Oct 27, 2014

Coalition caves on Urban Policy Forum

After more than a year’s silence on cities policy, the Abbott Government has caved under pressure from Labor and acknowledged the Urban Policy Forum. 

This follows months of Labor pressuring the Abbott Government to confirm the continuation of the Urban Policy Forum and announce a meeting date.

Mr Mike Mrdak, Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, told Labor at the Senate Estimates Committee Hearings in February the Forum was ‘unlikely to meet’.

In May, Mr Mrdak said ‘clearly the government has more pressing priorities…’

Yet in a remarkable turnaround, just last week the Department notified members of the Urban Policy Forum that a briefing of members would take place tomorrow at the Department.

Whilst Tuesday’s meeting is a step in the right direction, it is unfortunate to see its only purpose is to brief members on the 2014 State of Australian Cities report and provide an update from the Department, rather than any dialogue.

Labor created the Urban Policy Forum in 2012 as a meeting space to seek advice from industry and policy experts, not just convey information.

Labor takes urban policy seriously. This is why late last month Opposition Leader Bill Shorten added the new shadow portfolio of Cities to my responsibilities.

We have established a new Urban Policy Dialogue, which will meet on the 1st of December in Parliament House. 

The Urban Policy Dialogue will provide input for urban policy experts so Labor can offer a comprehensive policy for better cities at the next federal election and beyond.