The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has called for appointing a Minister for Cities by the Federal Government as Australia and the world’s urbanisation rates continue to rise.
With two out of three Australians living in our capital cities and urbanisation being a worldwide trend ASBEC believes that the government must stop ignoring this important opportunity and provide a coordinated approach to our cities and their unique issues.
The Federal Government’s State of Australian Cities Report 2014-2015 was released this week and shows that our cities are beginning to reflect the divide in the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ – with the socially disadvantaged living in the sprawling outer suburbs and those with higher incomes living in inner city areas with access to better services, infrastructure and jobs.
Ken Maher, President of ASBEC and Professor of Practice UNSW Built Environment Faculty puts it eloquently in terms of the cost of congestion if we don't get it right.
"Communities have lamented problems caused by poor urban design and a lack of infrastructure planning for years. City dwellers suffer traffic gridlock, air pollution, impossible commutes, a lack of green space and sedentary lifestyles leading to poor health. Infrastructure Australia also predicts a huge economic toll, with the cost of congestion potentially hitting $53 billion a year by 2031.
"Economically, Australia’s cities are the powerhouses of the nation, generating more than 80 per cent of our GDP. Current population growth trends mean we are more than 200,000 houses short of accommodating everyone, not to mention critical infrastructure required by a growing population.
"This is good news for the construction industry, but it’s important that we design this growth to ensure that our cities deliver the best possible places for all of us."