The discussion over the last week in Melbourne is part of a broader set of issues to do with urban economics. That field has been revitalised in the past decade and a half due mainly to the efforts of Ed Glaeser. The New York Times has a write-up on him this week: "Home Economics - New York Times"
I had the pleasure of interacting with Glaeser on the Prime Minister's Home Ownership Taskforce back in 2003. And for that brief period of time he thought a little about Australian cities.
That NYT article is interesting for its discussion of the benefits and costs of commuting. Worth the read.