For committed urbanists, any sign of serious urban policy action by the federal government is welcome. Early announcements by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his appointment of a minister for cities were cause for some celebration.
The subsequent appointment of Angus Taylor as assistant minister for cities and digital transformation continued the positive outlook; a relatively new parliamentarian with a good track record of business development and an analytical disposition was entrusted to advance this policy agenda as reported by the Conversation.
April 29 marked the start of the next phase of policy development, when we got to see what a Smart Cities Plan looks like and whether it was worth the wait.
On first reading it contains all of the right words – smart, innovative, liveability and prosperity. It also advocated some sensible principles – collaboration, co-operation and partnership. But do these nice words and sensible principles add up to a real step change in urban policy thinking, or to a business-as-usual approach wrapped in the latest policy terminology?
At this stage we cannot be sure, but prospective partners in state and local government seem to have a fair degree of optimism about the plan.
Most sensible public bodies will profess their support, in principle, for any initiative that offers the prospect of new money to support development proposals in their area. They will commit, in principle, to working together for the common good in their locality. And, if necessary, they will rebadge their current plans to fit more easily with the rhetorical flavour of the new initiative.
The proof will, however, lie in the detail of partnership arrangements, in the implementation structures that are developed and in the way new money is allocated. Even more importantly, success will depend on whether the actual measures employed work in practice. To read more click here.
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