Property Australia

Why City Deals are the real deal


Three new City Deals for Hobart, Adelaide and South East Queensland are in the pipeline as Australia moves forward with a model to drive good growth, says the Property Council.

In the last month alone, South East Queensland gained commitment from three tiers of government to progress a City Deal that would build 800,000 homes for the expected 1.9 million extra residents by 2039.

Adelaide has a $551 million promise to support population growth through targeted investment in a new national space agency, major cultural attractions, high-tech businesses and world-class education facilities.

And Hobart has a $1.43 billion, 10-year deal which aims to boost jobs, bust congestion and maximise Macquarie Point’s potential as a major scientific, tourism and cultural hub.

These three City Deals join six others – for Darwin, Launceston, Townsville, Western Sydney, Geelong and Perth – that have been either signed or signalled since December 2016.

City Deals align planning, investment and governance to accelerate growth, stimulate urban renewal and drive infrastructure building. The model has been championed by the Property Council since it first proposed the concept as a “smart approach to supercharging economic growth and productivity” in 2014.

In 2018, the Property Council commissioned Creating Great Australian Cities, a report which explored how City Deals and other policy mechanisms could be leveraged to enhance the productivity and liveability of Australian Cities.

Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison says City Deals are the “real deal”.

“Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world with fast growing cities which are magnets for talent, investment and jobs,” Morrison says.

“The way we plan and invest for the future of our cities will have a huge impact on the Australian economy and our future opportunities.

“There is a ‘good growth’ dividend for our cities – better productivity, more economic opportunities and a better quality of life for residents. City Deals help to drive good growth and create great Australian cities for everyone.”

South-east Queensland’s deal is the “largest and most complex” so far, said Alan Tudge, federal minister for cities, urban infrastructure and population, after signing the statement of intent on 15 March.

“We know that south-east Queensland is one of the fast-growing areas of Australia,” Tudge said.

“And we need to make sure that the three levels of government are working cooperatively to ensure that we can maintain the pace of growth, while ensuring that we maintain the liveability at the same time.”

The agreement follows hot on the heels of economic modelling which finds the region’s economy could be “$58 billion bigger” with the support of a City Deal. Transforming SEQ, written by KPMG, modelled a 0.25 per cent increase in multi-factor productivity growth.

Speaking at a packed Property Council luncheon just after signing the statement of intent, Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad heaved a sigh of relief, telling the audience that “fundamentally I now think this is going to go ahead”.

The federal government has said all nine City Deals will progress, irrespective of the outcome of the federal election in May.

The Australian Labor Party supports the City Deals concept, however shadow minister for cities, Anthony Albanese, has flagged some changes to the program. A federal Labor government would “overhaul and replace” the Coalition’s City Deals with a City Partnerships program that Albanese has said “will foster more genuine collaboration between the three levels of government”.

Albanese has said Labor would re-establish the Major Cities Unit within the independent Infrastructure Australia and require it to use transparent measures to both recommend and assess the progress of City Partnerships.

The Property Council’s Ken Morrison says the City Deal model, built around city-shaping infrastructure, “is a policy tool that must be strengthened and deepened”.

“With a federal election on the horizon, it’s vital we maintain the momentum and continue the good work that has been done to date. This includes a commitment to making City Deals ‘real deals’ with meaningful funding commitments for city-shaping projects.

“And it means expanding the City Deal framework to include all major capital cities – which is where most people live and where growth is accelerating.”

The Future Cities Summit, presented by the Property Council in partnership with principal sponsor JLL, will explore the potential of City Deals to power our future cities on Friday 24 May in Sydney. A limited number of tickets are still available.