Press Release: City Planning Report Shows We Must Do Better

02 April 2012

Infrastructure Australia has welcomed the release of the COAG Reform Council's report on capital city strategic planning processes.

Infrastructure Australia Chairman, Sir Rod Eddington, commended the COAG Reform Council and its expert advisory panel on cities saying, “The Reform Council and the expert panel have done an excellent job in analysing a very complex area.”

Sir Rod added, “Given the importance of cities for our national economy and for the lives of around three quarters of all Australians, the report's conclusions are worrying.”

“In many areas, current planning systems are only partially consistent with the criteria set by the Council of Australian Governments.”

“Reading between the lines, one gets the sense that the Reform Council's assessments are perhaps generous in some instances.”

“These conclusions support Infrastructure Australia's own experiences and observations, based on almost four years of reviewing project proposals from the States and Territories, and of working with the jurisdictions on initiatives such as the National Ports Strategy.”

National Infrastructure Coordinator, Michael Deegan, added “A large number of the infrastructure proposals presented to Infrastructure Australia have struggled to present a clear strategic rationale.”

“Governments seem stuck with a ‘magic pudding’ approach to infrastructure planning.”

“We've seen very little evidence that the jurisdictions are serious about more innovative ways of how they may pay for new infrastructure, or, failing that, are serious about taking a much more hard headed view of the scoping and prioritisation of their project proposals.”

“Mr Deegan said, “The report's implicit criticism of the governments' frameworks for investment and innovation in capital cities, particularly as they relate to economics and arrangements for private investment is ‘spot on’.”

“This leads Infrastructure Australia to the view—one we put to the COAG Reform Council—that the infrastructure dimensions of our metropolitan plans are often undeliverable.”

“In addition, in many cases, the integration of transport and land use—a point highlighted in the report—has been sadly under done.”

“We need to find ways of making our metropolitan planning processes more durable.”

“At present, as the Reform Council's report shows, the processes aren't always working very well. Even if they do, changes in government can sometimes lead to quite significant changes in strategic direction,” said Mr Deegan.

“This emphasises the need for governments to commit to improving their planning systems.”

Sir Rod observed, “The report paints a compelling case for ongoing collaboration between governments when dealing with our cities.”

“This is a vitally important message for the Australian Government.”

“Initiatives such as the release of the National Urban Policy and the substantial funding for urban public transport demonstrate a significant interest in and commitment to cities from the Australian Government.”

These initiatives demonstrate a refreshing awareness that the traditional view from Canberra that cities are something for the states and territories to deal with is no longer sustainable,” concluded Sir Rod.

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