City-building is federal government business

As Australia is confronted with significant long-term challenges, the Australian Government must elevate its role in city-shaping.

As Australia is confronted with significant long-term challenges, the Australian Government must elevate its role in city-shaping, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Speaking at the House of Representatives’ inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities, the GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said a host of issues, from population growth to transport congestion, and from housing affordability to resilience to climate change, “have the potential to permanently shape our nation”.

“Our cities can provide some of the most efficient, highest impact and lowest cost solutions to these issues. But all demand a commitment to collaboration to deliver smarter policy, planning and decision making, and a focus on creating value through joined-up government thinking and collaboration with industry,” Ms Madew said.

“Governments around Australia have demonstrated their commitment to green buildings by introducing energy efficiency legislation and green building tax breaks, and through upgrading building and planning codes.

“Industry has displayed its leadership by defining projects through their green credentials such as Green Star, and today 37 per cent of CBD office space is Green Star-certified.

“But there is a perversity in the development of our cities. While we try to overcome their greatest challenges and grapple with significant policy issues, we are at the same time making our cities worse by repeating the same mistakes that gave rise to these problems in the first place.

“Our cities function over generations, and as systems, so we must look more broadly to understand the opportunities and challenges they create for governments.

“But government alone cannot provide all the solutions. Instead, the aim should be to develop a collaborative, coordinated partnership approach between all levels of government, industry and the community.”

The GBCA’s submission to the inquiry outlined the GBCA’s five key policy priorities which advocate a coordinated approach to city-shaping. These are:

  1. Achieve more productive, liveable, sustainable and healthy cities
  2. Secure more resilient communities
  3. Deliver a low carbon, high performing built environment
  4. Raise standards through the National Construction Code
  5. Facilitate sustainable utility infrastructure.

“The role of industry is particularly important, as, in the majority of cases, industry designs and constructs our buildings and the settings for our communities and cities.

“We are buoyed by the enormous opportunities for our cities – and look forward to working collaboratively with governments and parliaments across Australia to make our cities better.”