Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, yesterday talked about Australia's love affair with air conditioners.

"We love our air-conditioners, with use doubling in recent years," he said.

"Their use has negated all the improvements we have seen from more efficient household appliances.

"While Europe and the USA show signs of a levelling-off of per capita energy use—and therefore emissions—there is no sign that this is happening here in Australia."

He said the overriding evidence is that Australian cities are getting hotter with last summer the hottest on record.

Launching the 2013 edition of the State of Australian Cities, he said January 4 this year was the hottest day the country has ever recorded.

"For the first time since records began there were seven consecutive days with maximum temperatures above 39 degrees Celsius right across the country," Albanese said.

"It is good to see the active steps councils and state governments are taking to address the heating of our cities.

"Brisbane City Council has a program to increase its tree canopy by 40 per cent by 2026 while South Australia is well on the way to meeting its target of three million new native plants in the ground by next year."
Albanese said a rise of one degree Celsius increases the use of air-conditioners by five per cent.

He said Australia is the most urbanised nation on the planet with cities generating 80 per cent of the national wealth.

"This is why a national Government must be engaged in our cities as an essential component of promoting the national interest," he said.

As a result the federal government has created the Major Cities Unit and launched a national urban policy called Our Cities, Our Future.

"We established the Urban Policy Forum to drive the policy implementation," Albanese said.

"This established a framework to improve the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our 18 major cities.

"We also introduced a Liveable Cities program where more than $70 million has been provided for a raft of projects around the country that demonstrate best practice in urban design and liveability.

"Sure, our cities—Sydney included—continue to sit towards the top of world rankings.

"But within them are vastly different areas of opportunity, education and income levels, industry structures, and travel and workforce patterns."

Albanese said this edition shines a revealing and sometimes uncomfortable spotlight on those differing areas of advantage.

He said it proves that postcodes do matter.

"For policy makers, business people and government authorities this information is, I believe, extremely valuable," Albanese said.

"The online edition links to a mapping tool with more than 600 maps, each with several levels of statistical information.

"On the employment front, for the first time construction now contributes more to the Australian economy than manufacturing, and is the biggest employer of Australian men."

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