Australia creates Ministry for Cities and the Built Environment
Apparently, the previous Prime Minister was a road proponent primarily. See " Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of AustraliaPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cabinet reshuffle: first Minister for Cities and Built Environment appointed," and "PM appoints Jamie Briggs as Minister for Cities," Sydney Morning Herald. From the second article:
"Historically the federal government has had a limited engagement with cities, and yet that is where most Australians live," Mr Turnbull said. "It is where the bulk of our economic growth can be found. We often overlook the fact that liveable cities, efficient productive cities, the environment of cities, are economic assets."According to Architecture Australia ("PM Turnbull appoints new minister for cities"), the Australian Institute of Architects supports the change and made specific recommendations:
- appoint a federal government architect to further promote high quality buildings and public spaces, and provide expert, high level strategic advice
- adopt an urban design policy
- develop strategic planning for the built environment to promote globally competitive, sustainable and socially inclusive urban centres and towns
- increase density through design – to capitalize on the role of good design to accommodate urban growth
- champion world-class urban design and architecture to help solve Australia’s urban growth challenges and enhance the nation’s international design reputation
But of course that was a grandiose idea, as creating a new government agency requires Congressional approval. (I recommended other reconfigurations of other agencies as well.)
It doesn't work that way in the parliamentary government system, where the governing party possesses a great deal of authority on how it chooses to organize the way it governs. Of course, that can be good and bad, as priorities can change significantly from government to government.
Australia is different too from other parliamentary systems, because the legislative branch, the Parliament, has more power vis-a-vis the executive (Prime Minister), which is why the governing party, the Liberals, recently changed its leadership ("Australia shows us what parliamentary democracy looks like," Toronto Globe & Mail).
Urban and transportation policy in Australia. Like the US, in Australia, much of the authority concerning urban and transportation policy and practice lies with the states, although the national government in both places is a key funder.
-- Public Transport Network Planning in Australia: Assessing current practice in Australia’s five largest cities, Paul Mees and Jago Dodson, Griffith University Urban Research Program
-- Our Cities, Our Future | A National Urban Policy, Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Government of Australia
Victoria is a global leader in advancing policy and practice concerning transportation demand management.
Daily chart: The world's most 'liveable' cities"), retaining a dense network of streetcars, and has been quite creative in using block interiors ("laneways") as innovative spaces to support local retail and cultural activities.
Bike sharing isn't particularly successful there. This is widely attributed to mandatory bike helmet laws.
Note that other ranking systems put Sydney ahead of Melbourne ("
The country has a number of bus rapid transit systems and the Public Transport Users Association in Victoria state does a lot of great advocacy work.
As one of the world's early modern examples of starchitecture/architectural tourism, Sydney's Opera Hall is known world-wide, and Australia's capital city, Canberra, was planned in a manner comparable to Washington, DC.
Flickr photo by Bernard Spragg.