Australia

Performance of cities should be tracked: report

A REPORT released this month by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) and global consulting firm Arup calls on all levels of government to integrate the way they plan, regulate and operate metropolitan infrastructure and for the performance of cities to be tracked.

IPA Chief Executive, Brendan Lyon, said that while governments invest tens of billions in urban Australia each year, the effectiveness of this funding is not tracked.

The report calls for the Productivity Commission to be tasked with delivering a dashboard of performance indicators, so that the performance improvements in cities can be tracked over time.

"A dashboard that measures city-wide economic and social indicators as well as sector specific indicators such as congestion on road networks, will allow governments and the public to continuously track the performance of cities and the degree of success in fixing urban Australia," Mr Lyon said.

"Our study also calls on all jurisdictions to develop smarter, more integrated and more efficient approaches to the way infrastructure is conceived, operated and funded.

"The seamless integration of land-use and infrastructure planning will be fundamental to ensuring Australia brings forward the right projects, in the right places – and delivers them at the right time," Mr Lyon said.

Mr Lyon said the scale of the infrastructure investment task facing Australia's cities is substantial and it comes at a time of declining revenues and substantial fiscal constraints.

According to the report, sustaining a desirable increase in public infrastructure investment will require progressive market reforms, such as the sale of publicly held assets, greater use of outsourcing and increased levels of contestability.

"The concepts and recommendations put forward in this research paper are already being adopted by other cities around the world," Mr Lyon said.

"If Australia is to keep pace with our global competitors, then we need to move beyond ideals and start implementing well considered, well-conceived strategies to underpin the productivity of our cities."

Richard Sharp, Principal at Arup, said that by predicting future infrastructure requirements and reviewing potential procurement options, the recommendations identified in the report will support the development of an achievable long-term strategy for Australian cities.

The report, 'Re-thinking cities: a strategy for integrated infrastructure', is available from the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) website at <http://www.infrastructure.org.au/>.

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