Articles on Cities & Policy

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Without metropolitan governance that is responsive to city residents’ wishes, states are much influenced by federal priorities – that is, by the money on offer. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Metropolitan governance is the missing link in Australia’s reform agenda

Representative and accountable metropolitan government is needed to lead metro-scale planning, infrastructure investment and services, and partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
From Prime Minister David Cameron down, UK ministers have been keen to unveil ambitious ‘City Deals’, often before difficult policy and funding details have been resolved. flickr/Number 10

City Deals: nine reasons this imported model of urban development demands due diligence

The new cities minister apparently shares the Property Council and KPMG's enthusiasm for the UK 'City Deals' model, but he should look more closely at this 'tried and tested' model before adopting it.
Several preventative measures can be taken to reduce the impact of fraudulent property industry behaviour on consumers. AAP/Dan Peled

How can we arrest the rise in white-collar crime in Australia’s property industry?

Consumers lose out when a real estate agent acts fraudulently – be that false advertising, deceptive conduct or misusing trust funds. Research shows a link between such misconduct and lower regulatory and educational standards.
Those opposed to forced municipal mergers have reason to be sceptical of NSW Premier Mike Baird’s promises that it will improve councils’ performance. AAP/Paul Miller

Do mergers make for better councils? The evidence is against ‘bigger is better’ for local government

If forced amalgamations proceed, we may well see hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer and ratepayer funds squandered simply because policymakers preferred dogma to empirical evidence.
The sale of the port of Fremantle, the last capital city port to be privatised, is now in limbo. AAP/Kim Christian

WA port sales the latest privatisations to hit political hurdles

The Barnett government's plans to sell ports, including the last capital city port slated for privatisation, appear to have been torpedoed by the WA Nationals' change of heart.
One of the architects of 443 Queen Street says: ‘The Queenslander – elevated on stilts and open to natural ventilation – was an inspiration for the tower’. Artist's Impression

How can a city keep its character if its landmark views aren’t protected?

Landmarks identify and define cities. Town-planning instruments should protect these landmarks from new development that does not respect the setting.
Australia has isolated sustainable development projects, like Adelaide’s Bowden precinct that got Princes Charles’ attention in 2015, but lacks an overarching commitment to sustainability. AAP

Times demand a Sustainable Development Commission to replace the Productivity Commission

The challenges we face demand profound changes in our thinking and priorities. Replacing the Productivity Commission with a National Sustainability Commission would help us make this paradigm shift.
Malcolm Turnbull is known to favour public transport, but he also sees the need to twin the development of higher-density activity centres with rail infrastructure. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

‘The 30-minute city’: how do we put the political rhetoric into practice?

The '30-minute city' goal is about more than urban rail and other transit projects. It means transforming our cities into centres of activity where work, study and services are all close by.
The critical issues underlying the debate about Sydney’s nightlife include worsening inequality and who is getting left behind. AAP/Richard Ashen

Beyond lockouts: Sydney needs to become a more inclusive city

Without the public mobilising over inequalities that are so ingrained in its psyche, Sydney is unlikely to see its nightlife reflect true social inclusion and diversity.
Our visions of the future embrace huge, glittering cities, but Sydney has a case of the little town blues. Warner Bros.

The 24/7 city, creativity and the lockout laws

The city, with its carnivalesque excesses, has long been a muse for artists. But Sydney's lockout laws infantilise its citizens and stifle activity.
Bushfires and heatwaves are expected to increase and significantly impact on Australian cities and urban communities. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Hot cities: the ‘smart’ response to urban heat threats

How well does the 'smart' city respond to the devastating scale and impact of urban heat threats such as bushfires and heatwaves?
The new assistant minister for cities, Angus Taylor, has expressed a ‘deep belief that consultation and proper public debate gets to wise outcomes’. flickr/Crawford Forum

Memo to our latest cities minister: here’s what needs to be done

Effective development planning must anticipate where growth might occur and its wider impacts. So, if the federal government is serious about cities policy, it needs a proper settlements plan.
Sydney Harbour is arguably the city’s only truly great public space. flickr/Duncan Hull

Utzon Lecture: Re-imagining the Harbour City

Under pressure to be a global city, market-led infrastructure provision is shifting the focus from public to private interests, from government as promoter to government as client, with mixed results.
Before entering politics, Scott Morrison was employed to develop policy for the Property Council of Australia, which is now leading the charge against negative-gearing reform. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Housing policy is captive to property politics, so don’t expect politicians to tackle affordability

The default position for politicians is to sound concerned about housing affordability, but do nothing. This can be explained by the idea of 'policy capture', in this case by industry interests.
The shimmer of a heat mirage shows how a hard road surface increases urban temperatures by radiating heat into the air. Wikimedia Commons/Brocken Inaglory

If planners understand it’s cool to green cities, what’s stopping them?

It seems like a 'no brainer' to use urban greening to help cities adapt to increasing heat, but the uptake of green infrastructure, such as trees and vegetated roofs, surfaces and walls, is slow. Why?
Mandurah is an example of built density without intensity: five-to-ten-storey buildings with generous public space but a population density less than your average suburb. Kim Dovey

How negative-gearing changes can bring life back to eerily quiet suburbs

Curbing negative gearing will help get empty housing onto the market. This could go some way to bringing life back to relatively dense urban centres that are oddly lacking intensity of public life.
‘Chook farms ruin lives!’. Australians consume a lot of cheap chicken, but not all of them appreciate an intensive chicken factory as a neighbour. Marco Amati

Done like a chicken dinner: city fringes locked in battles over broiler farms

As consumption has soared and prices have fallen, the realities of industrial chicken farming often clash with the values of people who live on the urban fringes where broiler farms are sited.
The hidden costs of affordable housing in the outer suburbs include poorer access to services and long hours of commuting. AAP/David Crosling

An environmentally just city works best for all in the end

Australian cities should be made to work for all inhabitants. This involves evenly spreading the disadvantages of industrial and commercial activities as well as the advantages of good access to services.
Mapping health outcomes and life expectancy against train stations reveals stark inequalities across cities. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Your local train station can predict health and death

Where you live affects your health and life expectancy. This makes it possible to map health outcomes against train stations, so that you can readily see the inequalities across cities like Melbourne.

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