Australia needs a strategy to guide future growth.
It’s not the size of the population that matters, but rather it’s the characteristics and distribution of the population that is important. This is a pressing matter as Australia continues to grow and our society evolves.
That why’s the Institute supports a range of recommendations made in a new report Building Up and Moving Out, which calls for the development of a national plan of settlement for Australia to provide a holistic strategy to guide Australia’s future growth and help ensure prosperity, sustainability and liveability.
The report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, articulates the need for Australia’s cities and regions to be better planned, better connected, more compact, more diverse and more sustainable over the next 50 years and beyond.
It also highlights the profound changes Australian communities are – and will continue – to experience because of population growth, urbanisation, an ageing population and an evolving economy, setting the national agenda to connect, reinvigorate and integrate cities and regions.
A national approach is needed to ensure Australia continues to prosper. The report recommends better governance arrangements between state, territory and federal governments, an accelerated City Deals program, stronger Commonwealth engagement in master planning at a national level, the formation of city commissions, as well as a national institute for cities research.
It also reinforces the need to attract and retain populations outside in our regions. To make this work, we need to implement strategies that ensure we have access to adequate schools, hospitals, housing, employment opportunities, transport and telecommunications.
The Institute welcomes the concept of a new governance model, bringing together all jurisdictions and to introduce better connectivity between cities and regions, through transport and telecommunications networks.
Furthermore, strategic, long-term infrastructure investment provides the Australian government with the opportunity to have the biggest impact. We also support recommendations that our cities should be a national policy priority and that a senior minister for housing be appointed together with a Cabinet Minister for Cities and National Settlement together with the creation of a statutory Office of a National Chief Planner and Cities & Regional Development NGO Roundtable.
These measures should be complemented by the appointment of a Federal Government Architect.
Importantly, the Committee recommended that the Australian Government consider master plans for major cities and regions and re-endorse Creating Places for People: An Urban Design Protocol for Australian Cities and provide financial support for the purposes of maintaining and promoting these design principles.
The Institute has, in the past, called for policies and programs to provide affordable, sustainable and high amenity housing. This can be achieved through clever design strategies, including smaller, energy-efficient dwellings; cost-effective, space-efficient and quality-controlled mass housing; and the adaptation of existing housing stock to accommodate multi-generational families and support ageing-in-place.
To this end, we strongly support a focus on multi-residential developments and urban consolidation as the sustainable and affordable solution to the increasing demand for housing in dense urban environments.