Planning Institute supports PM's change in population policy

THE Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) last week announced it supported Prime Minister Julia Gillard's change in emphasis of national population policy, saying the change in strategy represents a more measured approach to population growth for Australia.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Gillard signals change in direction for population policies

NEW Prime Minister Julia Gillard has signalled a change in direction for population policies. Distancing herself from the "big Australia" comments of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Gillard said "Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population. I don't support the idea of a big Australia... We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia."

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Grattan Institute releases 'The Cities We Need' report

THE Grattan Institute, an independent public policy think-tank focused on Australian domestic public policy, has released its first report from its Cities Program, titled 'The Cities We Need'.

The report aims to set an agenda for thinking about the future of Australia's cities and asks how our cities meet the individual needs of their residents, both material and psychological, and identifies emerging challenges to meeting these needs. One conclusion that emerges is that while social interaction is critical for human thriving, it has not been a focus of analysis about cities in the past.

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Public transport is top transport concern for Australians

Australians remain more concerned about improving public transport than improving roads, the latest quarterly transport survey from the University of Sydney shows.

More than half of those surveyed in the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies-Interfleet Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS) said improving public transport was Australia's highest transport priority, with less than a quarter saying better roads should be the top priority.

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Bunnings says Woolworths hardware stores are thwarting planning laws

BUNNINGS has accused Woolworths of circumventing planning laws, as the supermarket giant attempts to enter the hardware sector, according to a Fairfax report. As part of its joint venture with US home improvement retailer, Lowes, Woolworths has ambitions of securing 150 sites for large format hardware stores within five years.

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Constitutional change to recognise local government a step closer

THE President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Cr Geoff Lake, has welcomed the announcement that the Australian Government will fund a $250,000 education campaign to promote a referendum to include local government in the Australian Constitution.

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ACF releases Sustainable Cities Index 2010

THE Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has released a report, the Sustainable Cities Index 2010, to provide a snapshot of comparative performance in each of Australia's 20 largest cities, with the aim of encouraging healthy competition, stimulating discussion and suggesting new ways of thinking about how our cities can be sustainable. It is the ACF's first report of such a type and is intended to be updated regularly.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

March dwelling approvals increase; interest rates rise

AFTER two months of consecutive falls, the seasonally adjusted estimate for approved dwelling units rose by 15.3 per cent, with a total of 16,383 dwelling units approved in March, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses approved increased by 0.5 per cent (to 9,779), the third rise in as many months. The seasonally adjusted estimate for approved 'private sector other dwellings' (such as apartments and semi-detached housing) rose by 59.9 per cent (to 4,558), following falls in the previous two months.

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Population Minister officially sworn in

THE NEWLY appointed Minister for Population, Tony Burke, was officially sworn in by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, on Wednesday

Ms Quentin Bryce wished Mr Burke well in his new role as Australia’s first population minister. He has been given the task of creating a comprehensive population strategy for Australia. Mr Burke is also the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Federal Member for Watson.

Mr Burke will consider the projected path of population growth and the challenges and opportunities associated with this growth. Accordingly, Mr Burke will develop "cross government frameworks that will be required to make the most of the opportunities, and minimise the risks, associated with population growth."

  • Written by Urbanalyst

The impact of planning requirements on housing costs and development

A RECENT study has found that while development contributions and other planning related costs are high and vary greatly amongst Australian states and territories, developers are more concerned about non-financial barriers such as planning system complexity, uncertain time frames and changing requirements.

The research, released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), was carried out by Associate Professor Nicole Gurran, Dr Kristian Ruming and Professor Bill Randolph of the AHURI UNSW-UWS and AHURI Sydney Research Centres. It explored the relationships between urban planning regulation and housing outcomes in Australia, focusing particularly on the cost impact of planning regulations for housing development.

The researchers conducted 26 case studies and over 30 interviews with developers and other industry stakeholders in 15 local areas in NSW, Queensland and Victoria and included inner, middle ring and outer metropolitan locations, plus one regional growth area.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

February dwelling approvals fall

FOR the second month in a row, the seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwelling units approved fell 3.3% for the month of February, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses approved fell 0.9% (to 9,711) following rises in the previous two months, whilst the seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector other dwellings (apartments and semi-detached housing) approved fell 10.9% (to 2,698) and has fallen for two months.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of total building approved fell 4.5% in February. The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of new residential building approved increased 0.5%, while the value of approved residential alterations and additions increased 6.2%. The seasonally adjusted estimate for the value of non-residential building fell 13.0%.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Minister for Population appointed; population strategy to be developed

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd recently announced he had appointed Tony Burke to take on the new role of Minister for Population. In his announcement, Mr Rudd said the first task will be to develop "Australia's first comprehensive population strategy."

"To help guide the development of policies to meet Australia's future population needs," Mr Rudd said, "I have recommended to the Governor General that she appoint the Hon Tony Burke MP to the new office of Minister for Population in the Treasury Portfolio."

Mr Burke will examine population growth and the challenges and opportunities this will create. "Australia's first Population Strategy will consider the social and economic infrastructure Australia will need to support a growing population, including the roads, housing and service delivery network," Mr Rudd said.

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Interest rates rise, again

THE RESERVE Bank of Australia (RBA) has decided to lift interest rates by 25 basis points to 4.25 per cent, effective 7 April 2010.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens reitereated last month's statement, saying "the global economy is growing, and world GDP is expected to rise at close to trend pace in 2010 and 2011." Although Mr Stevens noted that expansion is "still hesitant in the major countries, due to the continuing legacy of the financial crisis, resulting in ongoing excess capacity."

Mr Stevens said that Australia's terms of trade are rising, with output growth over the year ahead likely to exceed last year. He said unemployment appears to have peaked and that credit for housing has been expanding at a solid pace.

"Interest rates to most borrowers nonetheless have been somewhat lower than average. The Board judges that with growth likely to be around trend and inflation close to target over the coming year, it is appropriate for interest rates to be closer to average. Today's decision is a further step in that process."

Visit the Reserve Bank of Australia website for more information <>.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

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