Our Cities furthers the Australian Government’s commitment to a national approach to urban development and provides the basis for developing a national urban policy, to be released later in 2011. As part of the consultation, the Major Cities Unit has held workshops with State, Territory and Local Governments and other key stakeholders across Australia’s 18 major cities. Amongst the many important discussions and questions these consultations generated, the following three are briefly discussed below:
What is the relationship between national urban policy and other Australian government policies and reforms?
What is relationship between national urban policy and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement on a national objective and planning criteria for capital city planning systems?
What is the role of the Australian government in national urban policy in relation to the other spheres of government and the private sector?
National urban policy
The national urban policy is being developed concurrently with a number of other major Commonwealth policy initiatives that have implications for cities: the Sustainable Population Strategy and the COAG agreement on capital city planning are particularly notable.
The Sustainable Population Strategy is due to be released in the first half of 2011. The ageing of the population, with its declining contribution to the workforce and rising health costs, poses a significant challenge to the economy. Maintaining our future productivity and quality of life requires that we take a longer term view of population growth. Cities are critical to national productivity and will be the centres for most of the projected population growth. Two key directions for national urban policy, therefore, involve prioritising the integration of land use and infrastructure to maximise productivity and ensuring that the supply of housing, infrastructure and services meet the needs of the growing and changing urban population in a way that is socially and environmentally sustainable.
In accordance with the December 2009 COAG cities agreement, States and Territories will have strategic plans for capital cities that meet criteria by January 2012. As part of the agreement, the Commonwealth will link its future investment in cities to these strategic plans. The COAG Reform Council is presently reviewing metropolitan planning systems for their adherence to the criteria, and its findings will be released later in 2011.
The national urban policy will not duplicate or replace the State, Territory or Local Government responsibilities for city planning and functioning. Rather, it will seek to identify ways that the Australian Government can contribute to improvements to the planning and management of our cities and support the streamlining of administrative processes to achieve a more productive, sustainable and liveable future for our urban communities.