Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Assistant Minister Angus Taylor have announced the national Smart Cities Plan, aimed at channelling funding into the private sector to support innovative urban development.
Taylor was appointed as the coalition’s Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation in February this year and in April delivered a plenary to the spatial industry at the Locate16 conference. Taylor also explored the latest spatial technologies that the conference’s exhibition hall had to offer, and perhaps this had some influence on the release just weeks later of the Smart Cities Plan. The plan aims to deliver jobs closer to homes in ’30 minute cities’, with more affordable housing, better transport connections and healthy environments.
The 40 page Smart Cities Plan explains that this will be achieved by focussing on the three key areas of ‘Smart Investment’, ‘Smart Policy’, ‘Smart Technology.’ The plan also includes the establishment of an infrastructure financing unit to work closely with the private sector on innovative financing solutions, as well as $50 million of funding to accelerate planning and development works on major infrastructure projects to develop business cases and investment options.
The plan will not be limited to just Australia’s large capital cities. Assistant Minister Taylor said, “The Smart Cities Plan will also importantly target jobs growth for regional cities and outer metropolitan centres. Our regional cities need a strong platform for coordinated investment and planning.”
“The global lesson is that cities collaborate to compete. There’s a great incentive here for everyone to work together.”
On the other side of politics, shadow minister for cities Anthony Albanese condemned the Turnbull-Taylor plan as “a policy without substance.”
Paul Burton, Professor of Urban Management and Planning at Griffith University and Director of the Urban Research Program, approaches the plan with scepticism, however reports that “prospective partners in state and local government seem to have a fair degree of optimism about the plan.”
“The proof will, however, lie in the detail of partnership arrangements, in the implementation structures that are developed and in the way new money is allocated.”
“Even more importantly, success will depend on whether the actual measures employed work in practice.”
Have your say on the Smart Cities Plan at the DPMC website.