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Budget needs to deliver a plan for Australia's growing cities

Amid the debate about how Australia manages its growing population, next week’s Federal Budget is a critical opportunity for the Turnbull Government to articulate its plan to shape Australia’s cities for a successful future.

‘The Government’s enthusiasm for ‘congestion-busting infrastructure’ is welcome, and no doubt we’ll see more of these projects supported in the last Budget before the next election,’ said Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia.

‘However, these projects all need to be part of something bigger:  a focused national effort to create great Australian cities that provide the jobs, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities and quality of life that Australians want at all of their life stages.

‘New roads and rail lines are essential pieces of our infrastructure, but they are not the whole answer for our growing cities and in some cases these projects are filling an infrastructure deficit rather than planning for growth,’ Mr Morrison said.

Most of our future population growth will occur in our four largest cities. Planning for this growth should be a national priority involving the Commonwealth, State and Territory and local governments.

‘The solution to congestion, housing affordability and liveability is better strategy and delivery across all levels of government to create the kind of cities Australians want to live in,’ Mr Morrison said. 

‘The answer does not rest with ‘quick fixes’ such as cutting immigration levels as some have recently suggested.

‘We need to accept that Australia – and our cities in particular – are growing, and that with good policy, smart thinking and the right incentives, we can manage this growth in a way which builds thriving, prosperous and inclusive communities.

The Property Council has supported the Turnbull Government’s City Deals initiative as a smart policy approach to powering the development of our cities.

‘City Deals have been developed or are planned for Launceston, Townsville, Western Sydney and Perth while Geelong and Hobart are also on the cards - but to really make a difference we need to see them as part of a concerted national plan,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘Next week’s Budget is an opportunity to make these City Deals ‘the real deal’ through an expanded policy agenda for cities and with funding and reforms for each of our capital cities, as well as incentive payments to encourage states and territories to improve housing supply and affordability,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘The Australian property industry is already leading the way in building innovative and sustainable urban communities to meet the needs of current and future generations – we’re also looking to all levels of government to put the right policy settings in place so that our cities grow successfully,’ Mr Morrison said.

The Property Council will be launching a major project in late May to stimulate more discussion about the future of our cities and what we need to do make great cities for Australia. The project has been informed by extensive consultation in Australia and international insights.

Media contact: Matt Francis | M 0467 777 220 | E mfrancis@propertycouncil.com.au