New approach needed for cities

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities has this week tabled its report on the development of cities.

The report, titled Building Up and Moving Out, calls for the development of a national plan of settlement, providing a national vision for our cities and regions across the next fifty years.

Committee Chair John Alexander says population growth, urbanisation, the ageing of the population, and the transformation of the economy towards service- and knowledge-based industries are causing profound changes in Australia’s urban and regional landscapes.

“These are big challenges, and they require a new understanding of our cities and their relationship with surrounding regions,” Mr Alexander said.

“Managing these challenges requires a national vision—a national plan of settlement.”

To direct this process, the report also recommends the creation of a Minister for Cities and National Settlement, with responsibility for the oversight of the national plan of settlement and housing, and a National Chief Planner, to provide independent expert advice on urban and regional planning and development.

The report makes 37 recommendations addressing issues at a national, regional and local level across a broad range of subjects. Recommendations relating to local government include:

  • 4.97   The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a framework for the development of cities and regions outside the major metropolitan centres, based on the hub-and-spoke concept, within the context of a national planning framework. These Regional Plans would:
    • Explore options for local action and investment, including local government leadership in infrastructure and investment
  • 8.78   The Committee recommends that the Prime Minister appoint a senior Minister with responsibility for housing to:
  • monitor housing affordability issues and lead a joint federal, state and local government response;
  • 9.82   The Committee recommends that the Australian Government offer additional funding and technical support to local governments by extending the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and the Future Ready Incubation Package indefinitely. The Committee also recommends that the Future Ready Incubation Package specifically address local governments’ capacity to effectively and efficiently procure smart cities technology.
  • A COAG Cities & Regional Development Ministerial Council involving representation by state and territory treasurers, housing ministers and planning ministers, and local government
  • 11.81 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in pursuit of a sustained, coordinated, holistic vision for the development of Australia’s cities and regions, create:

A copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’ website or from the secretariat on (02) 6277 2352.