Part of the 14 Cities series:
“(The bush) was biding its time with a terrible ageless watchfulness, waiting for a far-off end, watching the myriad intruding white men.”
D.H. Lawrence, Kangaroo (1923)
A century later that end seemed not so far-off, and it was becoming abundantly clear that the interior would soon be as uninhabitable as the ocean on the other sides of Australia’s great cities.
As bushfires ravaged the land through the summer months and dust-storms and freak weather events characterised the winter, the cities clinging to Australia’s coastline could increasingly be seen as a string of pearls tracing the outline of a nation that also seemed a concept of another time.
The Australian Republic had been finally achieved in 2019, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, also enabling the deletion of the state governments. Then Darwin was ‘sold’ to the Chinese in 2032, becoming a thriving special economic zone. Finally, Canberra lies effectively deserted, only the staff of Prime Minister Wong remaining, as if the captain of a sinking ship. Much of the interior is similarly devoid of humans.
The large cities realised they were effectively working most successfully as city-states, and after lacing a high-speed rail network around the entire perimeter of the island-continent, they declared themselves to be city-states formally, islands in an archipelago of conurbations."
Notes: I figure you can't go far wrong if you quote Lawrence. Anyway, those watching the current healthcare 'debates' unfold in Australia will be aware of the issues around the multiple tiers of governance (also referred to here a while ago). The dust-storm was a recent occurrence, of course. Some faint echoes here of the last chapter of Elizabeth Farrelly's book Blubberland. As well as the city-state idea - with the archipelago line nicked from Philip Goad - another thinly-veiled plea for high-speed rail.