The City Leaders Forum is a joint initiative between Griffith University and YP Gold Coast showcasing the people in our city, who are driving innovation and change within the business community.

Q&A with Paul Burton

What do you love about the Gold Coast?
It’s so different to any of the cities I grew up in or visited when I lived in Europe. For a while I thought the Gold Coast should try to be more like some of those old cities, but of course it shouldn’t. The Gold Coast is a great city in its own right and is framed by spectacular natural environments that most other cities would give their right arm for.

Do you think the Gold Coast has potential to become a global city? If so, what is holding us back right now?
Look, I’m an academic, we like our definitions and so I think about what it means to be a global city. Broadly speaking it refers to big cities that are part of a global network of centres of economic power and influence. Could the Gold Coast become one of these cities…anything is possible. But should it aspire to become one? I’m not so sure because becoming a global city often comes at a price: housing becomes seriously expensive, congestion can become intolerable and the environment may be damaged beyond repair. The more important question is: can we get bigger and better without losing the things that we all love about the city?

In your travels, what have you seen done in other cities that you believe could work well on the Gold Coast?
My favourite cities are full of great places, places where walking around is a pleasure and where you can get between these places easily without a car. When you visit great cities you buy a travel card, you don’t rent a car.

What is your grand vision for the Gold Coast? What do you want it to look like in 20 years?
If we insist on the highest standards of good urban design and planning, our city won’t look dramatically different in twenty years’ time. It will be a nicer place full of nicer places and more of us will live here, but we will have grown smartly and thoughtfully.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Gold Coast? And do you have a solution?
Taking a relatively short-term view of what we need to do fix our current problems, which can limit our capacity to grow smartly in the long term. We can do more to support our politicians in taking a longer term view.

What advice would you give today’s young professionals and future leaders of the city?
Take a long view, but think seriously about what you do today because it will shape that future. Other than that, don’t pay too much attention to us oldies!
Paul Burton.…probably in the last quarter of my life, but sometimes feel I’m still 21

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