Archive | Australia

Leading banker takes Australian politicians to task on governance, finance, infrastructure, urban prospects

Australian politicians’ ears must have been burning when bank chief Ken Henry addressed the country’s Committee for Economic Development in Canberra on Thursday, because he wasted no words in portraying the destruction – instead of construction – of a sound future they continued to guarantee.

The Unconventional economist on MacroBusiness, Leith van Onselen, wrote: “Dr Henry pulled no punches in admonishing the Government’s negligence in managing Australia’s mass immigration programme.”

Mr van Onselen also raised questions arising from Australian Productivity Commission reports, including An ageing Australia: Preparing for the future.

But migration & age were just 2 of the questions raised by Dr Henry, who chairs the National Australia Bank. He talked about the notion that endless growth was a practical proposition for Sydney & Melbourne, how every proposal for major infrastructure was drowned in political wrangling and – in the sector he knows best – how every tax reform proposal of the last decade had failed.

Below are some excerpts from his speech:

Business at odds with community

“According to our research, Australian businesses see our strong rate of population growth as a positive. …. In the broader community, there is considerably less support for a larger population. People are concerned about the impact of a growing population on traffic congestion, urban amenity, environmental sustainability & housing affordability. And they worry about our ability to sustain Australian norms of social & economic inclusion. These concerns are understandable.

“Australia’s business leaders have to accept responsibility for ensuring that strong population growth, and the investment opportunities that go with it, lift economic & social opportunity for all, without damaging the quality of the environment we pass to future generations. That means that we have to take an interest in traffic congestion, housing affordability, urban amenity & environmental amenity, including climate change mitigation & adaptation….

“If we want better access to skilled domestic workers, then we are going to have to offer those workers the prospect of better lives. If we want modern & efficient infrastructure, then we are going to have to take an interest in the design of our cities; we are going to have to take an interest in regional development; and we are going to have to take an interest in the planning of new urban centres.

“If we want less red tape & less regulation, then we are going to have to demonstrate that regulation is not necessary….

“Meanwhile, our politicians have dug themselves into deep trenches from which they fire insults designed merely to cause political embarrassment. Populism supplies the munitions. And the whole spectacle is broadcast live via multimedia, 24/7. The country that Australians want cannot even be imagined from these trenches….

“Almost every major infrastructure project announced in every Australian jurisdiction in the past 10 years has been the subject of political wrangling. In the most recent federal election campaign, no project anywhere in the nation – not one – had the shared support of the Coalition, Labor & the Greens.

“Every government proposal of the last 10 years to reform the tax system has failed.

“And the long-term fiscal, economic growth & environmental challenges identified in 4 intergenerational reports over the past 15 years?  The opportunities identified in the White paper on Australia in the Asian century? Simply ignored.

“The reform narrative of an earlier period has been buried by the language of fear & anger. It doesn’t seek to explain; rather, it seeks to confuse & frighten.

“Meanwhile, the platform burns.”

Growing Sydney & Melbourne

Dr Henry also spoke about the Australian budget & tax system, a strongly growing but aging population, climate change & energy security, and making the most of the Asian century.

“How will we fund the biggest infrastructure build in our history? And what about infrastructure planning?” he asked, before questioning the sense in adding 7 million people to the populations of Sydney & Melbourne:

“On the basis of official projections of Australia’s population growth, our governments could be calling tenders for the design of a brand new city for 2 million people every 5 years; or a brand new city the size of Sydney or Melbourne every decade; or a brand new city the size of Newcastle or Canberra every year. Every year.

“But that’s not what they are doing. Instead, they have decided that another 3 million people will be tacked onto Sydney and another 4 million onto Melbourne over the next 40 years.

“Already, both cities stand out in global assessments of housing affordability & traffic congestion.

“And even if we do manage to stuff an additional 7 million people into those cities, what are we going to do with the other 9 million who will be added to the Australian population in that same period of time? Have you ever heard a political leader addressing that question? Do you think anybody has a clue?

“At the very least, we are going to have to find radical new approaches for infrastructure planning, funding & construction. And that includes energy infrastructure, critical to our economic performance and our quality of life.

“The biggest challenge confronting the energy sector is that climate change policy in Australia is a shambles. At least 14 years ago, our political leaders were told that there was an urgent need to address the crisis in business confidence, in the energy & energy-intensive manufacturing sectors, due to the absence of credible long-term policies to address carbon abatement. It is quite extraordinary, but nevertheless true, that things are very much worse today.”

  • Dr Henry was Secretary of Australia’s Treasury Department from 2001-11, and was appointed a director of the National Australia Bank in November 2011 and chair in December 2015. From June 2011-November 2012, he was special advisor to the prime minister with responsibility for leading the development of the white paper on Australia in the Asian century. He’s a former member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Board of Taxation, the Council of Financial Regulators, the Council of Infrastructure Australia and chaired both the Howard government’s tax taskforce in 1997-98 and the Rudd government’s review of the tax system in 2008-09, and he’s governor of the organisation he was addressing above, CEDA.

Links:
23 February 2017: NAB chair Ken Henry’s full speech at CEDA
Unconventional economist on MacroBusiness, 24 February 2017: Australia can’t build its way out of population ponzi
Unconventional economist, 24 February 2017: Bigger cities are engines for inequality
Australian Productivity Commission, November 2013: An ageing Australia: Preparing for the future
Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Attribution: NAB, CEDA, MacroBusiness.

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Tracking ideas M30Mar15 – Pushing boundaries

Pushing boundaries – Australian awards

Tracking ideas is a Bob Dey Property Report section devoted to ideas on property questions such as urban strategies & design, many from overseas but with relevance to Auckland.

Pushing boundaries – Australian awards

The Urban Development Institute of Australia handed out its top awards on 20 March to the developers of projects that national president Cameron Shephard said pushed the boundaries in innovation, sustainability & affordability.

Awards for excellence:

Masterplanned development: Greater Springfield by Springfield Land Corp, Lend Lease & Mirvac (Queensland)
Residential development: Cygnia Cove by Richard Noble (WA)
Medium density housing: Esque, Mosman by HELM (NSW)
High density housing: One Central Park by Frasers Property Australia & Sekisui House Australia (NSW)
Urban renewal: Tip Top Brunswick East by Little Projects Pty Ltd (Vic)
Environmental Excellence: Cygnia Cove by Richard Noble (WA)
Affordable development: Invita Apartments stage 1 by Peet Ltd & BGC Development in joint venture (WA)
Seniors living: The Village Coorparoo by The Village Retirement Group (Qld)
President’s award: The Village Coorparoo

Links: Urban Development Institute of Australia
Greater Springfield
Cygnia Cove
Esque
One Central Park
Tip Top Brunswick East
Invita Apartments
The Village Coorparoo

Attribution: Urban Development Institute of Australia

Regular leads: Planetizen

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Australian institute says rise in land supply masks barriers

A report on urban land supply by the Urban Development Institute of Australia shows a supply boom in most of the country’s big cities, but the institute says the greater activity is masking major barriers.

Chief among those is stamp duty, which varies from state to state.

The report, released at the institute’s national congress in Sydney a week ago, found greenfield residential lots released for sale nationally increased 31% in 2014. Melbourne was up 61%, South-east Queensland 55%, Sydney 29%.

But the institute’s national president, Cameron Shephard, said the increased activity masked a number of underlying problems: “Nationally, Australia still suffers from a marked undersupply of new housing stock, caused by inadequate investment in urban infrastructure, slow planning & approvals systems, and high taxes & charges on new housing supply.”

g lotsize auThe report recommended the Federal Government should:

  • help state governments remove stamp duty on property and replace it with more efficient forms of tax
  • provide more funding for investment in new urban infrastructure to unlock land
  • incentivise state governments to improve their performance on key land supply measures with performance-linked funding
  • cease plans to shift the cost of providing the national broadband network to new homebuyers through upfront connection, network & backhaul charges, and
  • continue to encourage foreign investment into residential real estate by supporting Australia’s existing foreign investment policy framework.

g lotsrel auThe report also recommended state & local governments should:

  • reform their planning systems to increase the supply of urban land and reduce delays & uncertainty associated with zoning, planning & approvals processes, and
  • reduce upfront charges & levies on new housing by favouring the recovery of costs over long time frames, rather than upfront.

Based on data from the national land survey programme, the report said:

  • The national average median new lot size fell 3.6% from 2013, 11.4% since 2009, to 474m², and
  • The average median new lot price in Australia’s 5 largest capital cities rose 4.2% from 2013, 22.5% since 2009, to $A246,300.

Link: Urban Development Institute of Australia

Attribution: Institute release.

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Second cbd proposed for Sydney

The New South Wales state government proposed yesterday that Sydney should have 2 central business districts – the established one on the harbour and a second fully fledged centre at Parramatta, 23km to the west.

Planning Minister Pru Goward released the state government’s Plan for growing Sydney yesterday, saying the aim was “to make Sydney an even better place to live and cement our status as one of the world’s most exciting cities.

“The metropolitan strategy will reinvigorate key Sydney suburbs, with more choice of homes linked to improved public transport and access to services like shops.”

Among the plan’s key proposals for action:

  • Shifting the city’s gravity from east to west by establishing Parramatta as a major cbd, alongside the Sydney cbd, for jobs and world-class shopping & entertainment
  • Creating vibrant new neighbourhoods with access to local jobs&d first-class local amenities by renewing the area between Greater Parramatta & the Olympic Peninsula
  • Delivering the Sydney green grid project to link open space across the greater metropolitan area
  • Transforming Western Sydney by delivering more jobs closer to home, including confirming Penrith, Campbelltown & Liverpool as regional city centres.

Ms Goward said the plan contained 59 specific actions to deliver, and said the Greater Sydney Commission would implement many of them over time: “This is different to other plans – it is measurable, it is deliverable and there is unprecedented opportunity for the community to get involved.

“This is a new way of delivering for our city – working side-by-side with communities & councils to deliver plans for Sydney’s regions. The Greater Sydney Commission will oversee the implementation of the plan and be responsible for making sure its actions are implemented.

“We’ll take it step by step. The differences people will see will be gradual and unfold over time, but we’re getting the ball rolling with an injection of $A6.5 million to start work and to establish the Greater Sydney Commission over the next 6 months.”

Work towards raising the profile of Sydney’s west has already started, with the decision to build a second airport at Badgerys Creek, 56km west of the present cbd.

Ms Goward said the plan was backed by the state government’s 4-year $A61 billion commitment to building better infrastructure to improve public transport, improve the efficiency of freight routes and unclog congested Sydney roads.

As part of the state infrastructure strategy, Western Sydney is also set to benefit from an infrastructure boost to get the region moving. This includes:

  • an extra $A600 million for the Parramatta light rail project
  • $A1 billion to upgrade Sydney’s existing rail network, – including the Western Sydney rail upgrade programme
  • a share of $A7 billion to deliver the rapid transit programme
  • a share of $A300 million to upgrade pinch points to get traffic moving in Western Sydney.”

Links: Planning NSW
Rebuilding NSW: Picturing a greater Sydney
Earlier story:

16 April 2014: Abbott confirms Sydney’s western second airport

Attribution: NSW Government release.

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Forecaster expects upturn in residential land supply for most Australian markets

Published 26 November 2012

Australian property forecaster BIS Shrapnel said in a report out this morning the recent protracted weakness in the Sydney, Perth & Brisbane markets for residential land – and to a lesser extent the Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast markets – had created the conditions for an upturn.

However, senior manager Angie Zigomanis said in the report, Outlook for residential land, 2012-17, he expected both demand and the production of residential sections to remain weak in Melbourne & Adelaide.

He said the weakness in house & land prices, combined with lower interest rates, had made housing considerably more affordable, but there was also now a shortage of homes.

Melbourne & Adelaide were different because they’d experienced the strongest residential rebound after the global financial crisis, and the consequent combination of high levels of land production & solid land price growth meant there was little demand pressure for new houses & land.

  Want to comment? Go to the forum.

  Attribution: Company release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report

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Australia’s property, green & sustainability councils call for smart growth through new website

Published 28 March 2012

The Property Council of Australia has launched a website challenging governments at all levels to allow Australians more say in development of their cities.

The website, Make My City Work, has the backing of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council & Green Building Council.

The call from the property council is for smart growth; a regime of financial incentives & penalties to drive better planning to create more productive, liveable & sustainable cities; a commitment to infrastructure; and simplified planning.

“Smart growth means more opportunities, higher productivity, better living standards and a healthier environment.  Dumb growth means more stress on transport, jobs & families and higher taxes into the future.”

Green Building Council chief executive Romilly Madew, who also chairs the sustainability council’s cities task group, said these 2 councils had been calling for a consistent national approach to city development, but the opportunity for public input had been inconsistent.

She said 85% of Australia’s projected 2050 population of 35 million would live in cities.

“The sustainability council believes a co-ordinated approach to urban policy development is necessary to meet Australians’ expectations for their cities, to make cities more resilient to climate change & environmental disasters and to maximise the opportunities of they represent as the powerhouses of Australia’s productivity & innovation. “

Website: Make My City Work

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Sustainability council release, new website, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Australian planning institute advocates urban policy to end sprawl v intensification debate

Published 6 January 2011

The Planning Institute of Australia and a range of other groups issued a statement on 10 December in support of developing a national urban policy & long-term strategic vision for Australia’s urban centres – 6 days before the New South Wales Government released its metropolitan plan for greater Sydney through to 2036.

The message was that “the complexities involved in designing & planning cities are generally ignored for the sake of an argument over urban sprawl verses higher density,” and that the nation’s cities shouldn’t be compromised for short-term political gain.

What was required, the signatories said, was “a new non-partisan approach to urban policy across all tiers of government to achieve genuinely liveable, sustainable cities:

“Recent media coverage has framed the critical issues of urban design & development in terms of partisan politics & old social stereotypes. Typically, it is reported that one side ‘supports’ suburban sprawl and the other density. At a time when our cities face the challenges of rapid growth & environmental limits, such reporting betrays the complexity of our cities & the diversity of our communities. This denies our cities their great potential to change for the better.

“Our cities are our greatest resource. They are not just short-term political game-boards. They are complex social, economic & ecological systems facing huge challenges. With creative thinking, careful planning & good design, the cities of our future can promote the health & well-being of all Australians. They can enhance our quality of life and support a renewed economic prosperity centred on innovation.

“Over time, people’s lifestyles change and this requires different forms of housing. Our cities should respond to the diversity of the community. City size is not a function of land area, it is a function of environmental, social, economic & infrastructural capacities.

“We believe, as do urban planners & designers the world over, that in certain well defined areas, a more compact urban form will deliver positive cultural, environmental & economic benefits. Where it is necessary to develop new land on the edges of our existing cities & regional centres, we have an obligation to ensure this is done in the most socially & environmentally responsible manner, with a new respect for our landscape & biodiversity.

“Most critically, we believe that achieving genuinely livable & sustainable cities, and a diversity of housing choices, demands well informed political leadership & a bipartisan approach to urban policy across all tiers of government. We support the development of a national urban policy to inform a long-term strategic vision for Australia’s urban centres. We also support a broad public conversation around the future of Australia’s cities and what decisions may be necessary to achieve higher quality urban development.”

Planning institute president Neil Savery said urban design & development “have recently been political playthings with media fuelling the fire”. He said all signatory organisations “support the view that Australia needs to embrace higher density…. Rejecting higher density out of hand is no longer an option for Australia.”

Mr Savery said it wasn’t a matter of debating one form of development against the other. But it is, and it has to be in a centrally focused metropolis. Auckland demonstrated, before it got a unitary council on 1 November, that political opinion could depend very easily on where you were. Auckland City Council favoured a compact city (in theory, all the region’s 7 territorial councils did, but in practice they didn’t) – this boosted inner-city land values as apartments were built and ensured commercial & industrial sites would be turned over. Councils on the periphery, on the other hand, kept seeing a need to expand urban development beyond the metropolitan urban limit and also wanted to create outlying industrial & business-land zones.

It’s rare for outlying centres to have an intensive development component at the heart as well as being dominated by the standard subdivisions of stand-alone houses, but that kind of thinking may come out of the urban policy proposal, showing the 2 opposing views can be blended. Greenfields development has to be the cheapest for the developer, but may not be the best choice in urban management when utility & transport costs are added to the calculation.

The irony of Mr Savery’s claim that sprawl-versus-density has become a political plaything is that the institute chose to run its urban policy ad in the newspaper most cited for political & cause bias, Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, which is at odds with most other Australian media on climate change, in particular.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported research from the Urban Development Institute of Australia on 30 December saying developing in established areas cost as much as 3 times more than in greenfields. The newspaper also quoted infrastructure company Parsons Brinckerhoff saying that providing power, water, sewerage, schools, hospitals & local government services for fringe developments cost the various levels of government $A85 million for every 1000 new homes ($A85,000/home), but didn’t include a transport component or make a comparison with intensive development.

Adelaide’s new 30-year plan, released in February 2010, has a target of 70% infill housing, and has been criticised by the development sector for implementation flaws.

Victoria’s Labor state government pushed through its Melbourne 2030 intensification strategy this year, but the new Liberal government has promised to reverse the whole of that policy.

Links: Planning Institute of Australia, national urban policy statement

NSW Government planning

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Attribution: Planning Institute of Australia policy statement & release, Adelaide Advertiser, NSW, South Australian & Victorian state government planning documents, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Sydney 2036 plan to contain sprawl, tie land use & transport

Published 6 January 2011

New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally released the Metropolitan plan for Sydney 2036 on 16 December, incorporating an $A50 billion transport plan released earlier in the year.

Ms Keneally said if urban sprawl was left unchecked it would consume all of Sydney’s agricultural land within a generation. The plan contains the urban footprint by focusing greenfield development in the north-west & south-west growth centres.

“On average, Sydney’s population will increase by 57,000 people/year over the next 2 decades, and this plan will focus new homes near jobs & public transport.” A new metropolitan plan delivery group will be formed to ensure the plan is implemented.

In line with figures released in October 2008, the plan projects:

Sydney’s population will increase from 4.28 million in 2006 to 5.98 million by 2036– an increase of 1.7 million, or 40%it will need 770,000 more homes, a 46% increase70% of the projected population growth will be driven by natural increase, 30% by interstate & international migration.

It supports:

building at least 80% of all new homes within walking distance of employment & retail centreswith good public transport linksplanning & infrastructure capacity for 760,000 more jobslocating 50% of jobs in western Sydney, including a proposed doubling of projected employment in south-west Sydneystrengthening the role of Parramatta as Sydney’s second cbd,as part of a network of 34 strategic centresprotecting biodiversity & agricultural landby focusing most greenfield development in established growth centres, andoutlining Sydney’s transport future, placing jobs & homes near existing & planned transport capacityand outlining long-term urban renewal & freight corridors that will be further investigated.

Combining the land use & transport plans – for the first time – would reduce the need for car travel: “This is about building homes & suburbs that will encourage people to get out of their cars and use public transport to get to nearby employment centres. This plan will ensure that as our population grows, Sydneysiders will continue to enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.”

 

State Transport Minister John Robertson said the government had a plan to provide new transport corridors connecting existing & projected population & employment growth areas, including:

rail links to growth areasexpress rail for western Sydneylight rail for the inner city & inner westmore buses on busy corridorskey motorway improvements, andimproving the movement of freight by rail, including links from the port & airport.

“These transport corridors will connect centres to each other, creating new travel patterns to job growth areas outside of the cbd. The plan continues our focus to create cross-city connections – moving away from a radial transport system running in & out of the Sydney cbd. This will help us create a true ‘city of cities’, allowing people to travel to centres close to their home for work, reducing commuting times.”

Link: Metro plan Sydney 2036

 

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Government release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Rudd outlines plan to take control of urban development

Published 5 November 2009

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will use an “intergenerational report” to seize control of urban development from state governments & local councils.

 

The excuse is the report’s projection of a 60% population increase to 35 million people over the next 40 years. Backing it up is the perennial Australian belief that being big is important, good for the macho soul.

 

Mr Rudd said the idea was a partnership – the Federal Government shouldn’t usurp the roles of lower government levels. But more importantly – and in keeping with the general air of megalomania – tax is the key: As the Federal Government collects tax, it was only right it should have a big say in its spending. Absent from his thoughts was any notion that taxes might be collected differently, enabling some independence in local decision-making.

 

In an address to the annual dinner of the Business Council of Australia on 27 October, Building a big Australia: Future planning needs of our major cities, Mr Rudd said planning of the country’s major cities was a key element of long-term infrastructure reform, “one that is critical to achieving our goals of lifting productivity, tackling climate change and improving the lives of millions of Australians”.

 

Most of Australia’s extra 35 million people would live in cities, adding about 3 million to the populations of Sydney & Melbourne, taking each to about 7 million. Brisbane would more than double to 4 million, Perth would grow to 3.5 million, Adelaide would have 1.5 million.

 

“I have said before that I believe in a big Australia. This is good for our national security, good for our long-term prosperity, good in enhancing our role in the region & the world. The time to prepare for this big Australia is now. But managing that population growth will be challenging.

 

“The Intergenerational Report will lay out the challenges posed by this growth. These challenges underscore the need for national leadership in planning the future of our cities. Tonight (last week), here in the nation’s largest city, I will set out the first steps in the Australian Government’s vision for national leadership in the growth & development of our major cities.”

 

After outlining Australia’s strong economic position during the international financial crisis of the past 2 years, Mr Rudd said that, “consistent with the principles of conservative economic management, the Government has expanded its role as the private economy has contracted and will contract the role of government as & when the private economy recovers”.

 

He said 70% of the Government’s stimulus money had been invested in economic & social infrastructure: “By the end of the current financial year, two thirds of this stimulus will have been invested. In fact, the intensity of our intervention peaked in the second quarter of 2009. By early 2010, the inbuilt contraction within our strategy, as designed from the start, will already be making a negative contribution to gdp growth…..

 

“But beyond disciplined macroeconomic policy, central to our agenda for recovery & future prosperity is the Government’s commitment to drive future productivity growth….. The previous Government vacated the field on future planning for our major cities. More broadly, the previous Government vacated the field on infrastructure per se – as this was passed off as the responsibility of the states, despite their financial and in many cases planning constraints. There was a failure of planning, a failure of co-ordination, a failure of investment and a failure in service delivery.”

 

Mr Rudd said this government’s agenda “does not supplant the essential roles of the states, territories & local authorities, but builds a new national partnership for better planning & productivity, and a better quality of city & suburban life…..

 

“Because cities are now so vital to economic success and to citizens’ wellbeing, national governments are now playing a much greater role in planning & delivering growth. That’s why, when the Government took office, we moved quickly to establish Infrastructure Australia and, within it, a major cities unit.”

 

Quoting the unpublished report, he said: ‘National urban policies in the past have been reactive & remedial, not pro-active & dynamic. Urban issues (must) be given greater visibility & higher priority in national policy…’

 

“Since coming to office, the Government has established a framework for national leadership on the infrastructure of the future. We have made unprecedented investments in infrastructure, water, housing, education & energy. We made a historic $A35.8 billion investment in transport infrastructure. We are the first national government to invest significantly in urban passenger rail infrastructure – with more than $A4.6 billion of funds. We have invested substantial funds in our nation’s capital cities:

an upgrade of the rail freight route north of Sydneyupgrading the F5 from Campbelltown, andundertaking preconstruction works on a 25km metro rail line from Parramatta to the Sydney cbd;an upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway to relieve congestion to & from Brisbane’s industrial hub;Melbourne’s regional rail express, the first major new rail line for the city in 80 years;Adelaide’s busy Gawler rail line;extending the Noarlunga line to Seaford and extending the innovative guided busway, the O-Bahn;Perth’s Northbridge rail project, that will sink a section of the Perth-Fremantle line, freeing up 5ha of land in the heart of Perth; anda major expansion & upgrade of the Port of Darwin and upgrading Tiger Brennan Drive.

“All up, our Government is investing more than double the previous Government on road infrastructure, quadruple the amount in rail infrastructure and, for the first time, the Commonwealth is making an investment in the nation’s port infrastructure…. The reason why we are making these investments is simple: The future of our cities will substantially shape the future of our nation…..

 

“One of the mistakes in debates about infrastructure & planning is thinking that cities & regional areas are in competition and governments must choose to favour either cities or the regions. Having spent most of my early years growing up in country Australia, and most of the past 3 decades in different cities, I’m convinced this is a myth. The prosperity of urban, suburban & regional Australia are strongly interlinked….. Transport bottlenecks in our cities can undermine the competitiveness of exports from our regions, just as poor regional water infrastructure can raise prices for the fresh food consumed in our cities. That is why tackling the future challenges of our major cities is so important to our nation’s long-term prosperity…..

 

“We must now move forward to tackle the 3 key challenges of the future for our major cities:

building productive cities – with efficient transport & communications networksbuilding affordable, liveable city communities, andbuilding sustainable cities…..

“In Australian cities, bottlenecks in our rail & port systems are imposing huge financial costs on our exporters and on businesses in general. It is estimated that road congestion by 2005 was contributing an avoidable cost of $A9.4 billion and, if we fail to act, that cost will double in the next decade.

 

“One of the factors driving the increased reliance on road usage is the long-term under-investment in public transport networks. In many places, those networks are under great pressure, and in some of our suburbs, especially on the fringe, they’re simply missing. Despite all that, public transport use in our cities is growing at a faster rate than car use.

 

“Our second great urban challenge is to build affordable, liveable cities. For many Australians, the problem of housing affordability has become acute in recent years. Of course, there has been some relief recently with lower interest rates and the first home owners boost. We established the Housing Affordability Fund to help reduce the costs of new homes by tackling the barriers developers face in supplying affordable housing.

 

“Through the Council of Australian Governments, we are developing national performance measures for development assessment to improve transparency & accountability for planning systems. Nevertheless, we still face the challenge of not enough new housing being built and affordability remaining a significant problem. That is why we are increasing the housing supply through our investment in social housing & the national rental affordability scheme.

 

“In making cities more liveable as well as more affordable, we must ensure that communities are not separated from jobs & services. Isolated communities breed social exclusion & entrenched disadvantage. Urban planning is therefore an important part of the long-term agenda to build a fairer Australia.

 

“Increasing density in cities is part of the solution to urban growth, alongside greenfield development. Both forms of development need to be fully integrated with current & future transport networks & other infrastructure & services.

 

“The third great urban challenge is to build sustainable cities. I have said before that climate change requires a whole-of-government response – including both adaptation & mitigation. Climate change is another reason why the national government must be engaged in cities policies. Directly & indirectly, cities make up an estimated 70% of Australia’s greenhouse gas output.

 

“Cities face major challenges from the impact of climate change, as do our regions. We must make long-term investments in transport networks that minimise carbon emissions. We must prepare for freshwater supplies coming under increasing pressure. Building practices & regulations will need to change so our homes & workplaces are energy-efficient & environmentally sustainable. And cities will need to prepare for the impacts of climate change – including the risk of coastal inundation, highlighted by a report of a House of Representatives inquiry released last night. Our nation has 80% of the population on the coast.

 

“We have to manage the impact of rising sea levels & increased risk of flooding on our cities & coastal areas. A national approach is needed – that is why we will work closely on the problem with state & territory governments, coastal councils, natural resource management bodies and experts in developing a response to the inquiry.

 

“To address this complex, connected set of challenges, and to lift our urban productivity, we must establish new frameworks for how the different levels of government, along with businesses & the community, work together to build better cities & suburbs.

 

“Governments across the nation are now working to integrate long-term urban planning & infrastructure investment. Most have in place, or are preparing, metropolitan plans to address the challenges of growing populations, land supply, infrastructure rollout, housing & the management of growth corridors. However, while some capital city planning frameworks are good, implementing them has proved far more difficult…..

 

“With Australia facing rapid growth in the decades ahead, the time has now come for the Australian Government to take a much greater national responsibility for improving the long-term planning of our major cities. History shows that when the Commonwealth steps into the urban arena, working in partnership with the states & territories, it has played a strong & positive role…..

 

“Clearly, the Commonwealth should not take over state responsibilities for land planning or have a direct role in the day-to-day decisions of state & local governments….. No Commonwealth minister wants to decide development applications or where to lay sewerage pipes. But we must recognise the economic reality of the 21st century. The national government has a clear responsibility to provide national leadership in the development of strategic planning frameworks for our largest cities. That is why, working with state & territory governments, we established the Council of Australian Governments Cities Taskforce.

 

“We created the major cities unit within Infrastructure Australia to identify opportunities where national leadership can enhance the prosperity of our cities & the wellbeing of their citizens. We have also created the Australian Council of Local Government so we can hear from, and talk to, all levels of government involved in economic development.

 

“And in August I met for the second time with the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors and we agreed to work in partnership to address climate change in capital cities. Tonight I announce the next step to integrate these initiatives into a new, national strategy. In partnership with the states & territories, we will now propose the development of national criteria for the future strategic planning of our major cities.

 

“The Commonwealth will now consider linking all future infrastructure funding to compliance with these criteria. If the Commonwealth is to foot any significant part of the urban infrastructure bill, the Commonwealth will legitimately expect to have confidence in the integrity of the strategic planning system in our major cities.

 

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City mission leader wants Rudd to intervene in urban planning

Published 5 November 2009

The chief executive of Mission Australia, Toby Hall, told the Australian Economic Forum in August the Rudd government should play a more interventionist role in urban planning to improve access to affordable housing.

 

The nation’s city missions, which have come under the Mission Australia umbrella for 20 years, are a leading provider of housing support & homeless services. Mr Hall said the previous federal government and successive state & territory governments had proven themselves largely incapable of developing coherent urban plans that allowed for the integration of affordable housing: “As a result, in our urban areas, affordable housing options are too often located on the fringes of our major cities – away from jobs, transport & other essential services. “We’ve succeeded in building communities where disadvantaged & low-income people are clustered in areas where social & economic participation & growth is stagnant. “We need to see targeted investment in inner-city housing on the grounds that it is well located. But at the same time, we need to learn from the past and not create monolithic housing estates; nor, by our investment, hurry-on the gentrification of inner-city areas where affordable housing remains and price low income people out. “While urban planning isn’t an area commonly associated with federal governments, there are precedents. For example, the Rudd Government could consider the Building better cities initiative of the Keating government as a model of what can be done in this area. “While the programme had its limitations, it also produced some highly successful affordable housing developments in inner-city areas around the country – such as in Pyrmont-Ultimo in Sydney, New Farm in Brisbane, Kensington in Melbourne and East Perth. “I believe it’s in the national interest for the Federal Government to play a greater role in the urban planning of our cities. Australia has become a society where, too often, affordable housing is poorly built and only available in areas away from jobs, childcare & transport – where your heating & cooling costs are so high you can’t invest in your children’s education, sport or health, and where you need a car because there’s no public transport. That sort of society is ripe for social unrest & economic decline.” Mr Hall said the Rudd government’s initiatives in building affordable & social housing had already been significant & welcome, but the failures of previous governments had left it with considerably more to do: “Because affordable & social housing has been so ignored over the past 15 years, the Rudd government’s initiatives in this area – such as the national rental affordability scheme and the social housing component of its nation building stimulus package – will barely touch the sides, given the need that’s out there. “According to the National Housing Supply Council, there is a shortfall of around 251,000 properties available for affordable rent for low- & moderate- income earners.”

Website: Mission Australia

 

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Attribution: Mission Australia release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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