Address to the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors Summit 2010
The future prosperity of our cities
Parliament House, Canberra
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,
Regional Development and Local Government
Leader of the House
Member for Grayndler
Thursday, 27 May 2010
It’s a pleasure to join you today to talk about the challenges facing our cities and how we can work together to overcome them.
Before I start, I know that Clover won’t let me get away without mentioning the latest Mercer Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, which was released yesterday.
For the third year in a row, Sydney was among the top 10 most liveable cities in the world – coming in at number 10.
Melbourne scored a very respectable ranking of 18.
That being said, the Rudd Labor Government values the dialogue that we have with the Capital City Lord Mayors.
In fact, it is an important plank of our partnership with local government to improve how we serve our communities.
A partnership that has already invested billions of dollars into local community infrastructure and services.
And it has set us down the path of cooperative reform.
IMPORTANCE OF CITIES
In March this year, I launched the first State of Australian Cities report.
I said that it was part of a process of stimulating ideas that would help shape our thinking about the future of Australian cities.
It was about commencing an informed and evidence-based discussion about the solutions our cities need.
I’m pleased that the CCCLM has chosen to engage in a very constructive way by holding this summit right here in Parliament House.
It sends a strong message to any doubters in this building, any sceptics out there about the Commonwealth’s role in our cities.
The Commonwealth is responsible for the welfare and prosperity of all Australians – regardless of where they live.
In fact four out of five Australians live in our capital cities and our major regional centres.
Our 17 major cities with populations over 100,000 contribute 80 per cent of our GDP.
They employ 73 per cent of the nation’s workforce.
Our major cities are home to major manufacturers.
They connect the commodities of our farms and mines to world markets.
They also attract significant numbers of tourists and skilled migrants.
Our cities contribute significantly to the high quality of life all Australians enjoy.
The future of our cities is critical for the future of the nation.
It makes the chronic national neglect of our cities all the more inexcusable.
The challenges our cities face – increasing congestion, lack of affordable housing, combating climate change, planning for population growth – have been ignored for far too long.
INVESTING IN OUR CITIES
So when the Rudd Labor Government took office, we very quickly set about reversing this neglect.
We doubled our investment in roads, quadrupled the investment in rail, and we commissioned Australia’s first ever national ports and freight strategies.
So far, we’re investing a record $37 billion in road, rail and ports – vital economic infrastructure to improve productivity, remove capacity constraints and boost the quality of life of Australians.
Such as our $236 million investment into the Northbridge Rail Link in Perth.
Or $293 million for the Gawler Line modernisation in Adelaide.
It includes the most significant investment a Commonwealth government has ever made into urban passenger rail – $3.2 billion for the Regional Rail Link project in Victoria.
And earlier this month, the Budget allocated $70.7 million to complete the detailed planning on the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal Project in Sydney’s South West.
We expect the staged redevelopment of the hub to start in 2013, subject to final approval.
The new facility will not only create hundreds of jobs across Western Sydney but it will help take more than one million trucks a year off the M5.
Of course our investments were not limited to transport.
In my portfolio, they include $1.2 billion for community infrastructure.
Investments such as $13 million towards the $53 million makeover of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Or $9 million for a new home for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane.
And $3.5 million to redevelop Victoria Park in Melbourne.
So when it comes to cities, the Rudd Labor Government already has runs on the board.
We’re serious about making the investments that are needed to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable.
A NATIONAL URBAN POLICY
As we go forward, the Government is also determined to develop and implement the policy frameworks needed to guide the future development of our major cities.
The State of Australian Cities report was an important benchmarking exercise in terms of understanding how our cities fare against the rest of the world.
The Major Cities Unit is now developing a national urban policy to help guide our future decisions and the future development of our cities.
I welcome your contribution to that policy process today, as well as your ongoing involvement in the MCU.
Let me be clear that the detailed day-to-day planning of our cities is without question the role of state and local governments.
The Commonwealth is not in the business of taking over the development approvals for Backyard Blitz.
Rather, the aim of the national urban policy is three-fold.
Firstly, it will articulate for the first time a Commonwealth perspective of Australia’s cities and the vital importance of major cities to Australia’s future prosperity, international competitiveness and improved quality of life for all Australians.
Secondly, it will capture the breadth of the Government’s direct interest in building Australia’s future through investment in services and infrastructure within cities, and between cities and regional Australia.
Thirdly, it will set out in very broad terms the future strategies of the Government future priorities for infrastructure investment.
The national urban policy is about leading national thinking on how Australia should position itself with respect to future cities investments.
It is about partnering with state and local governments to create the environment for each of our major urban centres to build their future, and to exploit their individual strengths for the benefit of the nation.
I expect to release it later this year.
I know the CCCLM has been working closely with the Major Cities Unit over its development and I encourage you to continue doing so.
The national urban policy will also align closely with the Cities Planning Taskforce as well as the capital city plans which COAG has agreed to develop and implement by 2012.
We made it clear at COAG last year that we would not be shy about tying future Commonwealth funding to those city plans.
The Commonwealth is in cities policy for the long haul.
We need to be, and we have a responsibility to do our part in the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities.
I wish you success with the remainder of your summit and look forward to working with you into the future.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.