30 July 2014 — Head of the Business Council of Australia Jennifer Westacott is calling for Australia to adopt a “cities agenda”, in stark contrast to the federal government, which has dismantled measures to assist city development on a national scale including axing the Major Cities Unit.
Ms Westacott, who will give tonight’s [Wednesday’s] UNSW Faculty of Built Environment Utzon lecture, said that in a decade just 600 cities will be responsible for two-thirds of world economic growth and 200 of them will be in China.
“Two hundred Chinese cities will be responsible for an estimated 30 per cent of global economic growth,” she said.
“Instead of Australian cities competing with each other, we need to think about competing with Singapore, with Chengdu, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Dallas, and the policy settings that will allow us to do this.”
She said both Sydney and Melbourne needed to start planning for projected populations of eight million by 2050. Key to this was rethinking the spatial dynamic of cities from suburbs and cities to corridors and hubs.
Ms Westacott said the BCA would advocate for a more cohesive policy approach to city planning.
“While I am not advocating a central planning approach for Australia, I am saying that accidentally becoming a city of eight million people will lead to very poor outcomes indeed,” she said.
“Unless we adopt a more purposeful approach to the planning, design and governance of our cities, the community will continue to push back on the entire concept of population growth.”
She cited Sydney’s North West Corridor as a good example of a corridor and hub style approach, with 50 per cent of NSW’s gross state product now concentrated in this economic corridor.
With globalisation, technology and demographic shifts already affecting cities, Ms Westacott said it was important to be flexible and plan for different concepts of what makes a city.
“The key to getting cities right is in their design,” she said.
In her lecture, Ms Westacott will also cover reform of state planning systems, a national population strategy, the outcome-focused metropolitan strategies, and new ways to fund and finance public infrastructure.
The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A led by director of the UNSW City Futures Research Centre Professor Bill Randolph, with panellists including chief executive and managing director of Mirvac Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz and Telstra group executive, global enterprise and services Brendon Riley.