President’s column

Today I will be attending what is set to be an interesting Smart Cities Summit focused on liveable cities and city deals, and on exploring the link between transport infrastructure and urban development in the innovative financing and value capture of infrastructure. This summit will be crucial to the development of a cities policy ahead of a Federal election this year.

ALGA welcomes the Government's recognition of the importance of a cities policy in Australia's economic future and the commitment to have all three levels of government collaborate. In this respect it is vital that both the Commonwealth and states actively and collaboratively engage with local government as a crucial stakeholder and as the third sphere of government. 

The work required to deliver a cities policy is a logical extension to the work of many councils in local and regional economic development. On a daily basis, councils are harnessing the economic, environmental, social and cultural resources of their regions to deliver a range of sustainable outcomes that meet the unique needs of their community.

The Government will raise the issue of city deals for discussion at the summit based on the UK City Deals model where a deal focused on productivity and growth, particularly through agreed infrastructure investments, is agreed by the UK Government and groups of councils. This will be an interesting concept to explore and ALGA is keen to work with the Government in fully exploring potential applications in the Australian context.  

The summit will also flag the importance of value capture as an opportunity to meet the gap between infrastructure needs and the fiscal capacity of governments, and this is something that councils already do in part. For example, development contributions under section 94 of the Environment and Planning Assessment Act by jurisdictions in NSW ensure that those who benefit from infrastructure contribute to their cost.

In both cases of city deals and value capture, it will be critical that all three levels of government work together, not just in the cities but more broadly across Australia, if we are to achieve the ultimate objective of generating jobs and economic growth for the benefit of all Australians.


Mayor Troy Pickard
ALGA President