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Towards an urban policy contract for Australia

By Bryan Moulds - posted Tuesday, 15 May 2001

Cities are at the hub of human existence, especially in the developed world because they provide the economies of scale and the interchange of knowledge that leads to innovation, social and cultural advancement and the wealth generation that ultimately feeds growth.

As one of the most urbanised nations in the world, Australia needs a committed strategy for building greater liveable cities, designed to compete globally, encourage innovation and creativity, and sustain wealth creation.

Carnegie Mellon University (USA), Professor Richard Florida studied the most currently successful US cities and found…"the rise of the new economy has radically altered the ways that cities and regions establish and maintain their competitive advantage. In the new economy, regions develop advantage based on their ability to quickly mobilize the best people, resources, and capabilities required to turn innovations into new business ideas and commercial products".


Our cities and regions face major challenges from the pressures of growing urbanization, regional competition and the harsh consequences of the impacts of social downsizing. The integration of urban and regional Australia into the national and international economy through policy commitment is the pathway for meeting these challenges.

To meet these challenges our cities will require

  • a massive commitment to education and skills development;
  • upgraded leading practice infrastructure in both traditional and emerging technologies;
  • re-assessment of the traditional federal, state and local government hierarchies;
  • a renewed focus on people;
  • strong leadership and communication;
  • environmental responsibility and
  • brand power.

Why a Strategy?

The message for Australia is that successful cities - cities that thrive economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally - will provide the future prosperity for the nation.

The Property Council believe that the Federal government has both the capacity and the responsibility, in consultation with States and local government, to plan for the long term with respect to industry and workforce development, the provision and maintenance of infrastructure and services, and environmental sustainability. All of which underlay where and how people live, work and prosper.


Competitive strategies for cities begin with investment in the institutions that build a knowledge base and enhance cultural assets. Successful cities are magnets for talent and capital. Strong capital growth maintains a growing economic base, sustainable environments and underpins the social capital of a community, region and nation.

Successful cities need new civic models and forms of governance. The outcomes for successful cities are greater life opportunities for all their citizens, the ability to retain their talented youth and attract new talents, through the growth of jobs and an increased and sustainable demand for products and services.

What is needed?

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About the Author

Bryan Moulds is Executive Director of the Property Council of South Australia.

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