Managing the development, redevelopment and allocation of land for different uses in Australia’s cities
Urban policy frameworks in Australia feature provisions for the development and use of land. The re-zoning of land on the urban fringe and the redevelopment and subdivision of property in existing urban areas, especially for new or more intensive residential use, is essential to accommodating urbanization and the dynamic populations of Australian cities.
City policies typically focus on managing urban systems and functions, like transport networks and housing markets, or pursue outcomes, measured in social, environmental or economic terms. Cities also have a cultural dimension that is harder to quantify and integrate into policy frameworks and governance arrangements. Ultimately, cities exist as physical places that are imbued with layers of meaning, only some of which are addressed in the traditional domains of urban policy.
Cities are the main contributor to Australia’s economy generating around 80 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Facilitating economic growth is the most prominent rationale in urban policies to shape the development of Australia’s cities. Visions for economic transition and future growth are captured in the 2016 Smart Cities Plan focusing on investment, policy coordination and new technology.
In-depth considerations of Indigenous perspectives are notably absent in Australian urban policies beyond acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. The Federal Government’s flagship Smart Cities Plan does not mention the term Indigenous or Aboriginal throughout the entire document.
Over seventeen million Australians—around 67 per cent of the total population—live in the nation’s capital cities. Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (our largest cities) are growing most rapidly, with Melbourne’s population increasing by 2.3% in 2018-19, followed closely by Brisbane (2.1%) and Sydney (1.7%); across all capital cities the population grew by 1.8%.