As one of the world’s most urbanised countries, an urban policy is very important for the future of Australia's cities.
Statistics estimate that around 40 per cent of Australians live in just two cities, Sydney and Melbourne, while 89 per cent live in the country’s 18 cities of 100,000 people or more.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese recently released The State of Australian Cities 2013 report, which includes current research from the 2011 Census.
The report, the fourth in a series of annual documents compiled by the Australian government, aims to deliver a comprehensive snapshot of Australian cities.
The State of Australian Cities 2013 details the evolution in urban population and settlement and studies indicators relating to productivity, sustainability and liveability. It also examines governance in Australia’s 18 major cities and offers an evaluation of the cities’ progress in implementing the National Urban Policy.
“While Australia’s major cities remain among the world’s most liveable with bicycle use at the highest level in 40 years, changing work-force patterns pose future challenges for transport infrastructure planning,”Albanese said. “Those are a few of the trends detailed in the State of Australian Cities 2013 report which I’ve released today. Compiled by the Major Cities Unit within my Department, this latest ‘report card’ builds on the previous three, providing an even more comprehensive analysis of the progress and performance of the nation’s 18 biggest cities.”
Australia’s 18 major cities analysed in the report are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast-Tweed, Newcastle, Canberra-Queanbeyan, Sunshine Coast, Wollongong, Hobart, Geelong, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Toowoomba, Launceston, and Albury-Wodonga.
One of the report’s key findings of the report is that Sydney has increased its population by 6.6 per cent since 2006 but saw a net loss of 20,249 domestic migrants – almost four times greater than the next highest net loser of domestic migrants, Melbourne.
While Melbourne has increased its population by 9.7 per cent, it lost 5,540 domestic migrants to other parts of Australia. Perth gained more domestic immigrants than any other city with 4,977 more people moving there than departing during the 2010/11 period, followed by the regional cities of Newcastle, Gold Coast/Tweed and the Sunshine Coast.
“Given that real estate markets are affected by population growth, high levels of in-migration (people moving to the city), the growth of the mining sector and an already low supply of houses, there will continue to be strong demand for housing and, potentially, a smaller pool of affordable housing as competition becomes greater,” Albanese said at the report’s launch.
The report also identifies specific initiatives being undertaken by local councils and state planning authorities which are proving to be effective at promoting more productive, sustainable and liveable urban communities.
A second report, Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport, has also been released and sets out the simple steps that governments and citizens can take to increase the percentage of people walking and bike riding for short trips.
“For its part, the Federal Government has agreed that all future urban road projects must include a safe, separated cycle way, where practical,” Albanese explained.
He emphasized the importance of investing in public transport and road infrastructure.
“As one of the most urbanised societies in the world, and with our cities generating 80 per cent of our national income, our continuing prosperity largely depends on the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities,” he said.