1. What is your party’s vision for transport?
2. What is your party’s position on how to better support the growth of car share, and what steps might you take to further its growth as a means to ease parking and road congestion, as well as reducing the cost of living?
Labor’s plan for cities
Australia is one of the most urbanised countries on earth. Although there are significant benefits that come from urbanisation, including its contribution to GDP, a number of negative side effects are taking a toll on our cities.
Urban sprawl, growing congestion on roads, increasingly crowded public transport, declining housing affordability and an unequal distribution of employment opportunities, particularly in outer suburbs and growth areas, impact people’s quality of life.
The natural environment is suffering from increased pollution and a loss of green space due to poorly planned urban development. Similarly, Australia’s agricultural food bowls, which play a critical role in supplying our cities, are also under pressure.
Growing the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities requires collaboration. Labor will work in partnership with state and local governments, as well as with business and communities, to ensure our cities are places of opportunity for everyone.
The Liberals’ Record
The Liberals abandoned Australian cities when they took office in 2013. They abolished the Major Cities Unit, disbanded the Urban Policy Forum, discarded the annual State of Australian Cities reports, failed to appoint a Minister for Cities until 2015 and failed to produce a National Urban Policy.
Despite a change in rhetoric when Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, the Liberal Government has continued to neglect Australian cities with no real investment for policies or programs. Their ‘signature’ program – City Deals – falls well short of what is required to achieve genuine structural change in our cities and is subject to political whim. Policy experts themselves have identified that this program lacks transparency and clear guidelines, treats local government as a stakeholder rather than a partner, fails to adequately engage the private sector and does not align with other relevant strategies.
Since World War II, every Labor Government has made an important contribution to Australia’s urban development and progress, including in our outer suburbs.
In 1945, Ben Chifley commenced post-war reconstruction with large-scale investment in public housing. Gough Whitlam connected Western Sydney and other suburban areas to sewerage and established the Department of Urban and Regional Development. Bob Hawke and Paul Keating invested in the Building Better Cities Program.
And the former Labor Government put in place a large number of policies to support the development of our cities, which included:
- Establishing Infrastructure Australia to provide independent advice to government about the merits of major projects.
- Creating the Major Cities Unit and Urban Policy Forum to ensure policy is informed by expert opinion and underpinned by an evidence base, including through the annual State of Australian Cities report.
- Establishing the Australian Council of Local Government to bring local councils into the conversation.
- Creating the Centre of Excellence for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney to promote best practice.
- Conducting a review of capital city strategic planning systems through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – this was chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe with Lucy Turnbull as Deputy Chair.
- Releasing the Urban Design Protocol after consulting extensively with industry, which promotes guidelines for sustainable urban development.
- Releasing Australia’s first ever comprehensive National Urban Policy, which identified three key pillars of productivity, sustainability and liveability.
Labor’s plan for cities will build on this proud track record.
A Labor Government will re-establish the Urban Policy Forum to ensure meaningful engagement with policy experts and industry, drawing on their knowledge to make better decisions.
Labor will overhaul and replace the Coalition’s City Deals with a City Partnerships program that will foster more genuine collaboration between the three levels of government.
To achieve this we will:
- Re-establish the Major Cities Unit within the independent Infrastructure Australia and task it with recommending and assessing the progress of City Partnerships.
- Establish an expert panel to update strategic planning guidelines for cities as well as to develop guidelines for City Partnerships, in consultation with the Minister, which will include benefits to the economy.
- Refresh the National Urban Policy, which Labor released when last in government, to ensure City Partnerships align with its objectives, for example, in areas like sustainability and smart technology.
Labor is also committed to honouring any signed City Deal, however we will offer councils and state or territory governments the opportunity to deepen their agreement.
Labor will continue to build on its strong track record of investing in properly integrated transport systems involving public transport and roads.
If elected Labor will:
- Establish a Park and Ride fund to invest in parking facilities for commuters at train stations around the nation.
- Help complete the Melbourne Metro Tunnel, which will increase the capacity of rail network by allowing train services to be added to the Craigieburn, Cranbourne, Frankston, Pakenham, Sandringham, Sunbury, Upfield, Werribee and Williamstown lines.
- Invest in the Suburban Rail Loop, which will deliver a new 90 kilometre underground rail line through Melbourne’s western and eastern suburbs via the airport, linking every major train line.
- Move quickly to deliver the much-needed Frankston to Baxter Rail Upgrade, building on the significant investment the Andrews Labor Government has made in Frankston infrastructure.
- Extend the number 11 tram route, providing better public transport services to Melbourne’s booming northern suburbs.
- Invest in public transport solutions to serve the needs of the Monash University Clayton Campus, and the broader Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster.
- Labor will continue to invest in the next stages of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Rail Upgrade, duplicating track, expanding platforms, constructing a new bridge and implementing grade separations.
- Invest in Western Sydney Rail to connect the Sydney rail network with the new Western Sydney Airport, whilst reducing congestion.
- Invest in Sydney Metro West, which will double the rail capacity between Parramatta and the CBD, while slashing travel times between Parramatta and the City to just 20 minutes, with trains running every two minutes.
- End the gridlock in South East Queensland by investing in the Cross River Rail project to expand the capacity of the region’s rail network so it can deliver more trains more often including to both the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
- Support the delivery of Stage 3A of the Gold Coast Light Rail project – extending the network from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads.
- Invest in METRONET to deliver 72 kilometres of new passenger rail and up to 18 new stations, unlocking the potential of more than 5,000 hectares of land around the new stations for investment in housing, jobs and services for growing communities.
- Modernise and electrify the line connecting Adelaide’s CBD to Gawler on the outer northern metropolitan fringe.
- Reduce traffic congestion for residents of the City’s south by investing in the Stage II construction of Canberra’s Light Rail project.
More information is available in Labor’s Nation Building Infrastructure plan.
Beyond the benefits that these infrastructure initiatives will provide, a Shorten Labor Government will bring a new, collaborative approach to the challenges that urbanisation present.
If people can’t access employment, training or educational opportunities, if people are stuck in their cars for hours commuting to and from work, and, if people cannot enjoy their quality of life, then they can’t achieve their potential. And of course, this means that, in turn, our cities won’t fulfil theirs.
Successful cities are inclusive cities, with diverse vibrant communities – not disconnected enclaves of privilege and disadvantage.
Growing Regional Cities
Creating Smarter Cities
Labor will embed a Smart Cities Agenda in our National Urban Policy to ensure we are competitive with our global counterparts, while putting communities first.
Smart technology can make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable by improving the investment decisions we make, including through more efficient management of urban infrastructure.
Smart cities don’t just respond to the issues of the day but anticipate the challenges of the future by being resourceful with evidence-based decision making, having an overarching strategic vision, an integrated planning approach and supporting innovation.
Labor’s approach will include collaboration with experts to identify new opportunities to enhance smart cities policy in Australia.
Labor will also broaden Infrastructure Australia’s role by requiring projects to address new criteria. This means showing what provision for smart infrastructure has been included to ensure maximum benefit is achieved from any investment. This could include upgrading existing infrastructure where identified as appropriate, which saves both time and money.
Living Cities Strategy
Real action on climate change isn’t just about protecting our environment – it’s also about future-proofing our economy and protecting jobs. It also means recognising the need to change the way our cities work to keep our cities liveable.
Labor will collaborate with industry and governments to develop a Living Cities Strategy that considers the policy options and levers available to the Federal Government that could facilitate the preservation, enhancement and creation of green and blue infrastructure in urban areas.
This Strategy could include developing a green infrastructure plan, mapping and reporting on open space, new criteria to assess cities in the State of Australian Cities reports, opportunities to grow open space and improved governance to facilitate best practice.
Getting planning and infrastructure right within our cities is critical in order to reduce Australia’s harmful carbon emissions, meet the Paris Targets and Sustainable Development Goals and move toward a zero emissions future.
It also provides an opportunity for the Federal Government to address recommendations listed in the ‘Building Up and Moving Out’ Report, which is the outcome of the inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities.
Policies already developed by Labor including on smart cities, active transport, urban rivers and city partnerships should also be used to assist in meeting the objectives of the Strategy.
- Ensuring action on climate change is built into major urban strategic plans (mitigation and adaptation).
- The integration of water, wastewater and stormwater into urban planning to improve overall (including health and liveability) outcomes for our cities and regions.
- Facilitating the transition to renewable energy by supporting urban innovation and green urban growth e.g. net zero carbon and liveable precincts.