State of Australian Cities 2011 report ignites frustrations from Greens

“We need better cities for the people who live in them, for the people who work in them and for the people who depend on them.” Anthony Albanese MP, 20 October 2011.

On 20 October, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, launched the State of Australian Cities 2011 report. Addressing a Brisbane audience, Mr Albanese outlined key findings of the report and drew attention to the fact that residents of Australia’s 18 major cities are using less electricity, opting for public transport, producing less household waste and reshaping how the traditional family unit is run.

Expanding on issues discussed in the inaugural State of Australian Cities 2010 report and building upon data from the 2006 Census and information gathered from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, State of Australian Cities 2011 provides an extensive list of actions to be implemented before 1 January 2012 to ensure a commitment to produce a yearly report on the progress of the cities towards improved productivity, sustainability and liveability is met.

“The purpose of the report is to inform policy and investment decisions that have a direct impact on urban communities; to record the trends in urban development; and to educate the wider community about the facts that are shaping not only the way cities are planned and built, but also the Australian urban way of life,” states the report.

Covering matters of population, productivity, sustainability, liveability and governance, the report presents some fundamental findings detailing the state of growth and change in Australia’s major cities. These include:

  • Population: The Australian population has grown by 3 million in the past decade with the majority of migrants settling in either Sydney or Melbourne.
  • Productivity: Australia’s major cities account for 80 per cent of the nation’s economic activity with 50 to 70 per cent of jobs being in the outer suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Mining has now overtaken manufacturing as the nation’s second biggest industry after finance.
  • Sustainability: Since 2006, Australians have been consuming less energy per capita. The main use of water in Australian cities continues to be in the residential sector.
  • Liveability: Australia’s largest cities are in the top 10 of most global liveability rankings. Melbourne was ranked as the world’s most liveable city by the Economic Intelligence Units Global Liveability Survey; and
  • Governance: Revisions to ministerial council arrangements under COAG have seen the establishment of a new Standing Committee on Transport and Infrastructure.

Shortly after the Minister launched his report, Greens sustainable cities and transport spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, voiced some frustrations concerning policy inconsistencies. “This is a tiny, $20 million down-payment on more liveable, prosperous and sustainable cities. It will offer grants of up to $500,000 for innovative planning and design initiatives and up to four million dollars for demonstration projects. It is a good initiative, but we are long past time for prototypes and pilot projects,” he said, “”It should be noted though that the Minister has given with one hand and taken away with the other. This budget he not only discontinued the eerily similar program called ‘Green Precincts’, worth $15 million for exemplary sustainable buildings in each capital city, but bizarrely dumped federal funding for urban water efficiency initiatives and rebates for rainwater tanks and greywater systems for example.”

The State of Australian Cities 2011 report and its program are open to eligible applicants located in one of the 18 Major Cities covered by the National Urban Policy. These are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast-Tweed, Newcastle, Canberra-Queanbeyan, Wollongong, Sunshine Coast, Hobart, Geelong, Townsville, Cairns, Toowoomba, Darwin, Launceston and Albury-Wodonga.

 

Image courtesy of photologue_np

http://www.flickr.com/people/44313045@N08/

 

To read the Minister’s speech in full, see: http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/releases/2011/October/AA188_2011.aspx

Learn more about Senator Ludlam’s rebuttal at: http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/growing-demand-public-transport-must-fuel-real-budget-reform

 

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