Sep 2, 2014

Abbott fails cities test

Tony Abbott has abandoned the four out of five Australians who live in cities by dumping a panel of the nation’s most trusted and independent urban experts, instead cutting billions in public transport and vacating the policy space.

Since being elected a year ago Mr Abbott has failed to convene the Urban Policy Forum even once, seemingly content to do nothing while traffic congestion worsens, air pollution increases and productivity and jobs growth slow in our major centres.

The former Labor Government took a proactive approach, releasing Australia’s first National Urban Policy, appointing the Urban Policy Forum, forming the Major Cities Unit and commissioning the now-annual State of Australian Cities reports.

On its first day, the Abbott Government shut the Major Cities Unit, a decision condemned at the time by the Property Council of Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Grattan Institute.

Australia cannot afford not to have a federal urban policy. Mr Abbott’s systematic dismantling of expertise in the Commonwealth is damaging productivity and will lead to slower jobs growth and reduced quality of life for millions of Australia.

The 2013 State of Australian Cities report warned that Australia’s capital cities are among the fastest growing in the developed world, in a nation that is already among the most urbanised on earth.

Labor believes that the Commonwealth must provide national leadership by establishing frameworks for sensible decision making on urban policy across all levels of Government.

We support productive, sustainable and liveable Australian cities.

It’s about time Mr Abbott did too.