Cities policy presents opportunities for action

15 May 2020

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has welcomed the Australian Government’s long-awaited response yesterday to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities landmark report: Building Up and Moving Out.

GBCA CEO Davina Rooney said the response clearly establishes that it is time to refocus on cities as an engine of growth that can safeguard our prosperity and deliver Australians a better, more sustainable standard of living. 

“Tabled in Federal Parliament back in September 2018, Building Up and Moving Out was ambitious in its scope and presented a powerful catalogue of practical recommendations, widely supported by industry, that sensibly grapple with some of our most pressing policy issues at a regional, city, and local level,’ Ms Rooney said.   

“The challenges of population growth, service and infrastructure delivery across our cities are not easily resolved. These are only magnified when understood in the context of those climate, demographic and technological changes that are reshaping communities in regional and urban Australia.  

“Following the blackest of summers, and finding ourselves now in the midst of economic and health crises, it is more important than ever that we look to evidence-based policy, ready-made for governments based on widespread consultation.

“Building Up and Moving Out delivers this in spades and presents a rare opportunity for policy-makers to respond effectively to these challenges through a fresh understanding of the Australian Government’s role in cities.” 

Almost two years in the making, the Government’s response reinforces the need for a more ambitious policy agenda that proactively progresses the report’s recommendations.  The Government outlines ‘in-principle support’ for 17 (and ‘notes’ a further 17) of the report’s 37 recommendations, reflecting the strong evidence base and stakeholder support that underpins Building Up and Moving Out.

“The Government’s support for so much of the report warrants a more ambitious vision that continues to build on their successes to date,” Ms Rooney said.

“The GBCA supports the Government’s ongoing work delivering City Deals, the Centre for Population, and the National Cities Performance Framework.  Many of the report’s recommendations support, but also present important opportunities to further build on these government initiatives.    

“With infrastructure investment an increasingly powerful lever to drive productivity and safeguard jobs, the Government’s focus on the recommendations from this report should help ensure we maximise the value of this spend across the economy in the months ahead.

“We call for a continuing focus on those broader policy opportunities that transform the Government’s in-principle support into action. Addressing the often overlooked opportunities to improve government procurement, and to deliver better value for money for the taxpayer from our increasing infrastructure spend, are recommendations that demand an ongoing focus by governments at all levels.  

“We particularly welcome the Government’s explicit support for Recommendation 25 calling for the broader application of rating systems, such as Green Star, to urban regeneration. We look forward to providing our support for the Government’s commitment ‘to explore opportunities with state, territory and local governments to ensure that urban regeneration projects incorporate best practice environmental principles’.

“The GBCA is committed to more liveable, productive and sustainable communities across Australia. We will continue to work closely with the Government to realise this vision across our cities through practical, evidence-based policy like that recommended in Building Up and Moving Out.”