The Federal Government recently announced it will establish and resource a Major Cities Unit within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, renewing the Commonwealth’s focus on the nation’s cities, and more broadly, on urban development.
Minister Anthony Albanese made the announcement during an address to the annual conference of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Council (WESROC) on April 30.
He said Australia was one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with more than four out five Australians living in urban communities. Between 2001 and 2006 Australia’s capital cities contributed 78 per cent to the nation’s economic growth.
“At present our cities have to deal with a myriad of government departments, all of which can have a direct affect on their economic, social and environmental performance,” he said.
“A more coordinated and integrated approach is needed. The Major Cities Unit will provide just that.
“It will identify opportunities where Federal leadership can make a difference to the prosperity of our cities and the wellbeing of their residents.”
The Minister said he was keen to see a strong relationship develop between major cities and Infrastructure Australia, the new body charged with prioritising billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure around the nation.
The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) welcomed the decision to establish a Major Cities Unit. The council’s chairman, Michael Harbison, Lord Mayor of Adelaide, described the announcement as good news not just for the cities, but for the whole nation.
“The Rudd Government understands that Australia’s major cities are the nation’s gateway to the world, the engine rooms of economic growth, and the cradles of innovation and creativity,” he said in a statement.
“If Australia is going to stay internationally competitive then it is vital that our cities maintain and grow their international status.”
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