Infrastructure Australia calls for national leadership on cities

23 February 2018

A new report from Infrastructure Australia is calling for the Federal government to have a greater leadership role in securing the global competitiveness of our largest cities.

The latest round of research from the nation's independent infrastructure advisor recommends that the Commonwealth Government establish a framework of incentives to improve the productivity, liveability and affordability of our largest cities.

“Australia's cities are the powerhouses of our economy and they need to be a national priority of government,” Infrastructure Australia CEO, Philip Davies said.

“Asia's global middle class as well as our own rapidly growing population will unlock new economic frontiers for Australia, but we need to position our cities to take advantage of this historic opportunity.

“Australia needs to start setting national objectives that allow our cities to realise their full potential and remain globally competitive.

“The Australian Government is right to think that investment shouldn't just come in the form of give and forget grants. We need to introduce more structure and accountability by tying funding for our cities to clear national performance outcomes.

The paper says that with greater national leadership we have the opportunity to structure our infrastructure funding in a way that incentivises the delivery of nation-shaping reforms.

“That is why we are recommending that the Australian Government establish a consistent framework of incentives to drive the delivery of national benefits within our cities at the project, place and reform level”, Mr Davies said.

The new framework would include a hierarchy of three incentive types:

  • National Partnership and Project Agreements which make project funding contingent on meeting specified outcomes across the project lifecycle and demonstrated economic benefit.
  • City Deals which apply a series of locally and nationally informed objectives to a city or part of a city, and make infrastructure payments for the area contingent on meeting those objectives.
  • Infrastructure Reform Incentives which would provide additional infrastructure funding above existing allocation in return for the delivery of policy and regulatory reform focused on improving the productivity, liveability and affordability of Australian cities.

To be successful, the design and implementation of these incentives would need to be informed by a well-evidenced national investment and reform agenda for Australian cities.

The paper, Future Cities: Planning for our growing population, was launched at a breakfast event hosted by the Committee for Melbourne and the Committee for Sydney. It is available for download at infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.