Sep 20, 2015

Labor welcomes Cities Ministry

Labor welcomes Malcolm Turnbull’s move to appoint Jamie Briggs as Minister for Cities and the Built Environment.

After two years of inaction on urban policy and a year since I was appointed Shadow Minister for Cities by Bill Shorten, I’m happy that Mr Turnbull has seen fit to re-engage with this critical policy area.

But this welcome appointment must be more than a simply a new title. It must involve significant investment in our cities.

Mr Turnbull needs to not just travel occasionally on public transport; he must fund it.

That means restoring the $4.5 billion in cuts to public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Adelaide’s Tonsley Park project and Hobart Light Rail. That also includes the $500 million in grants that had been allocated to Perth Light Rail and a rail link from the Perth CBD to the city’s busy airport.

Funding is also needed for Stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail to ensure it is completed in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Turnbull should also re-establish the use of proper cost-benefit analysis of major infrastructure projects and deliver transparency over projects like the East West Link, Westconnex and the Perth Freight Link.

He should also re-establish the Major Cities Unit to drive urban policy and order it to return to the annual public publication of the State of Australian Cities Report.

While we welcome the appointment of a Minister for Cities and Built Environment and stand ready to work with the government in improving our cities, it is disappointing it was not connected  to the important portfolios of Infrastructure and Local Government.