Australia

Australian Government orders inquiry into infrastructure costs

THE Australian Government last week announced a new Productivity Commission inquiry into infrastructure costs and financing in Australia, which it said will deliver on a key Coalition commitment and form part of the government's 'ambitious infrastructure agenda'.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey said the inquiry will be crucial in identifying how to lower construction costs and develop a partnership with the private sector to build the infrastructure of the twenty-first century that Australia needs.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Study of community roads and infrastructure highlights room for improvement: ALGA

RESULTS from a national study commissioned by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to examine the condition of community roads and infrastructure reinforce that more than 10 per cent of sealed roads are in poor condition and a large proportion of timber bridges are substandard.

The 2013 National State of the Assets Report was launched last week at ALGA's 14th National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Alice Springs, where hundreds of local government representatives met to discuss key issues affecting roads, transport and infrastructure provision in Australian communities.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Federal Government axes National Housing Supply Council

THE Australian Government has axed the National Housing Supply Council (NHSC), which was established in May 2008 to monitor housing demand, supply and affordability in Australia and to highlight current and potential gaps between housing supply and demand.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who announced the abolishment of the NHSC – along with the High Speed Rail Advisory Group and ten other non-statutory bodies – in a statement last Friday, said the changes would further streamline government and reduce duplication.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Government calls for input to Australian Heritage Strategy

THE Australian Government last week called on heritage practitioners and experts across Australia to come forward with their ideas and suggestions for the Australian Heritage Strategy, which seeks to provide a common framework and priorities for Australia's heritage and help ensure the nation's heritage is recognised and protected for future generations.

In a statement, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government is committed to re-starting and completing the strategy, with a draft strategy expected to be released for public comment in Australian Heritage Week next year.

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Dwelling approvals increase by 14.4 per cent in September 2013

THE number of new dwellings approved in September 2013 increased by 14.4 per cent, following a revised fall of 1.6 per cent in August, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 16,318 dwellings were approved in September 2013, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 14,262 in August and 14,498 in July. The trend estimate for total dwellings approved increased by 2.5 per cent in September and has risen for 21 months.

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Grattan Institute releases 'Renovating Housing Policy' report

GOVERNMENT tax and welfare policies are favouring homeowners and property investors over people who rent and increasing the divide between Australians who own housing and those who do not, according to a new report released this week by the Grattan Institute.

The report, 'Renovating Housing Policy', examines the costs and effects of housing policies, including direct expenditure and tax breaks, and investigates what is happening to home ownership and private rentals in Australia. It finds that current policies are not producing more homeowners.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Dwelling approvals fall 4.7 per cent in August 2013

THE number of new dwellings approved in August 2013 declined by 4.7 per cent, following a downwardly revised gain of 10.2 per cent in July, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released this month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 13,687 dwellings were approved in August 2013, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 14,362 in July and 13,038 in June. In trend terms, the number of dwellings approved increased for the sixth consecutive month, up by 0.1 per cent in August.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

PIA calls for clarity on the future of Australian cities

THE Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) has called for clarity from the Federal Government on the future of Australian cities following the dismantling of the Major Cities Unit, which was established by the former Labor Government in 2008 to advice on issues of policy, planning and infrastructure that have an impact on cities.

In a statement released last week, the Planning Institute said the work of the Major Cities Unit within the former Department of Infrastructure and Transport was vital for the long term strategic planning of Australian cities.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

PIA to Coalition: make urban and regional planning a centrepiece of productivity agenda

AUSTRALIA'S peak planning body, the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), has called on the new Federal Coalition Government to make urban and regional planning a centrepiece of its productivity agenda, following the swearing in of the new Cabinet and Outer Ministry last Wednesday.

Welcoming the new government, PIA Chief Executive Officer, Kirsty Kelly, said strategic planning would be a critical footing for the new government's policies on productivity, efficiency and economic development in Australia's cities and regions.

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TTF releases 'Accessing Our CBDs' report

A NEW report outlining the most critical transport issues facing Australia's largest city centres and the policy and infrastructure solutions available to governments, including a number of proposed 'game changing' projects, was last week released by peak industry body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

The report, titled 'Accessing Our CBDs' and produced in collaboration with Booz & Co, proposes ways to improve transport access to the central business districts of Australia's five biggest cities, such as bus capacity improvements in Sydney and Adelaide, light rail capacity improvements in Melbourne and Perth and heavy rail upgrades in Brisbane.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Dwelling approvals increase by 10.8 per cent in July 2013

THE number of new dwellings approved in July 2013 increased by 10.8 per cent, following a downwardly revised fall of 6.3 per cent in June, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released this month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 14,304 dwellings were approved in July 2013, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 12,912 in June and 13,777 in May. In trend terms, the number of dwellings approved increased for the fifth consecutive month, up by 0.9 per cent in July.

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Draft report finds deficiencies in major project assessment processes

A DRAFT report that benchmarks Australia's major project assessment and approval processes against international and domestic best practice has found a series of deficiencies in major project approval processes, with a high risk of delays and significantly increased costs.

The draft report, titled 'Major Project Development Assessment Processes' and released earlier this month by the Productivity Commission, also examines a number of regulatory practices and contains a range of recommendations to improve the current system.

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New report explores use of alternative debt solutions for financing local government infrastructure

A NEW report exploring the use of alternative debt solutions for financing local government infrastructure in Australia's capital cities was last week released by the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM), with capital city councils found to be in a strong position to move towards a more favourable debt load.

In response to a growing demand for public infrastructure projects and a diminishing capacity to pay for such infrastructure through core revenues, CCCLM commissioned Ernst & Young to assess innovative financing mechanisms available to help build the infrastructure that Australia requires.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

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