Unlocking the Economic Potential of our Urban Communities
The Hon Anthony Albanese
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,
Regional Development and Local Government
Leader of the House
Member for Grayndler
April 30 2008
The Rudd Labor Government has today taken another decisive step towards making sure Australia’s major cities remain places where people want to live, work, raise a family and do business.
The Government will establish and resource a Major Cities Unit within my Department, renewing the Commonwealth’s focus on the nation’s cities, and more broadly, on urban development.
I made the announcement during an address to the annual conference of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) – appropriate given this body represents Australia’s third largest regional economy and an area experiencing significant infrastructure challenges.
It is unfortunate that for more than a decade the Commonwealth has been absent from our cities – a situation that cannot continue if we are serious about securing our national prosperity.
Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with more than four out five Australians living in urban communities. What’s more, between 2001 and 2006 our capital cities contributed 78 per cent to the nation’s economic growth.
At present our cities have to deal with a myriad of government departments, all of which can have a direct affect on their economic, social and environmental performance.
A more coordinated and integrated approach is needed. The Major Cities Unit will provide just that.
It will identify opportunities where Federal leadership can make a difference to the prosperity of our cities and the wellbeing of their residents.
In particular, I am keen to see a strong relationship develop between our major cities and Infrastructure Australia, the new body charged with prioritising billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure around the nation.
The Major Cities Unit will be central to this relationship.
And by major cities, I mean more than our eight capital cities. For example, regional centres like Townsville, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Geelong are also experiencing enormous growth.
The Rudd Labor Government understands that our future economic prosperity will in great part depend on the ability of our cities to function successfully.