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Cities Agenda to focus on access to local jobs, affordable housing and liveability

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Release date: 04/03/2016

Media release

The Australian Government’s Cities Agenda will focus on improved access to quality local jobs, housing affordability, as well as the sustainability and amenity of our cities.

Addressing a Sydney Business Chamber conference today on transport links between the city and Western Sydney, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation The Hon Angus Taylor MP said the Cities Agenda was now a whole of government focus. 

“It’s an especially exciting time for me to be in this particular portfolio, with the Prime Minister bringing it into his own department, signalling the critical importance of cities to our nation’s wellbeing.

“Central to this portfolio is the need for high income local jobs. We’re seeing a rapid increase in high income jobs focused on innovation, involving complex problem solving and experience. These jobs tend to co-locate in clusters.

“London has thrived as a banking centre for centuries; it was a knowledge based city well before the knowledge sector was understood in the way it is today. High-tech clusters have grown around MIT in Boston and Stanford University in Northern California. And perhaps the most famous and successful example of clustering is Hollywood.

“As a nation we need to nurture and grow these clusters of high income jobs, for opportunity and prosperity, to support the aspirations of every Australian.

“But we can’t be naïve about the challenges this creates. With increased city density we are losing accessibility to local jobs. In our outer suburbs population growth is outpacing the delivery of jobs and services – and the same applies to our regional cities. Amenity and affordability are also seriously impacted.

“We need to use every policy lever of government – financial regulation, tax policy, immigration, environment, education policy, industry policy, infrastructure investment, even defence policy, to support and nurture these job clusters in our cities, as close as possible to where people live.

“We need to address housing affordability, not by constraining demand, but by increasing supply. And it is only by increasing supply that we will actually address the fundamental problem.

“We need to better understand the link between transport and development. We shouldn’t think about transport options based on the cost of moving someone from A to B. Instead we must recognise that housing developments and employment zones are heavily impacted by transport options and we need to focus on integrated developments. Thinking of infrastructure investments as part of a plan for housing, jobs and transport can lead us to very different solutions and very different financing options.

“Through our Cities Agenda, we will work with all levels of government, industry and community to ensure we have a coordinated and effective approach to long term planning. The UK Government has created a very powerful template for this, with their so-called ‘city deals’. These are deals for cities with targets, targeted initiatives and incentives – sharply focused on economic growth and quality of life.

“As a government we intend to work with willing jurisdictions on a bilateral basis to develop agreements to improve our cities. The agreements will be designed to improve the alignment of Commonwealth, State and Local Governments and provide a platform for co-operation and infrastructure investment.”


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