context of the
twenty-first century. It employs three conceptual constructs – ‘bordering’,
‘debording’, and ‘rebordering’ – to draw insights into the nexus between the
border’s (re)making, dominant planning thinking, and emerging development
process. It uses a mix of primary and secondary sources of data and
information collected from the National Archives of Australia, newspaper
clippings of The Canberra Times, interviews with planners involved, Australian
Census data, and planning literature. It finds that the border expansion
proposal was driven by a political advocacy out of a modernist technocratic
planning vision for a linear city, and was based on an over-optimistic and
mechanical population projection. However, as a highly political initiative, its
failure was doomed by political strains and changes, and local community’s
concerns. Knowing this history contributes to tackling a similar issue in
today’s paradox of a planning paradigm for compactness and sustainability
and an emerging development expansion onto the border.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


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