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How do we create a great capital for our nation?

A major new research project commissioned by the Property Council of Australia has highlighted the challenges facing Australian cities in the ‘metropolitan century’.

Professor Greg Clark and Dr Tim Moonen from the Business of Cities Ltd will present on the findings of their research and discuss their recommendations at a Property Council lunch today in Canberra, Wednesday 23 May.

Professor Clark will also meet leading Government and Opposition MPs during his visit to engage with policy makers about the future of our cities.

The ‘Creating Great Australian Cities’ project warns that Australia’s major cities risk heading towards a low amenity, low liveability future unless all levels of government, business and the community work together to rethink and refresh how we plan, build and manage our urban areas.

The project comprises four comprehensive papers on global city megatrends and disruptors; benchmarking of Australia’s five largest cities with their global peers; lessons from international case studies; and, recommendations on the policy toolkit for creating great Australian cities. The reports have been authored by Professor Greg Clark and Dr Tim Moonen of The Business of Cities Ltd.

Australia is not alone in facing the challenges of growing cities, although our major cities will grow year on year at above-OECD averages over the next 30 years.

Australia’s population is set to increase from 25 million to 36 million and three-quarters of this growth will happen in just four of our major cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The research project shows that Australia’s largest cities have inherited many unique strengths and are internationally highly regarded. But, their brand reputation is stronger than their actual performance in critical areas.

Population growth in Australian cities is outstripping the capacity of their infrastructure systems, housing supply and metropolitan governance. Australian cities are less well served than their international peers by high capacity infrastructure and are less coordinated and less well-managed.

Our big cities need metropolitan infrastructure, new urban forms, better governance and new policy tools if the rapid population growth and the economic transition underway in our cities is to be well-managed.

Professor Greg Clark said there is a clear challenge for Australian cities to match their brand appeal of great lifestyle and opportunity with systems of management, investment and coordination and reform that equip them for the century ahead.

‘Australia is not alone in facing up to these challenges,’ Professor Clark said.

‘All of the great cities of the 21st century have been through some version of this trek. Australian cities are starting from further behind, but they can also benefit from the experience of comparable cities around the world.

‘Australians are being challenged to rethink their traditional ideas about their cities, including a future that involves shifting from the low-density sprawl of the past to high quality, medium density living.

‘Addressing the challenges and opportunities of the metropolitan century is not just an agenda for politicians, urbanists, metropolitan elites or city planners.

‘It needs to be a national project that touches every aspect of public life and demands the support of every Australian,’ Professor Clark said.

ACT Executive Director of the Property Council, Adina Cirson said Creating Great Australian Cities was designed to stimulate debate among policy-makers, business and the community on the future of our cities.

‘There are important lessons for Canberra from this study, including international case studies on how other cities have managed the transitions which are underway globally in our urban communities,’ Ms Cirson said.

‘More than 90 per cent of Australians live in urban areas. This discussion is absolutely vital to the future prosperity and liveability of our cities,’ Ms Cirson said.

Professor Greg Clark is the keynote speaker at the Property Council of Australia event at the National Museum of Australia from 12-2pm on Wednesday 23 May.

The ‘Creating Great Australian Cities’ reports can be downloaded at www.propertycouncil.com.au/greatcities

Media contact: Adina Cirson | M 0429 579 972 | E acirson@propertycouncil.com.au