Better approach needed to capital cities, report finds

Australia's capital cities need to prepare themselves to better meet infrastructure growth at ports and airports

Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | April 2, 2012

Australia’s capital cities need to prepare themselves to better meet infrastructure growth at ports and airports, a review has found.

The Council of Australian Governments Reform Council (COAG) Chairman Paul McClintock wants all governments to work together to achieve COAG’s objective for capital cities, saying more needs to be done to improve freight transport and intermodal networks to support growth.

"Our report found that while governments have shown strong commitment to improve their planning systems, none of their systems are entirely consistent with COAG’s agreed criteria to reshape our capital cities," McClintock says.

The review of capital city strategic planning systems has found the country is at a "watershed point" for its capital cities and strategic planning.

"Strategic planning of capital cities must change accordingly, underlining the importance of COAG’s agreement of criteria to reshape our cities," the review says.

"The panel sees a need for a changed approach to infrastructure planning and financing – investment must be strategic to both overcome a lack of investment in decent decades and to manage infrastructure provision over the medium and long term."

Sydney and Melbourne were among the worst-performing cities when their strategic planning systems were assessed against criteria agreed by COAG in 2009 to improve the global competitiveness, productivity, sustainability and liveability of capital cities.

Sydney lacks the "hard-edged" accountability, performance and implementation measures to drive the policies, it has found.

"The drive toward densification and making Sydney a ‘city of cities’ requires a delicate balancing act between affordability and growth, on the one hand, and productivity and sustainability on the other," the review says.

Melbourne faces challenges in accommodating future growth in freight, including port capacity and the infrastructure to support expanded capacity.

The agreed criteria for capital city strategic planning systems are necessary but not sufficient to deliver on its objective of globally competitive, productive, sustainable, liveable and socially inclusive cities that can meet future challenges and growth, the review adds.

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