Talks on Darwin deal

The Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher was in Darwin this week to discuss a "City Deal" for the Northern Territory capital.

Mr Fletcher said the deal involved Federal, State and Local Government working together. He hoped it would be finalised by the end of this year.

The Minister met with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner and other community leaders, including the Lord Mayor of Darwin Kon Vatskalis.

Mayor Vatskalis told local radio that the meeting went very well. "[The Minister} recognised the commitment of how well we work together and he said that we can get it signed by the end of year. But I pushed him, I'm going to Canberra next week I want it pushed forward. Let's get it signed in six months," Mr Vatskalis said. 

"The CDU [Charles Darwin University] campus is part of my agenda. Revitalising the city, making it more green and walkable. Clearing the esplanade so you can see the ocean, not a wall of trees and the smart lighting to make the city safer is all part of my agenda," he said.

Mr Fletcher told local media: "This is where three levels of government come together to agree on objective. This is about setting mutually agreed directions that we can be pursuing collectively for five or ten years. So it is important that we agree what goes into the City Deal and what the initiatives are going to be for each level of government to commit to. We are discussing tourism, the relocation of the CDU campus and I want to hear from the community leaders to hear what they feel should be considered."

In a speech to CEDA in Sydney on Tuesday Mr Fletcher said, “since the 2016 election we have entered into City Deals with Townsville and Launceston. We have also committed to deals for Hobart, Geelong and Darwin.” A City Deal was also recently approved for Western Sydney and one is in negotiation for SEQ (University Campus, Moreton Bay).

The City Deals outline how the three levels of governments will work together to achieve better outcomes across these areas:

  • Jobs and skills
  • Infrastructure and Investment
  • Liveability and Sustainability
  • Innovation and Digital Opportunities
  • Housing
  • Governance, Planning and Regulation.

The Western Sydney deal centres around a new airport to be built at Badgerys Creek and a north-south rail line. The Launceston deal involves shifting the University of Tasmania campus to the centre of the city and the Townsville deal features the construction of a new 25,000-seat football stadium and associated infrastructure upgrades. The Townsville City Council last week issued development approval for major construction to commence on the stadium, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill told local media: “The stadium will revitalise the CBD and has already helped to attract the city's first high-end hotel in decades, which will be built next door. Townsville is already seeing the economic benefits from the stadium and they will only increase as more jobs come online as construction ramps up."

An ALGA analysis of three of the City Deals states: “The City Deals commit the three levels of government to work together very closely and with other key business and community sector organisations, such as with formalising partnerships and establishing new governance models.

“In the case of the Western Sydney City Deal, five of the Councils and Blacktown City Council, which is not a signatory, have agreed to formalise a planning partnership agreement.  Northern Tasmania Councils, though also not signatories, will have involvement in the Launceston City Deal with the development of a Regional Economic Development Strategy.”