by Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Federal Government

City Deals are partnerships between the three levels of government, community and the private sector to work towards a shared vision for liveable cities. In the June issue of Infrastructure, Shadow Minister Andrew Giles declared that we need a new vision for cities. Here, Minister Paul Fletcher responds and outlines why the eight City Deals currently underway around Australia have been highly advantageous.

Anyone who watched the State of Origin Game One in Townsville saw the benefits of a City Deal first-hand – the spectacular Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

This stadium is the flagship project of the Townsville City Deal, an agreement signed by all three levels of government – Commonwealth, State and Local. It is just one of 154 commitments being delivered through eight City Deals. To date we have invested $8 billion through City Deals around Australia.

This new facility enabled Townsville, at short notice, to host this nationally important event, attracting visitors, dollars and attention. It is a good example of how investing in a city can boost local economic activity, and create extra vibrancy in the lives of its residents.

Through the Coalition’s City Deal framework, we are working in partnership with local leaders and state and territory decision makers to shape cities that are more active and better connected, digitally and physically, giving them a stronger sense of place and purpose.

Priorities based on specific city needs

City Deals have been agreed to date for Perth, Darwin, Adelaide, Geelong, Hobart, Launceston, Townsville and Western Sydney. We are working on future City Deals for South East Queensland, and North West Melbourne.

Each has benefited from the input of local leaders, informed by their day-today knowledge of their communities. Likewise, the momentum that builds when all levels of Government pursue a shared goal creates confidence in the private sector to get on board.

City Deals are specific to each city, as every city will have its own priorities and strengths. In some City Deals, university campuses are a key element. The University of Tasmania and Edith Cowan University have grasped the opportunity to collaborate with others on campus relocations, as part of the Launceston and Perth City Deals.

The urban renewal focus of the Hobart City Deal has played a role in encouraging the University of Tasmania to commit to a long-term master plan for the relocation of its campus from Sandy Bay into the Hobart CBD.

In Adelaide, an Innovation Hub, as part of the Entrepreneur and Innovation Centre, will bring together entrepreneurs, industry, universities and the public to support greater commercialisation of ideas and technology.

Townsville City Deal is delivering much more than a world-class sports stadium. For instance, an upgrade to the Port of Townsville approach channel will allow 3larger ships to service a growing export industry, positioning Townsville to become the economic gateway to Asia and Northern Australia.

Western parkland city

The Western Sydney City Deal has gained commitment from all levels of government to develop a highly connected Western Parkland City. That goal is supported by commitments such as a Digital Action Plan, a Smart Western City Program, a 5G Strategy and Trials, and Openly Available Data sets.

There is good progress on all these commitments. The key to this is crafting a new Western Parkland City, a vision that is set out in the Western Sydney City Deal and supported by major investments such as the Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport rail link.

This will integrate with the new airport itself, a $5.3 billion Australian Government investment that is well on track for official opening in late 2026. By 2031, the airport is expected to support around 28,000 jobs in areas as diverse as manufacturing, retail, professional, scientific and technical services.

Transport infrastructure connecting cities

While each of our City Deals are uniquely tailored to local needs, they all share a commitment to shaping a connected city. Transport infrastructure is core to creating connected cities.

In Perth, the new METRONET will better connect Perth’s suburbs, reduce congestion and meet the city’s future planning needs. This ambitious project will help pave the way for new urban communities, adding to the vibrancy of the greater Perth metropolis.

In Geelong, the Australian Government is investing $20.85 million into ‘Revitalising Central Geelong’ projects, with the creation of pedestrian and bike-orientated environments that will foster vibrant new spaces.

While the pandemic still poses a threat right around the world, the Australian economy is recovering strongly thanks to the policies of the Morrison Government.

Record spending on infrastructure is central to our Economic Recovery Plan; this includes our $8 billion investment in City Deals, which has leveraged an additional $8.8 billion in contributions from states and territories, local government, and private sector partnerships.

Curiously, the only solid suggestion about City Deals put forward by Andrew Giles in the June issue of Infrastructure magazine, was to re-name them City Partnerships.

Meanwhile the Morrison Government is sitting down at the table with local communities and state decisionmakers, and achieving practical results. These are genuine partnerships, not just in name, and around the country they are already delivering substantial results.

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