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Australia is a nation of cities

By Carol Schwartz - posted Tuesday, 15 May 2001

The Property Council believes Australia is a nation of cities.

When I travel overseas, people don't talk to me about my home state Victoria, they talk about Melbourne. I'm sure the same is true for the rest of the country.

Australia's capital cities are the great brand names of this nation.


Please let me make clear that when the Property Council refers to cities we don't simply mean central business districts and we certainly don't mean buildings. We are talking about the people, the capital and the spirit that are a magnet for business and cultural activities.

The Property Council's ongoing research into capital cities shows they are the principal generators of Australia's economic wealth.

Cities are the main home of small businesses. They are also the country's largest employers and offer the greatest opportunities for employment growth. Industries located in cities generate the lion's share of government revenue through taxes on corporate activity, land, tax, CGT, payroll tax, stamp duty and income taxes on city workers.

We believe these facts make our capital cities Australia's greatest asset.

Unfortunately these facts aren't well recognised by federal, state and territory governments.

As a result, they have starved capital cities of funds. They have also confused responsibilities and accountability between different spheres of government, making it much harder for capital cities to satisfy the changing needs of their constituents.


The Property Council believes capital city governments, in particular, deserve the resources needed to act strategically. We believe we can help you obtain these resources.

This task is more difficult today than ever before. State and federal governments seem enthralled by the new myths of the political landscape.

Media sound bites that focus on small business, or rural Australia, or bank bashing and the like are the fast food of today's politics. And yet, after the initial sugar rush wanes, there is a strong desire for something more substantial; something relevant that focuses on the future, something that conveys a sense of optimism.

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This is an edited version of a speech given to the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors in Sydney on 15 April 1999.

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About the Author

Carol Schwartz was President of the Property Council of Australia at the time of this speech.

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