19 June 2013 — With the federal election looming, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council has released a six-point plan designed to ensure Australian cities are sustainable, productive, liveable and able to meet future challenges.

The body said that more proactive policies were needed on Australian cities. In the lead-up to the election, ASBEC called on political parties to support the following policies:

  • Elevate the Major Cities Unit and establish a Minister for Cities and Urban Development – transform the Major Cities Unit into a Department for Cities and Urban Development to provide a centre of excellence within the Australian Government, resourced to work across governments and portfolios to develop and implement policies supporting better cities
  • Adopt a national approach to our cities with a strong governance framework – implement a framework to inform public policy and decision-making; develop a set of national, evidence-based urban indicators to measure the performance of cities; adopt an integrated and accountable approach to governance, based on national competition policy, that encompasses all three spheres of government; and identify effective funding models to ensure urban infrastructure is adequately financed
  • Establish an Urban Infrastructure Fund – increase the capital available to fund local community infrastructure focused on improving productivity, liveability and sustainability
  • Align Infrastructure Australia with National Urban Policy – ensure Infrastructure Australia can effectively interface with the Major Cities Unit and the National Urban Policy Forum, and better integrate infrastructure prioritisation and delivery with urban development policy and research
  • Deliver a quantum leap in sustainable, affordable housing – implement a national framework for the delivery of affordable and sustainable housing, establishing targets for new and existing buildings; identifying barriers and providing strategies to overcome them; providing meaningful housing policies and supporting initiatives that offer incentives for developers, owners and tenants to convert industry leadership into standard practice; aligning voluntary standards with mandatory requirements; harmonising rating tools; and providing an implementation plan to convert the framework into action
  • Focus on climate change adaptation and resilience – apply ASBEC’s Built Environment Adaptation Framework to the development of a coordinated, well-resourced and nationally consistent suite of policies to better protect our cities from predicted climate change risks and maximise resource security

“Australian cities are the country’s largest productivity and residential hubs, hosting three-quarters of our population and generating more than 80 per cent of our GDP,” said chair of chair of ASBEC’s cities and regions policy task group Romilly Madew. “A nationally coordinated focus on cities is paramount.”

“While we applaud the work of the current Australian Government – particularly the establishment of the Major Cities Unit and launch of the National Urban Policy – we must now transform these ideas into actions and results.

“The policies and programs we implement today will determine whether our cities are prosperous, liveable and sustainable places for many generations to come.”