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Key groups urge cities policy overhaul

The Australian Institute of Architects and the Planning Institute are among a powerful group of built environment organizations that have called on the federal government to create a Minister for Cities to focus on the country’s rapidly growing cities.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) responded to the 2014/2015 State of the Cities Report by releasing their own report outlining the need for urgent change.

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The ASBEC report is called Investing in Cities: Prioritising a Cities and Urban Policy Framework for productivity, prosperity and a better standard of living.

ASBEC president and Australian Institute of Architects president elect Ken Maher said that governments need to deliver policy that will preserve the “liveability” of Australian cities.

“Poor urban policy and design causes more than just traffic jams and air pollution,” he said.

“We already know Australia is sitting on a $53 billion-per-year cost of congestion time bomb.”

Key aspects of the report recommended:

  • The creation of a Minister of Cities to lead the federal government on cities policy
  • Intergovernmental cooperation and collaboration at all levels on cities policy
  • Collaboration with the private sector at all levels of government on cities policy
  • The implemenation of transparent indicators across capital cities that measure areas such as sustainable land use, transport, housing diversity and supply and greenhouse gas emissions
  • The development of a transparent 30-Year-Infrastructure-Plan led by Infrastructure Australia.

Member organizations represented by the council include the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the Planning Institute of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The Abbott government disbanded the Major Cities Unit – a planning, policy and infrastructure government agency – soon after its election in September 2013.

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Prior to the 2013 federal election, the then prime minister Kevin Rudd promised that a reelected Labor government would introduce Australia’s first Minister for Cities. Labor MP Anthony Albanese is the shadow Minister for Cities, as well as shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.

Albanese released a public statement after the release of the State of the Cities Report saying that a Labor government would introduce a Minister for Cities, reintroduce the Major Cities Unit and ensure that an annual State of the Cities Report was released.

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