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.
"The Abbott Government has nailed its colours to the mast on planning for urban and regional development. And the Prime Minister has signalled his personal commitment to planning by appointing three senior Ministers to planning-related portfolios," Ms Kelly said.
Ms Kelly said Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, who has responsibility for planning matters through his Transport and Regional Development portfolio, will be acutely aware how important transport, infrastructure and planning are to country towns and cities following his previous role as Transport and Regional Services Minister in the Howard Government.
"Another very senior member of Cabinet – Attorney-General George Brandis – will also have a hand in planning the future of our cities and towns, as his portfolio includes strategic planning to protect communities from natural hazards and to help them bounce back after a disaster," Ms Kelly said.
Ms Kelly said that PIA will also look to engage Environment Minister Greg Hunt, adding that his previous Shadow Portfolios of environment, heritage, urban water and climate have him well placed to manage the complexities of cities policy.
"We are particularly keen to work with Minister Hunt to implement the proposed Integrated Planning Commission that will oversee long-term plans for Australia's major cities," Ms Kelly said.
"This is a robust line-up of policy makers who will serve the nation well in planning matters. We look forward to working with each of them to build sturdy links between planning and the Government's productivity and efficiency agendas."
PIA launched its 'Planning Matters' Election Platform during the election campaign, which called for strategic planning and growth management for cities to be front-and-centre in national productivity initiatives, including a stronger role for Infrastructure Australia and revised administrative arrangements for cities policy.
"The proper management of growth in our cities and regional communities is vital, as poor planning is a forerunner to productivity blockages," Ms Kelly said.
"But the reverse is equally true: planning is a critical tool for driving productivity. If you get the strategy right early on, you can eliminate red and green tape obstacles before they emerge, and shape the future development of communities so they can keep doing what they do best."