Sydney Recovers From Lost Decade As Improved Urban Policy Takes Hold


New research shows Sydney continuing to drive the national economy with the country's largest and most important city continuing to bounce back strongly from its 'lost decade'.

Sydney contributed 30.3 per cent of all Australian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2014-15, according to a new report by SGS Economics and Planning. The report - The 2014-15 Australian Cities Accounts - measures the GDP of Australia's major cities and regions.

Report author and SGS Principal Terry Rawnsley said Sydney was the most important city in Australia in terms of both its share of the national economy and contribution to economic growth.

"However, the decade from 2000-01 could be described as Sydney’s ‘lost decade’. This period of relatively sluggish economic growth can been related to a number of factors, all of which contributed to a decline in Sydney’s competitiveness over that period," the report said.

One key factor was the ineffective application of urban policy, including:

  • Poor housing policies which have generated congestion and have also had a significant impact on affordability;
  • Lack of investment in transport capacity; and
  • Limited opportunities for businesses to locate in strategic locations at affordable rents.

2014/15 GDP Growth Rates (Courtesy SGS Economics and Planning)[/caption]
The last three years have seen the Sydney economy significantly outperform the rest of the country.

The report showed Melbourne contributed 24.0 per cent of all Australian GDP growth in 2014-15. Its 3.1 per cent increase in GDP was the strongest since 2010-11 with a broad range of industries contributing to growth. Increased mineral production drove the economy of Regional Western Australia which contributed 23.7 per cent to GDP growth. The end of the mining boom has been brutal on Perth’s economy, with GDP growth diving to 0.3 per cent in 2014-15. This is the lowest level of growth recorded for Perth since 1990-91.

Regional New South Wales, Regional Victoria, all of Queensland, Regional South Australia and Perth all experienced a fall in GDP per capita. Half of Australia’s population were living in a region with falling income per capita during 2014-15.

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