In the leadup to the federal election this month, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has called for the reappointment of a Minister for Cities and the re-establishment of a Major Cities Unit within the Australian government.

Back in the year 2017 Australia had a Minister for Cities and a Cities Reference Group which comprised leading thinkers on issues relating to Australian cities. However, it all came to an end following a change of leadership and cabinet reshuffle.

Releasing its Thriving Cities policy platform earlier today, ASBEC professor, Ken Maher, said Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, and this is set to continue to keep pace with population and economic growth.

He said this Federal Election comes in the wake of a clear multi-party consensus on the importance of a national approach to cities policy that delivers for all Australians.

“With almost 90% of Australians living in urban areas, there is great pressure on our cities to support the livelihoods, health and wellbeing of our population,” Maher said.

From capital cities and outer urban growth areas to regional centres across Australia, ASBEC said a coordinated, national approach to urban policy is needed to tackle the most intractable challenges associated with population settlement, productivity, climate and demographic change, and a low-carbon future.

Chair of ASBEC's cities and infrastructure task group, Jonathan Cartledge, said in recent years there has been incredible collaboration across governments and with industry and communities around Australia to deliver better cities.

“ASBEC’s recommendations provide a roadmap for that collaboration to continue and the benefits to grow,” he said.

ASBEC calls for commitment to a shared long-term vision for thriving cities, supported by targeted policy reforms to foster the best possible Australian cities.  Key actions are:

1. Investing in improved policy and governance, including a National Settlement Strategy and better procurement.

2. Delivering more balanced business cases to realise better value from our infrastructure.

3. Improving housing outcomes for more affordable, equitable and sustainable living.

4. Adopting key recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee Building Up and Moving Out report.


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