27 May 2013 — Research released on Monday gives an indication of what Australians expect from their cities into the future.
Strategic consulting and engineering firm MWH Global’s study, Your life, your home, your city – the future of Australia’s liveable cities, shows that access to healthcare, jobs and emergency services are the most important factors when deciding where to live – more important than aesthetics, education, culture and environment.
“A key concern of Australians, whether they live in the outback or a big city, is the ability to quickly and easily access what they need, whether it’s a trip to the doctor, getting to work in the morning or visiting friends and family,” said Mark Bruzzone, Australia regional director of government and infrastructure at MWH.
A recent report by the Grattan Institute, Productive Cities: opportunity in a changing economy, found that Australian cities were failing this task, with access to city-based jobs becoming increasingly difficult, with ramifications for those living in outer suburbs as well as for overall productivity.
Looking to the future, the study found access to water was seen as the most critical infrastructure need. Renewable energy and drought-proofed water supply were the two next most important factors.
“Nine in 10 Australians believe that unused crown land and government-owned buildings should be used to generate electricity using solar and wind power, suggesting an expectation that government should be doing more to take on the task of transitioning to renewable energy provision,” Mr Bruzzone said.
The research has implications for how urban planning problems are prioritised and dealt with, he said.
“For the first time, we have a clear picture of what Australians want from their cities, which is a valuable tool for planning and prioritising resources for the future.
“In light of challenges such as increasing natural disasters, climate change and population growth, the government needs to take a long-term approach in order to build a more sustainable environment for people to live in, reflected by the concern of the Australian public for safe drinking water, renewable energy and a drought-proof water supply in cities of the future. This, coupled with delivering the services and amenities most valued by Australians, should be at the heart of urban planning. This is a joint task for government, councils, state departments and service providers as we seek to design resilient communities and cities for the future.”