A long term game-plan for our cities

It was in 1889 in the little town of Tenterfield that Henry Parkes had Australia’s best idea: instead of six colonies, why don’t we become one country and solve our problems together?

Parkes thought one country could deliver a single defence force and a single railway gauge.

Parkes, who became known as the Father of Federation, never lived to see his idea of a shared Commonwealth take form. While he might have imagined the Commonwealth of Australia would form in a little over a decade, he would not have imagined that it would take a further 116 years later to deliver the single railway gauge!

The idea of all levels of government working together from the same game-plan is an old one in Australia. As the years have passed, addressing it has become more important than ever.

Last Sunday we made a big step in answering it, with the first major City Deal.

The Western Sydney City Deal, covering Australia’s fourth largest economy, puts federal, state and local governments on the same plane (pun intended) for planning, economic development, housing, jobs and community infrastructure.

At the centre of the plan is the Western Sydney Airport, linked with a new rail line and detailed planning for future growth.

The scope of the deal is significant. Instead of a haphazard approach to planning and economic development, we are seeing the three levels of government getting behind a single blueprint and making some substantial investments.

The Property Council pioneered the idea of using City Deals in Australia to drive the economies of our cities. While we have welcomed the Launceston and Townsville deals signed to date, this is the first large scale City Deal.

While there is always more to do, lots of detail to emerge and a few caveats about how the City Deal is to be implemented, we can be proud of the contribution we have made to seeding this idea across all levels of government. It’s a bright idea, and its time has come.

To see all three levels of government put politics aside and work on the long term future of one of our major regions is inspiring. Let’s hope we see more of it in the future.