Australia relies heavily on the productivity of its cities for national prosperity. The majority of our population and businesses are located in urban areas, and our cities are hubs of economic activity that link Australia to the global economy.
The rapid growth and development in these hubs has imposed challenges relating to patterns of growth, water supply, urban congestion, patterns of advantage and disadvantage, climate change and adaptation, and pressures on public finance. Australia's transport systems are especially struggling in the face of these challenges with public transport growing rapidly in recent years and reaching capacity limits in most major cities.
Looking to the future we face escalating energy costs, the need to reduce carbon emissions, and the need to adapt to unavoidable climate change.
Australia needs the development and coordination of urban action plans, significant investment in public transport networks, improved governance, and integrated long-term strategies to manage land use planning, density, population and urban congestion.
Urban regeneration, transit oriented developments, and planning that facilitates the use of public transport, walking and cycling as viable transport options will help ensure the sustainability, livability, and productivity of Australia's cities into the future.
Projects such as the Northbridge Link in Perth demonstrate an integrated transport and urban renewal approach. We can no longer plan cities around historic trends in traffic patterns. We must be proactive now. We must plan and act for the future.
Infrastructure Australia believes that, to maintain the economic success and environmental sustainability of Australia's cities, the time has come for an unprecedented commitment to the creation of world-class public transport in our cities.
Infrastructure Australia is therefore recommending, for the first time in Australian history, significant Australian Government investment in public transport in our cities.
A number of immediate priorities are identified, alongside a list of future public transport projects which, although still under development, show real potential to transform our cities.
Infrastructure Australia also recognised the importance of the efficient operation of the road network in our cities, and has identified Queensland's proposal for Fully Controlled Motorways as having real potential - including for development and implementation in other States.
Infrastructure Australia recommends targeted investment in innovative public transport systems which drive productivity and urban renewal in our major cities to maintain their economic success and environmental sustainability.
Investing in infrastructure in cities is not only costly, it is rarely reversible and can result in long-term social, economic and environmental costs that will be difficult recover. Therefore, urban and regional infrastructure should be underpinned by strategic plans that generate long-term productivity gains.
Infrastructure Australia initiatives include:
- National public transport strategy
Advice on new infrastructure and better use of existing public transport system in each capital city, along with advice on high speed rail.
- National urban roads network
Similar to the National Public Transport Strategy, this will identify major missing road links in capital cities that would have the greatest impact on reducing congestion.
- Managed motorways
An initiative with state governments to agree and implement a national strategy for improved road flow management and safety.
- Congestion pricing
Advice to the government on the benefits, costs and challenges of introducing a successful congestion pricing scheme on Australia's most stressed roads.
National Urban Policy
On 18 May 2011, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport released Our Cities, Our Future: A National Urban Policy for a productive, sustainable and liveable future.
The National Urban Policy sets in place the Australian Government's objectives and directions for our cities as we prepare for the decades ahead. It recognises the critical roles that State, Territory and Local Governments, the private sector and individuals play in planning, managing and investing in cities. It also highlights that the Australian Government makes decisions that impact upon urban Australia.
This is the first time that an Australian Government has sought to outline its overarching goals for the nation's cities and how it will play a role in making them more productive, sustainable and liveable.
The National Urban Policy was produced by the Major Cities Unit in collaboration with government, industry and the community.
The Major Cities Unit is a division of the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport, under the Hon Anthony Albanese MP. It provides coordinated action across government, the private sector and the community, to help secure the nation's economic, environmental and social wellbeing in our major cities. It oversees the implementation of the Australian Government's National Urban Policy and produces the annual State of Australian Cities report which provides a snapshot of Australia's cities and highlights the significant changes and challenges that they are experiencing.
For more information visit the Unit's website: www.majorcities.gov.au.