The National Urban Policy builds on the analysis currently being undertaken by the COAG Reform Council on Capital City Strategic planning systems and the consultation processes undertaken in relation to major cities and the population strategy. Strategic plans are to be in place from 1 January 2012.
The Sustainable Communities package targets the more effective planning and design of our cities and efficient use of new and existing infrastructure. The outer suburbs of our capital cities and major regional centres in particular are experiencing population growth pressures and housing and transport affordability pressures.
New programs will deliver demonstration projects within capital cities and regional cities that drive urban renewal through:
- investment in capital projects which improve public transport services and support new local jobs;
- working in partnership with the Capital City Lord Mayors on demonstration projects which enhance the liveability and sustainability of our capital cities;
- funding capital projects which support urban development or renewal projects that reduce costs and improve access to transport;
- more efficient and effective use of new and existing infrastructure through the incorporation of smart technology;
- demonstration projects to show how new investments in community facilities and better planning can help improve quality of life in our outer and growth suburbs; and
- funding projects in outer suburbs and major regional cities which meet the COAG national criteria and promote improved housing and transport supply.
The Sustainable Communities package will provide $120 million to State, Territory and local governments, potentially in partnership with the private sector, to fund projects aimed at improving affordability and liveability in cities.
Part A: Liveable Cities
The Australian Government has allocated $20 million for planning, feasibility assessment, design and/or capital works projects which improve the quality of life in our cities.
Key objectives will be to:
- invest in the development of urban renewal projects that improve access to jobs and housing and enhance the liveability of our cities;
- improve urban design outcomes to deliver higher quality public spaces and streetscapes to benefit local businesses, communities and visitors.
Examples of proposals that might be considered for funding include the planning, feasibility assessment and/or design for demonstration projects that:
- facilitate innovative residential developments that promote housing affordability, adaptable and accessible housing and improve access to services and public transport;
- create or enhance mixed use precincts that optimise public transport use such as the creation of transit malls and the re-development of significant public spaces:
- identify critical infrastructure corridors, sites and buffers;
- facilitate strategic plans for major cities with populations greater than 100,000 in line with the COAG criteria for capital city strategic planning systems; and
- promote or incorporate active travel through walking and cycling.
Part B: Suburban Jobs
The Australian Government has allocated $100 million to support State, Territory and local governments to plan and provide for employment precincts, manufacturing hubs and multi-function developments close to residential areas, in order to reduce travel times to work and services. This program will be administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The proximity of existing and planned housing to employment centres is a growing problem in a number of our major cities — especially in outer metropolitan growth areas. Establishment of local employment precincts in such areas, and improving the skills and participation of the local workforce in these places will:
- improve liveability in these areas through reduced travel times to jobs and services, and potential reduction in congestion;
- promote decentralisation and improved economic resilience in our major cities; and
- improve productivity and prosperity.
This Government will provide $61.4 million over three years for the development of a national smart managed motorways trial to improve congestion, lower urban emissions, and expand the capacity of existing outer city road infrastructure networks.
The program will fund smart infrastructure road projects identified by Infrastructure Australia as demonstrating high benefit-cost ratios and improving traffic demand management and the overall efficiency of the transport flows in major cities.
Efficient motorway performance is critical to Australia's economic performance. Managed motorways use system control through integrating data collection sensors and control tools to improve real-time management of motorways to secure a higher and more consistent level of motorway performance. This results in travel time savings and improved reliability, improved road safety and lower greenhouse gases emissions.
An initial set of projects that would be eligible for funding have been identified by Infrastructure Australia:
- an upgrade of the M1 West Gate Freeway in Melbourne (Western Ring Road to Williamstown Road section) to level 3 Intelligent Transport System (ITS). The Nation Building program is currently funding an upgrade of the M80 to ITS level 3. This project would complement the M80 upgrade and close a gap in the network which is projected to have the highest volumes of freight in Australia;
- feasibility, project development and early works funding for the M4 (Western Motorway) in Sydney to introduce a managed motorway system, including ramp metering and potential freight prioritisation;
- funding to introduce smart technology to the Gateway Motorway (Nudgee to Bruce Highway section) in Brisbane, including pole mounted variable speed limits, ramp signalling, travel time signs and variable message signs;
- feasibility funding and trials of technology, such as ramp metering on the Perth road network — including the Roe Highway and Graham Farmer Freeway.
Managed motorway technologies deliver substantial improvements in traffic management and safety. Specific benefits of managed motorways include:
- variable message signs, which deliver an 8 to 13 per cent increase in travel speed; and
- ramp metering, which delivers a 13 to 26 per cent increase in travel speed, an increase in volume (throughput of traffic) of between 5 and 30 per cent and a 15 to 50 per cent reduction in road accidents.
The rapid growth of our cities, as well as the outward expansion of cities over the last 50 years, has created significant congestion on urban roads, which has had an impact on residents' quality of life and reduced family and social time. Managed motorways can be effective in improving productivity by reducing congestion on busy roads, whilst also delivering important sustainability and liveability outcomes from our transport network.
Managed motorways move people from their workplaces to homes more safely and quickly, and by addressing road congestion, are also supporting more sustainable cities. Given that vehicles under congested conditions use more fuel and emit more pollutants than vehicles under free-flow conditions, these systems deliver sustainability improvements through greater fuel efficiency and reduced emissions from cars and trucks standing idle on congested roads.
All projects will be jointly funded by the Australian Government and the relevant State government.
Funding will be subject to State and Territory Governments signing National Partnership Agreements on the establishment of Single National Jurisdictions for heavy vehicles, interstate rail operations and maritime regulation.
Well targeted, high quality investment in infrastructure is vital to lift the productivity of our cities. The 2011 Budget includes a range of new measures to encourage increased private sector participation and investment in our nation's infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Investment and Financing Reforms package of measures will improve the quality of infrastructure development and private sector opportunities to invest in infrastructure, including in urban areas, by:
- enhancing the role of Infrastructure Australia (IA), including through IA publishing project assessments and cost benefit analyses where information is not commercially sensitive;
- establishing special tax provisions to improve certainty for private sector investment in nationally significant projects by removing the Continuity of Ownership Test and the Same Business Test and uplifting early stage losses by the government bond rate.;
- enhancing the transparency of planning, implementation and evaluation of infrastructure projects;
- ensuring that the Government undertakes post-build evaluations of Australian Government funded projects; and
- establishing a comprehensive National Infrastructure Construction Schedule, listing large economic and social infrastructure projects in Australia to complement the National Priority List.
A key challenge facing Australia is the imperative to lift economic productivity to ensure that Australia's economy is built to compete and prosper in the global economy and continues to deliver wellbeing and quality of life for all Australians.
A crucial plank in lifting Australia's productivity is continuing to invest in economically productive infrastructure. In a significant reform the Australian Government established Infrastructure Australia to provide strategic advice to Government on national priorities for investment and reform. The Australian Government is committing additional funding of $36 million over the next four years to continue and strengthen Infrastructure Australia to develop long-term strategies to tackle infrastructure bottlenecks, improve our vital freight networks, and promote private funding of domestic infrastructure by investors like superannuation funds.
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