The multi-function Polis 1987-97: an international failure or innovative local project?




Parker, Paul

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The Multi-function Polis (MFP) has created debate and divided opinions since it was first proposed by Japan’s Minister for International Trade and Industry in 1987. The announcement of its official demise by the South Australian Premier in August 1997 following the termination of federal funding in 1996 appeared to complete the story. However, opinions remain divided as to whether the project was a A$100 million waste of taxpayers money or a valuable initiative to promote urban redevelopment in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. This paper reviews the debate by recognising the changing roles of international and local actors. The interaction between international and domestic politics has received increased attention in the literature on Pacific relations and development initiatives. In its first phase, the Multifunction Polis was supported by the Japanese and Australian federal governments, but received strong local opposition. In the second phase, Japanese and Australian federal government support for the project waned, but local support grew as state and local governments promoted the project because of its potential to meet local needs. However,by 1997 the project had failed to attract large scale external investment and it was integrated into state government efforts to promote development in the core of Adelaide. This Australian case study of a Japanese proposal for a futuristic high tech city for interaction among the People of the Pacific, offers lessons for other international development initiatives.



multi-function polis, MFP, urban redevelopment.federal government, Japan, Australia, futuristic high tech city, environmental issues, social issues




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