V/Line train going through level crossing. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Commuters help regions tap into city-driven growth

COMMENT: Long-distance commuting may help promote the development of regional cities by boosting local populations, skills and incomes, Todd Denham writes.

There is a strong geographic element to the transitions in the Australian economy that our prime minister so frequently refers to. Generally, the old economy, based on manufacturing, mining and agriculture, provided employment and opportunity in regional Australia, whereas the new jobs in knowledge-intensive industries are predominantly created in the centre of our largest cities.

The federal government’s recent Smart Cities Plan states:

Australia’s growth as a knowledge-based economy, and the prosperity this offers, goes hand in hand with the growth of our cities and the regions surrounding them.

But how does this growth in city-centric industries translate to regional growth?
Commuting may provide the answer.

That people travelling from regional areas to work in cities may distribute both financial and population growth was first proposed by Gunnar Myrdal in 1963. This applies particularly when this commuting is associated with the relocation of households from the cities.

More recently, the CLARA proposal bases regional development on high-speed city rail access and attracting commuters to new cities between Sydney and Melbourne.

In Victoria, the flight of city dwellers to picturesque regional cities and towns has received regular media coverage over the past decade. An example is the Northcote North phenomenon: 2006 Census data indicated most of the new residents of Castlemaine had relocated from Melbourne’s inner north.

Rise of the long-distance commuter

Census data also indicate that a significant number of these metropolitan escapees work in Melbourne. In Geelong, 2011 Census data show that more than 11,000 residents of the regional city travelled to work in Melbourne. That was nearly 13% of the city’s resident workforce.

This growth in commuting has occurred across Australia. Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said it’s no longer a steel city but “a lifestyle city” when proposing that Sydney commuters may help offset continued job losses at the local steel plant. He said more than 20,000 of the city’s residents commute to the New South Wales capital each day.

For cities like Wollongong and Geelong, commuting may provide important economic benefits as their traditional industrial strengths decline and even close.

The increase in regional-urban commuting can be seen as not just the result of the increase in well-paid employment towards the centre of our larger cities. Rising housing costs have also played a part.

In a recent interview, a new resident of Torquay said that, for similar prices, it was a choice between the beachside town and a new housing development on the outskirts of Melbourne. Other reasons for regional relocation include friends and family, rural amenity and work arrangements for other household members, but metropolitan housing costs appear to be a significant factor.

What do regions get out of this?

Regional-urban commuters’ access to well-paid employment is an important factor in spreading economic benefits. For example, about 30% of Geelong residents who earned more than $2,000 per week in 2011 worked in Melbourne.

It is also important to note that, in 2011, more than 50% of the Victorian regional-urban commuters had changed their place of residence in the preceding five years: people are moving to commute and bringing higher incomes and families with them. There is evidence to suggest that this additional income may lead to higher regional employment in retail and service industries.

However, research indicates that many people do not continue long-distance commuting for more than a few years. This can be attributed to the links between long-distance commuting and poor physical and mental health, family problems and reduced community engagement.

Economists suggest that when deciding to commute long distances, people are not good at evaluating the non-pecuniary costs of commuting and the higher wages associated with commuting do not fully compensate for these costs.

Regional-urban commuters are more likely to work in the growing knowledge-based industries than their regional counterparts, in the census categories information, media and telecommunications; financial and insurance services; and professional, scientific and technical services.

When commuters tire of the travel, should they continue to live regionally and seek local work, this may be more significant for regional growth than the impact of the additional income. Some of these people may start new businesses closer to home, or provide a labour pool for other businesses in the area.

A survey is under way asking regional-urban commuters about their work and considerations of change. Preliminary results indicate that the main reason people start regional-urban commuting is that their work is not available where they live. Many would work locally if they could.

The tendency for commuters to find or create local employment as they tire of the time spent in transit is central to understanding how regions can grow through interactions with larger cities.The Conversation

Todd Denham is a PhD Candidate at the School of Global, Urban & Social Studies at RMIT University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Constance to investigate rail technology on Asia trip

NSW transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance will visit Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo to learn more about the latest technology in metro and high speed railways.

Constance said after keen international interest in the Sydney Metro project he was interested to meet with some of the region’s leading rail operators, including Singapore operator SBS Transit, Hong Kong’s MTR, Japanese bullet train operator JR Central, and Tokyo Metro.

“NSW is the infrastructure capital of the world and there’s huge overseas interest to be part of our $73 billion program,” the minister said before he left for his trip on July 5.

“I want to make sure NSW has world class infrastructure and that is why I am travelling to Asia to learn from the best in the world.

“The infrastructure roundtables I will host will be an opportunity to showcase our ambitious infrastructure pipeline.”

Along with his meetings, Constance also plans to inspect the new Changi Airport site in Singapore.

“We are in an exciting time with plans for the Western Sydney Airport moving ahead,” he said. “As infrastructure minister I want the new airport to be at the forefront of technology and design.

The trip, which runs until July 14, will also include meetings with government officials.

Constance said he is keen to discuss signalling technology, ticketing, passenger management, high speed rail, transport and land use planning, and infrastructure project financing.

Canberra light rail. Graphic: ACT Government

Transport Canberra launched

ACT minister for transport and city services Meegan Fitzharris has launched the Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) Directorate, to bring together public transport and local services in the nation’s capital.

TCCS will bring together Canberra’s public transport services including bus, light rail and “active travel” under one umbrella.

“Over the last few months, there has been extensive work to prepare for the start of TCCS,” Fitzharris said.

“The directorate will continue this work to further improve customer services, including through the use of emerging technology.”

Emma Thomas, the former director general of the light rail project director Capital Metro Authority, will lead the TCCS team as its director general.

“TCCS will continue to manage and deliver the essential services Canberrans rely on each day, including our public libraries, recycling and waste services, road management, graffiti removal, shop and playground upgrades, maintenance of open public spaces including shopping centres, animal welfare and grass mowing,” Fitzharris explained.

“Through providing these vital city services and an integrated transport network, the new directorate will ensure Canberra remains a great place to live, work, study and relax.”

Australasian Railway Association boss Danny Broad said the new body represented a modern approach to transport.

“An efficient, affordable, reliable, safe and integrated public transport network is the beating heart of a city,” Broad said.

“It contributes to a city’s health and happiness, creates jobs and advances innovation and economic development initiatives.”

Broad stressed the importance of cities planning for future growth if they are to reduce congestion and enhance liveability.

“There must be an affordable and reliable alternative to driving and the establishment of Transport Canberra is a significant step in implementing this long term vision for the nation’s capital,” he continued.

“Although we recognise there are divergent views on public transport in the community, the ARA believes the debate should not be one about light rail versus bus, but rather how the two can best work together to provide the most efficient public transport system for Australia’s capital city.

“Concentrating investment in one mode of transport creates an unbalanced, inefficient transport system that cannot meet the growing needs of the population.”

Vic to launch central roads, rail body

Victoria’s transport system will soon be coordinated by a central agency, to be known as Transport for Victoria.

The Andrews Government will consult with key stakeholders over coming months ahead of the launch of TFV.

The government wants to have legislation in Parliament to establish the body later this year.

“Like Transport for London and major cities around the world, TFV will bring together the planning, coordination and operation of Victoria’s transport system and its agencies, including VicRoads and Public Transport Victoria,” the government said in its announcement.

“It will provide a single source for information about our road, train, tram, bus, taxi and freight networks, making it simpler and easier for Victorians to get information they need.”

Public transport minister Jacinta Allan said the new body would also assist in the delivery of major projects already underway, including the Metro Tunnel, Western Distributor tollroad, and the removal of fifty level crossings across the state’s rail network.

“This is the next evolution of the world-class transport system we are building for Victoria,” Allan began.

“A single, central, strategic body that coordinates our transport network and plans for its future.

“TFV will coordinate the delivery of our major transport projects with the day-to-day operation of our transport network, providing a single source of information so motorists and passengers can get home safer and sooner.”

The other key minister in this issue – roads minister Luke Donnellan – agreed a central agency would play a valuable role in the planning and development process.

“We need to stop thinking in terms of a road network and a train network and a tram network,” Donnellan said.

“We have a transport network, and we need a single transport agency to oversee it.

“As we grow into the biggest state in Australia, we need to have a smarter, more integrated transport system, where roads, public transport and freight work together to get people and goods where they need to go.”

Smart Cities Plan must let people have their say

COMMENT: Cities are home to many different people who will not always agree. We need to learn to embrace public debate as an ongoing, constructive process for working through diverse views and values, Crystal Legacy, Dallas RogersKristian Ruming, and Nicole Cook write.

The federal government’s Smart Cities Plan is framed around the “30-minute city”. In this city, journeys will take no more than half an hour, regardless of your location.

The recently released plan has significant implications for population, transport provision and land-use intensity in neighbourhoods – the places where people live and how they get around. The realisation of its goals will require ongoing densification of Australian suburbs.

Cities with more houses, more people, more NIMBYs

The doubling of the population in some Australian cities by 2045 is likely to generate fierce opposition to housing and transport projects.

Many medium-density housing projects prompt residents to act strategically to protect their neighbourhoods, even when these projects improve housing affordability and access to jobs and services.

Resistance is also directed at major infrastructure. Fierce campaigns are being (or have been) waged against Melbourne’s “sky rail” project and East West Link, Sydney’s ANZAC Parade light rail and Westconnex projects, and the Perth Freight Link.

Such opposition is not only felt through the planning system. Residents also use political channels to stop projects, as with the East West Link.

How should government respond to community resistance?

Contestation over city planning should not be shut down. Rather, we need to think about citizen opposition as a constructive process for working through difference. Here are five points to consider when including people in the delivery of the 30-minute city.

Point 1: We need active governments and active citizens

Private-sector lobbyists argue government is poorly placed to deliver small- and large-scale infrastructure. But think about a city with no roads, sewers, hospitals or schools. Without government-led planning, our cities would be dysfunctional places to live.

However, governments are not benevolent institutions. Active citizenries have long scrutinised the efficacy of government decisions.

The introduction of private and non-government infrastructure providers further complicates the relationship between citizens and governments. Whose interests does urban development then serve – a local community, regional community, or developers?

Governments need to be ready to answer questions about the role of the private sector and to change their plans following community input.

Point 2: More than finding better participation tools

Urban planning systems play important roles in engaging residents. However, community consultation has been sporadic. Neighbourhood meetings and letterbox notifications often fail to ignite engagement.

Then there is the question of representation. Community consultations attract the “usual suspects”. Time-poor working-age households and young professionals find it difficult to fit engagement with planning into their busy lives. Even more rarely does planning engage with youth and children about their visions and hopes for cities.

However, when planning departments use social media the uptake by communities is poor. Our research suggests opponents to planned projects, rather than planning departments, are more likely to use social media.Local and state governments are aware of the need for new ways to bring citizens into decision-making. Infrastructure Victoria’s citizen jury panels are meeting mid-2016. Social media is also being considered as a way to engage a broader public about city futures.

The problem with current participation tools is their failure to account for conversations, debates and protests that take place outside the formal planning process. We need ways to include these discussions.

Point 3: Moving beyond NIMBYism

Not all community campaigns are the same. The dominant narrative around community participation in urban planning centres on the pejorative idea of “the NIMBY” (not in my backyard).

The term NIMBY is frequently used to delegitimise the claims of citizens opposing planned developments. They are characterised as self-interested residents who resist the inclusion of new social groups in their neighbourhoods, or any change to the built or natural environment.

Deliberately labelling these residents as self-interested fails to recognise the positive roles they can play. Local resident campaigns can focus on city-wide or local issues. They can range from unwavering opposition to more flexible and reflexive engagement in an urban discussion.

Some community campaigns might be viewed as vital forms of urban citizenship. Others are seen as “protecting their patch” against the best interests of the broader citizenry. Both views should be part of our discussion about city planning.

Point 4: The conversation never stops

An active citizenry is involved in short-term “one-off” planning and long-term strategic planning. Too often, public participation roles are confined to one end of this spectrum. For example, the NSW government recently attempted to limit public participation to high-level strategic planning documents, reducing community input into individual developments.

Most people have little knowledge of the urban planning system. A recent study found only 24% of Sydney residents surveyed were aware of the Sydney metropolitan plan. Confining participation to upfront strategic consultation limits community involvement.

For most people, engagement with planning and development issues will be reactionary. People engage with the planning system when a development is proposed for their area.

However, a recent national survey revealed that 65% of responses believed urban residents should be involved in each stage of the strategy-making process. Most will not be involved, but options for participation should not be confined to upfront consultation.

By engaging the community in an ongoing discussion we can listen and respond to local interests without compromising the broader strategic and long-term vision for our cities.

Point 5: Metropolitan-wide but locally situated debate

There will be winners and losers in the 30-minute city. Houses will be acquired, buildings will be demolished and sections of the natural environment will make way for new infrastructure.

Over the last decade, the idea of consensus has dominated participatory approaches. However, consensus-seeking is not always the best way to work through community disagreement. In some cases, consensus can be manipulative, or useful for mobilising resident opposition.

We need to recognise that cities are home to many different people who hold diverse views and values, and who will not always agree. Rather than aiming for consensus, we should set our sights on metropolitan-wide, locally situated debate, which supports an active citizenry.

In the end, the difference between no action and implementation may be in “agreeing to disagree” through open discussion about the planning of the city.


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This article draws on research by the authors and recent discussions about a possible crisis of participation in Australian cities at a symposium in Sydney in April 2016.

The ConversationCrystal Legacy is an Australian Research Council (DECRA) Fellow and Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, Centre for Urban Research, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University. Dallas Rogers is Lecturer in Urban Studies, Western Sydney UniversityKristian Ruming is Associate Professor in Urban Geography, and Nicole Cook is Researcher, School of Geography, University of MelbourneThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Khan’s transport platform good for London

COMMENT: Pro-infrastructure and pro-enterprise, the newly-elected mayor has the policies to keep London a global financial centre, Nafis Alam writes.

Promoting economic development and “wealth creation” is one of the London mayor’s three main functions – alongside taking care of the city’s social and environmental development. The fact that London regularly tops major rankings of global financial centres is a key pillar of the city’s wealth. It’s a reason why international companies establish headquarters in London, providing jobs and wealth to the UK capital. And the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor bodes well for maintaining London’s status as a global financial centre.

Khan’s manifesto gave some insights into his plans for London’s economic development. He emphasised infrastructure as his main priority – the need to work closely with Westminster to secure big projects and improve the transport networks that will be key for London’s expansion and economic growth.

London’s connectivity has been a key factor in its historic success as a financial hub. Its transport links with the rest of the UK and internationally have enabled it to export its skills and wares to new markets, as they have emerged. Keeping this transport system up-to-date is crucial for accessing both markets and talent. It is fundamental to creating and supporting jobs, enabling the capital to continue to spearhead the UK’s economic growth.

London’s international air links are critical to the capital’s financial health, and indeed for the UK’s, economic success. London is currently at a competitive disadvantage as a result of its increasingly poor connections with growing markets in Asia and Latin America. The city’s airports are operating very close to capacity and expansion is something that the new mayor must oversee.

Where this expansion takes place, however, is still being debated. Khan is opposed to the business consensus of a third runway at Heathrow. On the one hand, his victory could make it easier for the government to force through a Heathrow expansion. On the other, it could provide a united front that challenges the government and gets a second runway at Gatwick airport built. Either way, expansion is imperative for the city’s economic well-being.

Business backing

Tellingly, the wider business community of the UK as a whole and specifically London has shown full faith in Khan as mayor. The Confederation of British Industry, the voice of big business, has said it looked forward to working with him on the issues required to retain London’s global financial competitiveness.

As well as the backing of big business, Khan has also pledged to foster a friendly environment for start-ups, particularly in the fields of financial technology (or fintech). The momentum of London’s FinTech ecosystem over the past few years has played a huge role in putting the capital’s tech scene on the global map, bringing more financial startups to the country. This kind of innovation plays an important role in London retaining its strong position in global financial competitive rankings.

Of course a major challenge that Khan must immediately weather is the EU referendum. A Brexit vote is projected to majorly dampen the UK economy and London’s in particular, in light of its reliance on the City and foreign investment.

Two in five of the 250 largest companies in the world with a main or European headquarters have it in London, according to a study by Deloitte. That is five times as many as pick Paris, the second most popular business city in Europe. And the gap grows even larger when looking at just the non-European companies, with 60% of them having their European headquarters in London. But there is no guarantee they will stay if Britain votes to leave the EU.

So the Khan victory is important for the campaign to stay in the EU and, ultimately, the capital’s economy. The new mayor is unashamedly in the remain camp. He pledged to “stand up for the City and financial services – starting by playing a leading role in the fight to keep Britain in Europe”.

A wider economic issue that Khan must tackle is housing and, specifically, affordable housing for all Londoners. Housing has become one of the city’s biggest problems in recent times – not just because of soaring prices and rents, but also because much of the stock being built is luxury flats. Khan has pledged that half of new housing construction in London should be affordable to people on average incomes.

London has the distinction of being a global financial centre – it is the business capital not just of Britain, but of Europe and in many ways the wider world. As the new mayor recognised:

Retaining our place at the top is not a given. We need to work hard together to stay competitive, to increase productivity, and to make the most of opportunities for growth in our traditional and new industries. And we need to make it possible for all Londoners to reach the top, regardless of their background, race, religion or gender.

If Khan delivers on his promises to improve the city’s infrastructure, allow new industries like fintech to flourish and increase the affordable housing that’s available, London will succeed in retaining its status as the go-to global financial centre.


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Nafis Alam is Associate Professor of Finance and director of the Centre for Islamic Business and Finance Research (CIBFR) at the University of Nottingham. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monash strikes deal with Jakarta MRT

Monash University’s Institute of Railway Technology will consult on at least $1.6 billion of investment by Mass Rapid Transport Jakarta, after the pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 13.

Under the MoU, the sides will work collaboratively on Indonesian infrastructure projects including the 14.5-kilometre mass rapid transit system under construction in Jakarta.

The memorandum was the result of a relationship held since 2015, when Monash IRT director Ravi Ravitharan visited Indonesia.

Ravitharan visited the Southeast Asian nation again last week, for a signing ceremony also attended by senior officials from MRT Jakarta and Victorian training and skills minister Steve Herbert.

“This is a great example of Victorian expertise and innovation playing a key role in what is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in our region,” Herbert said.

“Victoria has some of the world’s best universities and I congratulate Monash for striking such an important MoU with MRT Jakarta.”

Consultancy provided by IRT will include expertise in vehicle and track instrumentation, vehicle and train performance, condition monitoring, component testing and failure analysis.

Both parties will jointly develop technical standards, to aid future MRT operations and maintenance.

The IRT will also advise on strategic options for future MRT operation, and will provide technical advice relating to track maintenance, rolling stock and its instrumentation, and noise and vibration management.

“Monash IRT has an established track record in solving railway related technical issues, and its solutions have been adopted by railway systems throughout the world,” a statement from MRT Jakarta said.

“This institution is continuously developing new technologies to support increasing productivity and safety requirements at the same time as reducing risks and costs.”

The IRT evolved from BHP’s Melbourne Research Laboratories in January 2000, giving it an involvement in the railway industry of more than four decades.

New pricing plan a mixed bag for Opal commuters

There are pros and cons in store for public transport users in Sydney and surrounding areas, with a final set of recommendations for a new pricing scheme released on Tuesday.

IPART, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, has completed its major review of public transport fares on the Opal smart ticketing system, used on buses, trains, ferries and light rail in Sydney and surrounding networks.

The tribunal’s final recommendations set out the terms for Opal ticketing from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2019.

The major piece of good news for commuters is a $2 rebate will be given to Opal users when they switch between trains, buses, ferries or light rail on the same journey.

Under the current system, commuters are charged separate full fares when they switch between different modes of transport on a multi-leg journey.

In earlier drafts of this review, IPART recommended such journeys be rolled together and charged as a single trip.

But following advice from Transport for NSW that such a change would take more than three years to implement, the tribunal has recommended a $2 rebate system instead.

Another piece of good news: The existing off-peak discount for train fares will be increased from 30% to 40%.

Weekend travellers will benefit somewhat from another recommendation, which will see a lower $7.20 cap on travel on Saturdays (down from $15).

And now the bad news.

The new system will see commuters given just a 50% discount on travel after their first eight journeys each week.

This will, for most commuters, be an improvement on an earlier recommendation during this IPART review, which suggested customers pay for their ten most expensive journeys every week, and get the rest for free.

But it is certainly a downgrade on the existing system, which sees commuters get every journey free after their first eight each week.

Another piece of bad news – albeit more procedural – is that IPART recommended fares increase by 4.2% per annum over the next three years.

On top of that, the tribunal has recommended increasing the Adult daily cap on travel from $15 (Monday to Saturday) to $18 (Monday to Friday) – a change which will negatively impact some longer-commuting Monday-Friday workers.

It also recommended increasing the Sunday travel cap from $2.50 across the board to $7.50 for Adult card holders.

And seniors using the Gold Opal Card will now have their daily travel cap increased from $2.50 to $3.60.

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the recommendations were aimed at creating a more efficient, integrated transport system.

“Right now, the efficient cost of providing the rail, bus, ferry and light rail services in Sydney and surrounding areas is around $4.8 billion a year,” he explained.

“While operating costs per trip are reducing overall, total efficient costs will rise to around $5.6 billion a year by 2018/19.”

Boxall said some fare increases are therefore required to ensure rising costs are not borne entirely by taxpayers, but by those who use public transport the most.

“This determination means that fares will continue to cover around 25% of efficient costs, with taxpayers funding the remaining 75% reflecting the benefits public transport provides to the whole community such as reduced congestion and cleaner air.”

Opal is used on rail, bus, ferry and light rail services in Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter.

The final decision on how individual fares will change under the tribunal’s determination will be made by the NSW Government.

Labor to fund $1.5m Baxter rail study

A $1.5 million business case will investigate the duplication and electrification of the first 9.2 kilometres of Melbourne’s Stony Point railway line, if Labor wins at this year’s federal election.

The Stony Point line is a non-electrified single-track railway, extending 31 kilometres south from Frankston railway station, in Melbourne’s outer-southeast.

Frankston is the terminus of the Frankston line, an electrified, multi-track line which begins at the City Loop, and is serviced by a variety of electric multiple unit trains on the Metro Trains network.

Shadow transport and infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese announced on May 5 that Labor, if successful at the federal election on July 2, will provide the funding needed to investigate electrifying and duplicating the first portion of the Stony Point line, as far as Baxter station, 9.2 kilometres from Frankston.

“This vital project will be a game-changer for the whole region, and will entrench Frankston’s position as a new centre for jobs and growth,” Albanese said at a press conference at Baxter station.

“The funding will provide for the development of a full business case which can be submitted to Infrastructure Australia, consistent with Labor’s existing approach.”

Albanese said the project would build upon the $63 million Frankston Station Precinct Redevelopment being conducted by the Victorian Government.

“Labor’s partnership with the Andrews State Government in investing in the region is in sharp contrast to the Liberals’ approach of criticising from the sidelines,” he said.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne. Photo: Creative Commons / Adam J.W.C.

31 councils, one voice: Why Melbourne needs a Metro Commission

COMMENT: Governance of metropolitan Melbourne is fragmented among 31 city councils. All levels of government need to work towards creating a metropolitan authority to meet the challenges of a growing city, Martin Brennan writes.

City and local governments anchor our democracy. They do so by providing opportunities for local communities to address their interests and needs of living in the 21st century. To prepare for the next decade, the City of Melbourne has undertaken public consultations to refresh its strategic goals.

Melbourne City Council has a responsibility beyond those who live and do business in the city. Its capital city role and status have direct impacts across metropolitan Melbourne.

Future Melbourne 2026 provides an opportunity for the city council to recognise its role as a collaborative city. It should be proactive and acknowledge the role of the city across metropolitan Melbourne. This requires increased collaboration working toward a metropolitan authority where our collective futures lie.

All the metropolitan city councils need to work together to achieve a post-carbon and resilient future for all Melburnians.

Click to enlarge

Graphic: Live in Victoria / State of Victoria
Graphic: Live in Victoria / State of Victoria

Melbourne City Council has over recent decades developed and implemented polices to deliver a liveable and sustainable city. The council has set the bar high in undertaking work to become a post-carbon and resilient city. This has received national and international recognition.

The rapid growth of Melbourne’s metropolitan population, from its current 4.3 million to an anticipated 7.7 million by 2051, presents the challenge of working toward a sustainable region. Meeting energy, water, waste, transport and food needs will require whole-of-government collaboration between federal, state and local levels.

Models of metropolitan governance

An interim collaborative approach would encourage us to consider governance models such as the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC).

The London Assembly, which comprises 25 councillors plus the mayor of London, governs the GLA. With a population of eight million and encompassing 32 boroughs plus the City of London, the authority may well provide a blueprint for our future.

The New South Wales planning minister has established the GSC to promote the integration of state and local government decision-making for the Sydney metropolitan region. It is led by Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull, a former lord mayor of Sydney. The commission’s membership includes economic, social and environment commissioners, plus six district commissioners reflecting the interests of the current 41 local government authorities.

Starting the groundwork

The City of Melbourne should start the groundwork for a Greater Melbourne Authority.

The first step is to identify the city as a collaborative city in Future Melbourne 2026. This means working in partnership with metropolitan city councils to develop projects and activities that make progress towards a post-carbon and resilient region in energy, food, water, waste and transport.

An example of how Melbourne City Council has already initiated metropolitan action is “Resilient Melbourne”. The council delivers this Rockefeller Foundation-funded initiative in collaboration with the other 30 metropolitan city councils. The project began in 2014 and is developing a strategy to:

… foster the long-term viability, safety and wellness of our interconnected communities and municipalities.

The state can drive a metropolitan agenda through Plan Melbourne, the Victorian government’s planning strategy to 2050. It was released in 2014. In October 2015, the state Labor government announced an update known as Plan Melbourne Refresh.

The refresh has focused on climate change, housing affordability and updating Plan Melbourne to reflect current government transport commitments and priorities. In the foreword to Plan Melbourne Refresh, Planning Minister Richard Wynne writes:

I want to see us build a city that sets an example to the world for environmental sustainability, social equity, enhanced liveability and economic strength.

Such a vision will require the support and actions of all 31 Melbourne metropolitan city councils.

To achieve this vision we need to establish a Melbourne Metropolitan Commission. It would include representation from metropolitan city governments for collaborative decision-making to achieve integrated strategic planning for all Melburnians.

The ministerial advisory committee for Plan Melbourne Refresh recommended that the Metropolitan Planning Authority be retained. However, the board lacks authority, a broad agenda and local government representation.

The OECD’s 2015 report, Governing the City, presents a range of metropolitan governance arrangements. The report provides advice for cities seeking more effective co-ordination for strategic urban growth involving transport and spatial planning. The report says:

A governance model depends on the capability to address three principal challenges: co-ordination, action and trust.

Metropolitan Melbourne needs to provide for a population almost doubling in the next 35 years in a carbon-restrained world. It must be resilient to climatic, economic and social shocks. To achieve those goals, we will need a metropolitan governance structure that delivers a whole-of-city approach.


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Martin Brennan is Senior Research Fellow Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL), University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.