The government is taking a wiki-based approach to involve the public by providing a means for public input via the Our Cities website, with a deadline set for citizen response and engagement by March 1, 2011. Citizens are urged to take a look at the discussion paper, “Our Cities – Building a Productive, Sustainable and Livable Future,” available via this site. The 83-page report goes into great detail about the need for a new national urban policy. Among some of the guides for comments are discussions of investment in transport, water, sewerage and energy supply, as well as a call for policy action ideas, incentives and disincentives to increase walkability and reduce emissions.
According to Anthony Albanese, minister for Infrastructure and Transport, via the introduction to the discussion paper, “High on the Australian Government’s agenda is the need to provide jobs; better integrate land use and infrastructure planning; invest in modern public transport; protect transport, energy and communications corridors and provide buffers to significant strategic infrastructure such as ports and airports; balance greenfields and infill development, while ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing; reduce our resource consumption but at the same time prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change; and secure future water, energy and food supplies. Better planned cities and better services will make a real difference to improving social equity in our communities.”
This approach appears to be gaining ground as the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), along with a list of influential industry groups, corporations and academic institutions, has published an open letter in The Australian, that calls for a bi-partisan approach to urban policy across all tiers of government. The GBCA is currently leading the Green Star Communities project, a community scale drive for sustainable development that is being shaped around five national best practice principles of livability, economic prosperity, environmental responsibility, design leadership and governance.
The document decries a lack of spatial data in all of Australia’s cities to show the impact of population growth, planning decisions and urban development patterns. Clearly the whole suite of geospatial technologies will be instrumental in planning, modeling, managing and monitoring this new city planning approach. The country-wide scale of this effort to reshape the approach to urban planning will provide a framework for other countries to emulate.