Transcript - Committee for Capital Cities, Canberra

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Acknowledgement of Country 

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet – the Ngunnawal people – and I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging, along with all other First Nations people who are joining us today. 

Our great cities are built on lands that have been cared for and protected by Indigenous Australians for countless generations. 

I am heartened by the work you are all doing to recognise these histories in the places where you live, and recognising the work that Indigenous Australians still do to make our cities liveable, vibrant and engaging. 


It is my pleasure to join you here today to discuss our vibrant, diverse capital cities. 

In our popular imagining, Australia is a country of the beach and the outback, of farm fields and untouched wilderness.  

It is all of things, but, importantly and increasingly, we are also an urban country. 

Two in every three Australians live in a capital city. 

Sydney, Melbourne and the broader South East Queensland region together accounted for around 75 per cent of population growth over the last three years. 

Over the last decade, 85 per cent of total population growth has been in the capitals. 

Our cities are the engine rooms of innovation, education, health and opportunity – producing close to 70 per cent of our GDP. 

 What these facts mean is we need to set the frameworks and co-invest in the projects that will build upon the natural advantages of our largest cities – projects that will make our cities more productive, more sustainable, and simply better places to live. 

The role of the Australian Government in urban policy 

Recognising the importance of our cities, since being elected just over two years ago, our government has set about reshaping our engagement with urban Australia.  

The draft National Urban Policy Framework, which is currently out for public consultation, crystallises this approach.  

It lays out the Commonwealth Government’s vision for our largest cities and poses new ways of working, developing policy and funding programs in partnership with industry, other levels of government and the community to achieve this vision. 

Our approach is centred around a core goal of shaping cities that are liveable, equitable, productive, sustainable and resilient.  

This includes in inner city communities, where pressure on existing amenities is being felt, to new outer suburban communities, where new housing growth requires entirely new investments in infrastructure and services.  

And the draft policy goes beyond simply these goals to core objectives: 

  • No-one and no place left behind 
  • All people belong and are welcome 
  • Our urban areas are safe 
  • Our urban areas are sustainable 
  • Our urban environments and communities promote health and wellbeing 
  • Our urban areas promote productivity. 

I encourage you all to engage with the consultation work on this draft policy – the most comprehensive urban policy framework since the now-Prime Minister released his National Urban Policy over a decade ago. 

Capturing the unique insights of advocate for our capital cities is key to a final policy approach which responds to the challenges on the ground. 

Instead of simply reciting for you today the core features of our National Urban Policy – I want to share some of the ways this renewed approach to urban policy and thinking is already shaping the work of the Albanese Government. 


I know housing is front and centre in your work as advocates, and it’s front and centre in the work of the Australian Government too. 

We know that more housing supply is key to ensuring more Australians have access to affordable housing. 

My colleague Housing Minister Julie Collins is leading on a range of critical policy approaches there – the $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator, the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Accord for instance. 

In my portfolio space, I am working on two key levers – enabling infrastructure and planning reform. 

Enabling Infrastructure 

Too often we have heard the new housing is ready to go, but the infrastructure, amenities and community spaces aren’t ready. 

The Albanese Labor Government has now put nearly $1.5 billion on the table to unstick the enabling infrastructure pipeline. 

Through the Housing Support Program and its Priority Works Stream, we are partnering with state, territory and local governments to ensure local roads, utility connections and community infrastructure are developed alongside new housing. 

I recently visited the Boyd development in Southbank with Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp.

This was a fantastic development – combining new build to rent housing in an area already well served by public transport and with the necessary community infrastructure developed alongside it – library facilities, a brand new piece of open space and a nearby dedicated dog park. 

We know that when new housing is supported with new infrastructure and new services, we are creating better places to live. That’s what our contributions to enabling infrastructure through these programs are set to do. 

Planning Reforms 

When it comes to planning reforms, we know that these systems are important guard rails for the development of our cities. But we also know that planning system reform is an essential part of getting more housing on the ground in the right places. 

That’s why, through the Commonwealth and State Planning Ministers Meeting I convene, we have developed the Planning Reform Blueprint.

This reform agenda has been committed to be all state and territory governments and addresses key issues like housing targets, social housing approval pathways and skills gaps. 

It’s why the Australian Government funded the planning stream of the Housing Support Program, which provides $50 million for state, territory and local government to try new planning approaches.

From getting more people into the industry, getting planning settings right and accommodating new housing targets in existing plans.  

Climate Change 

Another component of our National Urban Policy – the aspiration that our urban areas are sustainable – is already shaping the Albanese Government’s policy responses. 

To guide our cities’ transition to net zero, the Net Zero Roadmap and Action Plan is being completed which will cover all transport modes and enabling technologies to support the transition—which is of course a shared responsibility between all governments, industry, and communities.  

Building upon government policies that are already accelerating the transition, this Roadmap is intended to identify tangible and achievable changes that are economically responsible, create jobs and ease cost of living.  

One of the key objectives of our Government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy is also to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support the uptake of electric vehicles, this is includes the $500 million Driving the Nation Fund and the National EV Charging Network. 

We are also making important investments in projects to green our cities, from the Greenline in Melbourne to the Darwin Living Lab.  

These are two projects co-funded by Australian Government which are improving tree canopy, promoting pedestrian and cycling movement in our cities and making urban communities more liveable. 

I have been lucky to visit both in recent months and see how these place-based approaches to addressing climate change are shaping results in our cities. 

Urban Precincts and Partnerships 

These place-based investments are set to continue with the opening of the Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program.

The Australian Government committed $150 million over three years, to support the priorities of urban communities through the UPPP.

This fund is open to capital cities, such as those you advocate for, to deliver transformational projects. 

 This funding will support proofs of concept for new types of urban precincts – from new industrial hubs which support new ways of working in our cities to new housing precincts which may co-locate affordable housing with different services and amenities.

Key to these precincts are the concept of partnership, multiple users and owners coming together to enact a vision for a place. 

I am excited to see what types of project this funding opportunity uncovers.

We are looking for projects which build upon the vibrancy of a city, develop arts and cultural capacity, build on the night time economy and improve amenity. 

We’ve also released Forecast Funding Opportunities for the new Thriving Suburbs Program, which will support local community infrastructure, particularly in our rapidly growing suburban communities.

So that our capital cities have access to the libraries, community centres, sports facilities and cultural institutions to be great places to live.  


I am proud that the Albanese Government has reengaged with the cities agenda, developing a new policy approach in partnership with stakeholders like yourselves and already funding new projects and policy initiatives which build on the principles of the National Urban Policy. 

Capital cities like yours are essential to the success of our nation and our Government is taking their development seriously. 

Now, with all that said, I welcome the chance to move to a more open discussion.