New Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Jamie Briggs has created a Cities and Built Environment Taskforce with a prediction that Sydney and Melbourne will be as big as New York in years to come.
Sydney’s population is nearly 5 million and Melbourne is not far behind. New York has around 8.5 million residents.
The taskforce will analyse public transport funding and improve the integration of city planning, while also paying attention to urban water systems and environmental programs.
Mr Briggs told The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan last week that one of the biggest challenges cities faced was attracting and retain global talent.
“Talent will go where it’s attractive for them to: where the job opportunities are and where their lifestyle will be better suited,” Mr Briggs said.
“We need cities which have got accessible housing, which is affordable [and] amenity to support that housing, clean and green environments that increasingly use a renewable focus on power to attract that talent.”
The inclusion of public transport in his portfolio is a major departure from under Tony Abbott, when roads were in but public transport was most definitely out.
Mr Briggs said that about 80 per cent of Australian jobs were in Australia’s major capital cities and GDP and a large portion of Australia’s GDP was created from within 10kms of major capital cities.
“Our data shows that we are going to have in coming years – in cities like Melbourne and Sydney -cities the size of New York.”
Mr Briggs said the federal government had a role in keeping cities moving, making sure they are clean and liveable.
The Cities and Built Environment Task Force that will be headed by the deputy secretary of environment protection in the Environment Department, Malcolm Thompson, to help make it a cross-government initiative.
The 20-strong taskforce will include employees from the Environment Department and the Infrastructure Department with involvement from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and the Department of Communications.
Malcolm Turnbull’s agenda for cities has three main policy goals: integrated planning, infrastructure funding and ‘greening’ cities.
Proposals are slated to go to Cabinet later this year.