While Australia’s major cities remain among the world’s most liveable and are increasingly powered by the knowledge industries of the future, they are also more than ever being affected by extreme weather events and struggling to house the continuing influx of new residents.
These are a just few of the findings and trends contained in the latest ‘report card’ on the progress and performance of our nation’s eighteen biggest cities: State of Australian Cities 2012.
Compiled by the Major Cities Unit within my Department, the first two editions generated enormous interest and have been downloaded two million times. I am sure this year’s report, which includes the latest Census data, will attract a similar level of interest.
A summary of the State of Australian Cities 2012 is attached. A full copy of the report along with individual factsheets for each of the cities is now available at: www.infrastructure.gov.au.
As well as giving us a better understanding of how our cities work, the report also identifies the specific initiatives of local councils and state planning authorities which are proving effective at promoting more productive, sustainable and liveable urban communities.
The Federal Labor Government has ended the Commonwealth’s decade long, self-imposed exile from our major cities and is engaging with the States and Territories as well as local councils to bring about a much needed urban renaissance.
Indeed, as one of the most urbanised societies in the world, Australia’s continuing prosperity in the competitive, globalised world of the 21st century will largely depend on how successful we are at making our cities work better.
This task is given even greater urgency by the looming long term challenges of climate change and a growing, ageing population. For instance, in the absence of a new approach, traffic congestion alone is set to cost Australian businesses and families more than $20 billion a year by the end of this decade.
But one thing is certain: building better cities will require cooperation between all levels of government from the local town hall to the national parliament.
That’s why in addition to creating the Major Cities Unit and publishing the annual State of the Cities report we have:
- Released Our Cities, Our Future: a National Urban Policy For a productive, sustainable and liveable future which articulates the Commonwealth’s objectives and priorities for our major cities;
- Created the Urban Policy Forum made up of national leaders in cities policy to advise and guide future policy;
- Committed more to modernising and extending urban passenger rail than all our predecessors since Federation combined;
- Funded the Liveable Cities Program to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable;
- Established a National Smart Managed Motorways Trial to retrofit smart technology to improve traffic flows along congested motorways and city roads;
- Placed the need for infrastructure planning reform on the agenda of COAG with the establishment of the National Planning Taskforce;
- Required all State and Territory governments to have in place strategic plans for their capital cities to guide future growth.
Australia’s eighteen major cities are:
- Gold Coast-Tweed;
- Sunshine Coast;