Albanese names head of Major Cities Unit

Urban planning expert Dorte Ekelund has been named as the head of the Rudd Government's Major Cities Unit

Urban planning expert Dorte Ekelund has been named as the head of the Rudd Government's Major Cities Unit, which will operate in the office of Infrastructure Australia.

Ekelund has more than 25 years’ experience in urban planning and investment, and has worked in the NSW local government sector as well as with the ACT and Western Australian governments.

She will advise the Government on urban design and development as it focuses on constructing infrastructure to slash congestion and emissions while boosting productivity.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese congratulated Ekelund on accepting the role, which she will take up in November.

"The Government is very pleased that an individual with such a significant expertise in urban planning and a strong track-record in strategic infrastructure investment has agreed to serve as the inaugural head of this important new national body," Albanese says.

Ekelund will leave her role as Deputy Director General of Western Australia’s Department for Planning and Infrastructure where she has been since January 2007.

During that time Ekelund was also a member of the State’s planning commission, which is responsible for managing Western Australia’s growth.

Albanese announced Ekelund’s appointment during the Tourist and Transport Forum in Sydney.

In his closing address to the forum, Albanese highlighted the challenges and opportunities of focusing on developing sustainable urban infrastructure.

"Our capital cities alone accounted for 78 percent of Australia’s economic growth to the five years to 2006," he says.

"If Australia is to maintain our prosperity our cities must become more productive, more competitive, more innovative."

Albanese says the Urban Cities Unit will provide a coordinated and integrated approach to infrastructure capable of meeting social and environmental needs as well the wellbeing of residents.

"The Major Cities Unit will work hand in hand with Infrastructure Australia, the new body charged with prioritising billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure around the nation," Albanese says.

In order to bankroll key urban infrastructure projects, Albanese says the Government will be looking to private investors as well as maximising available capital in superannuation funds.

The unit will consult closely with Infrastructure Australia, councils, businesses and communities to develop policies.

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