Planning Institute releases 2013 Federal Election Platform

THE Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) this week released its 2013 Federal Election Platform, which calls on the next Australian Government to implement a suite of initiatives and policies, including the establishment of an Urban Infrastructure Fund, better integration of land use and transport planning and the development of best-practice planning systems.

The Institute has written to the leaders of each of the major parties asking them to indicate their support or otherwise of the initiatives proposed in its 'Planning Matters' Election Platform, which is based on four broad 'calls to action' to ensure that good planning is supported at the national level.

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Hopes for constitutional recognition of local government dashed by election date

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd's decision to hold the Federal election on September 7 has ruled out the possibility of a referendum to support the constitutional recognition of local government being held at the same time, dashing the hopes of the local government sector, which has long been campaigning for formal recognition.

"We are extremely disappointed to learn that Prime Minister Rudd has selected an election date which means the Referendum on recognising local government in the Constitution cannot be held," said Felicity-ann Lewis, President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

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UDIA calls for Commonwealth land to be handed over for housing

THE Commonwealth Government should undertake thorough, regular auditing of its land assets, in order to identify and make available surplus land for housing development, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

Announcing its proposal late last month, the UDIA said tens of thousands of new homes could potentially be accommodated on underutilised Commonwealth Government land across Australia's major cities, providing a boost to housing supply and improving housing affordability.

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State of Australian Cities 2013 released

AUSTRALIA has one of the highest population growth rates in the OECD and is one of the most urbanised countries, with the nation's cities also becoming increasingly stratified by age as well as income, skills and employment, according to the latest State of Australian Cities 2013 report.

The report, the fourth in a series of publications detailing the progress of Australia's major cities towards the goals and objectives of the National Urban Policy, was launched last week by Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.

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Healthy Spaces and Places Coalition welcomes new active transport report

THE Healthy Spaces and Places Coalition last week applauded the release of the Australian Government's 'Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport' report, which sets out ways to increase the proportion of people walking and riding for short trips, and accessing public transport.

The Coalition, a joint initiative between the Heart Foundation, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Australian Local Government Association, said it was a momentous day to see the government prioritising and responding to active travel modes such as walking, cycling and public transport.

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Dwelling approvals fall 6.9 per cent in June

THE number of new dwellings approved in June 2013 decreased by 6.9 per cent, the second consecutive monthly fall following a revised decline of 4.3 per cent in May 2013, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest building approvals data released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A total of 12,778 dwellings were approved in June 2013, compared to seasonally adjusted totals of 13,727 in May and 14,343 in April. However, in trend terms, the number of dwellings approved increased for the fourth consecutive month, up by 0.1 per cent in June.

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NGAA calls for Suburban Jobs Program to continue

THE National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) last week welcomed the start of construction on the $29.5 million Werrington Park Corporate Centre in Sydney's west, but called on the government to extend its Suburban Jobs Program that helped fund the project.

The project received $13.5 million in funding from the Australian Government as part of its Suburban Jobs Program, which was announced in 2011 to support local employment opportunities in the suburbs of major capital cities that are subject to growth pressures.

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Additional funding and increased cooperation needed to boost infrastructure development: IPA

AUSTRALIA'S peak infrastructure body, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA), this month said a major focus on infrastructure in the lead up to the national election is needed, following the release of Infrastructure Australia's 2013 annual report which recommended only a few projects for national funding support.

"Australia's major cities are hampered by congestion and hamstrung by inefficient freight networks, but this is not reflected in projects moving quickly through Infrastructure Australia's priority list, or in increased national investment," said IPA Chief Executive, Brendan Lyon.

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Dwelling approvals fall 1.1 per cent in May 2013

THE number new dwellings approved in May 2013 declined by 1.1 per cent to 13,781 dwellings, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a 9.5 per cent rise in April, with New South Wales and Tasmania experiencing declines of 14.6 per cent and 35.9 per cent respectively.

However, the latest building approvals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also revealed that dwelling approvals in May 2013 increased in South Australia (15.4 per cent), Victoria (7.2 per cent), Western Australia (1.4 per cent) and Queensland (0.7 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.

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Infrastructure Australia's updated priority list released

FEDERAL Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese last week welcomed the release of Infrastructure Australia's fifth annual report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which updates the National Infrastructure Priority List of projects.

Mr Albanese said the updated list is based on a rigorous assessment against Infrastructure Australia's reform and investment framework to determine which projects offer the highest economic, social and environmental returns, adding that all projects identified as 'ready to proceed' have received Federal funding commitments.

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Australia's best urban designs announced

A CELEBRATION of urban design in Australia has seen three projects take out their respective categories in the 2013 Australia Award for Urban Design (AAUD) at a gala dinner at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra last week.

The ambitious plan to link the Canberra CBD with the city's iconic lake, Brisbane's new Northern Busway (Windsor to Kedron) and the upgrade of two Sydney laneways have become the Nation's best Urban Design projects for 2013.  A revitalisation project in Central Dandenong in Victoria received a Commendation.

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New guide to help improve energy efficiency of apartment buildings

FEDERAL Energy Minister Gary Gray this month launched 'Smart Blocks', a new national initiative that aims to encourage apartment owners and managers to improve energy efficiency across their building's profile, potentially saving 20 to 30 per cent in electricity costs.

"With around 40 per cent of new housing now in medium and high density development and the last census showing that over 24 per cent of Australian households live in strata-type dwellings, this is an important initiative to improve energy efficiency," Mr Gray said.

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Dwelling approvals rise 9.1 per cent in April 2013

THE number new dwellings approved in April 2013 increased by 9.1 per cent to 13,774 dwellings, in seasonally adjusted terms, with significant increases recorded in New South Wales (33.3 per cent) and Tasmania (36.7 per cent) compared to the previous month.

The latest building approvals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also reveals that dwelling approvals increased in Victoria (9.3 per cent), South Australia (8.0 per cent) and Western Australia (4.3 per cent) but declined in Queensland (10.9 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms.

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