Dwelling approvals fall 5.0 per cent in February 2014

FOLLOWING an upwardly revised increase of 6.9 per cent in January, the number of new dwellings approved in February was down by 5.0 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 16,669 dwellings were approved in February 2014, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 17,552 in January and 16,424 in December. However, when compared to the same month in 2013, the number of dwellings approved in February 2014 was 23.2 per cent higher, in seasonally adjusted terms.

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New report says motorists, business and community up for fundamental change

AUSTRALIA'S motorists and infrastructure providers last week released a major research report outlining the case, process and outcomes needed to deliver real solutions to Australia's transport funding and congestion challenges.

The report, titled 'Road Pricing and Transport Infrastructure Funding: Reform Pathways for Australia' was developed by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) and Deloitte, in partnership with the Australian Automobile Association and the three largest motoring clubs, the NRMA (NSW); RACQ (Queensland) and RACV (Victoria).

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UDIA land supply report finds new block sizes continue to shrink

THE traditional suburban quarter acre block is nothing but a distant memory, according to the findings of a new report on land supply released last week by the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

The 2014 UDIA State of the Land Report, which was launched at the opening of the UDIA National Congress in Brisbane, has found that the average size of new residential lots is now just one tenth of an acre (423 square metres), after falling 29 per cent in size over the last decade.

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State, Federal agreement helps to free up billions for infrastructure: IPA

THE confirmation of a new deal that will see the Australian Government provide one-off grants linked to the sale of state assets – and the reinvestment of all proceeds in new infrastructure – offers a real opportunity to accelerate the process of infrastructure delivery and reform, according to peak infrastructure body, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA).

"This is a big step in the right direction, because it offers an opportunity to break the funding impasse and move beyond announcements and into actual project delivery," said IPA Chief Executive, Brendan Lyon.

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National planning awards announced in Sydney

A RESEARCH project highlighting planning implications for coastal settlements in South Eastern Australia in light of climate change, an initiative that has transformed development assessment processes in Queensland and the redevelopment of Perth's Forrest Place are among those to have been awarded at the 2014 Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Awards for Planning Excellence.

The national awards ceremony, which was held as part of the 2014 PIA National Congress in Sydney last week, turned the spotlight onto projects that represent excellence in planning. The awards are the only Australia-wide mechanism for formally commending planners for professional excellence and obtaining peer and public recognition for their work.

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Report detailing Australia's infrastructure outlook released

FEDERAL Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss announced that Australia's infrastructure outlook has been mapped and made public as never before, with the release of the publication 'Trends', a forecast of the nation's infrastructure position through to 2030.

At the launch of the report at the Tourism and Transport Forum Leadership Summit in Canberra last week, Mr Truss said it draws together facts and figures that have not before been published in one document.

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Action needed on public infrastructure: Productivity Commission

A DRAFT report by the Productivity Commission has found an abundance of flaws, mythologies and forgone opportunities in infrastructure financing, funding and procurement and calls for a comprehensive overhaul of processes in the assessment and development of public infrastructure projects.

The draft report outlines a proposed process for improving infrastructure investment across all levels of government; and as a consequence attracting increased private investment. It states that without reform, more spending will simply increase the cost to users, taxpayers and the community generally, and result in the provision of wasteful infrastructure.

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Victoria's Regional Rail Link named infrastructure project of the year

VICTORIA'S multi-billion dollar Regional Rail Link project has been recognised as the country's best infrastructure project, in front of more than 550 public and private sector executives gathered for Infrastructure Partnerships Australia's National Infrastructure Awards in Sydney last week.

The project, which involves new rail tracks from West Werribee through Deer Park and Sunshine to Southern Cross Station and is expected to be fully completed in 2016, was selected ahead of the Gold Coast University Hospital project in Queensland, Hunter Expressway Stage 2 in New South Wales and the Perth City Link rail project in Western Australia.

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Dwelling approvals increase by 6.8 per cent in January 2014

FOLLOWING a revised fall of 1.3 per cent in December last year, the number of new dwellings approved in January increased by 6.8 per cent, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 17,514 dwellings were approved in January 2014, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 16,400 in December and 16,613 in November. However, when compared to the same month in 2013, the number of dwellings approved in January 2014 was 34.6 per cent higher, in seasonally adjusted terms. The trend estimate for total dwellings approved rose 1.3 per cent in January 2014 and has risen for 25 months.

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Canberra overtakes Adelaide as Australia's 'most liveable city' in Property Council survey

CANBERRA has overtaken Adelaide and been crowned Australia's most liveable city, according to a Property Council of Australia survey of residents' views of their own city, with Hobart, Melbourne and Brisbane rounding out the top five.

The survey, which is now in its fourth year, polled 5,400 people across 10 cities, asking them to rate their city on the issues that matter to them. The results reveal a change in the liveability scores of Australia's largest cities.

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Council of Capital City Lord Mayors advocate for Smart Growth

THE Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) last week released the 'Unlocking Smart Growth in Australian Cities' report by Urbis Australia, which contains a number of recommendations to facilitate Smart Growth, including new governance and management structures, incentive programs and the development of Smart Growth indicators to measure the performance of cities.

CCCLM Chair, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, said the report is the first to explore the Smart Growth concept in an Australian context, adding that it makes sense for city planning to focus on locating people close to jobs and using existing infrastructure.

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Australian Government introduces Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill

FEDERAL Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss last week introduced the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014, which maps out the government's infrastructure priorities and replaces the Nation Building Program.

"We are moving to deliver the infrastructure Australia critically needs through our $35.5 billion Infrastructure Investment Programme, which, over six years, will build the vital road and rail projects to improve efficiency, boost productivity and drive Australia's economy forward," Mr Truss said in a statement.

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Work starts on Northern Australia White Paper

THE Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory have agreed to join a new Strategic Partnership to inform the development and implementation of Australia's first Northern Australia White Paper, the Australian Government announced last week.

The White Paper aims to provide a clear, well-defined and timely policy platform for promoting the development of Northern Australia, including a plan for implementing these policies over the next two, five, 10 and 20 years.

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