The Turnbull Government is continuing to politicise its City Deals program by prioritising some cities ahead of others based on the electoral cycle.
At Senate Estimates this week the Cities Division was unable to confirm precisely when Darwin, Hobart and Perth would finalise their City Deals, but was explicit that Geelong would receive its City Deal in September or October this year.
Coincidentally, this is just ahead of the Victorian State Election in November.
This follows a string of other remarkable coincidences including the announcement of a Hobart City Deal in the lead up to the Tasmanian State election.
And, of course, we already know that the Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney City Deals were announced during the 2016 Federal Election campaign and largely mirrored commitments already made by Labor.
In the meantime, Darwin has been left to linger, with its MOU signed this time last year, but no finish line in sight for an actual City Deal.
Ideally City Deals would provide an opportunity for genuine collaboration across the three tiers of government, establishing at the same time a long-term strategic vision outside the electoral cycle.
But in practice, the Coalition’s City Deals are a far cry from this model and instead a reflection of political convenience.
Australian cities need real investment and leadership from the Commonwealth so that they are productive, sustainable and liveable places well into the future.