On Friday, Prime Minister Rudd announced that a Labor government would appoint a Minister for Cities. This is very welcome news. A federal champion is urgently needed to drive reforms that better connect urban policies and programs across all levels of government. This role in an expanded Major Cities Unit will bring much needed leadership and vision to the strategic planning of our cities and regions. The federal government must play a key role in ensuring our cities function as well as they can. The Institute urges the other parties to adopt similar strategies as well as to embrace a bipartisan approach, whatever the outcome of the election. The Institute has lobbied for the creation of such a role for many years, through its own policy activities as well as through its involvement with bodies such as the Urban Coalition and ASBEC. On a related note, as mentioned in our recent E-news, the Institute has surveyed the major Australian political parties in advance of this Saturday’s federal election. We asked them about their commitment to key issues for the profession, based on the Institute’s five policy priority topics. We asked them their views on creating an Australian Minister for Cities position, appointing an Australian Government Architect and establishing a Department for Cities and Urban Development. We also asked them:
- how they would support Australia in achieving world-class urban design and architecture
- their party’s position on adopting a national architecture policy, developed in consultation with the profession
- their commitment to facilitating energy efficiency in the buildings sector and their response to climate change.
We’ve also asked questions about housing issues, urban density and regulation. You can view their responses on our website. Following the election, the Institute will engage with the new government on our policy priorities and use their election survey response as a basis for conversation. Regardless of the election outcome, one of the issues that we will pursue in the early days of the new government, is the proposed $2000 cap to work related self education expense deductions. You can read about this issue as featured in our E-news of 5 August. I’d encourage all members who haven’t already done so, to please complete our short survey on this issue. Your feedback will be useful in shaping our message to the new government. The survey closes on 9 September.