While the upcoming federal budget is expected to focus on job creation, an academic believes the opportunity exists for a “population and infrastructure reset” to relieve pressure on Australia’s largest cities.
RMIT associate professor Andrew Butt has called on the government to recognise the COVID-born opportunities for regional planning and development ahead of the 11 May federal budget.
In fact, Mr Butt believes that Australia’s largest cities are bursting at the seams and that now could be the perfect time to relieve this pressure.
“COVID-19 has shown the dominance of population and jobs in metropolitan regions has its limits and that many Australians would and can choose regional towns and cities as their preferred homes,” Mr Butt said.
“Opportunities for the decentralisation of work and better transport links are evident and projections of lower population growth in large cities suggest now is the time for this investment,” he argued.
This, Mr Butt noted, requires infrastructure support, including through telecommunications and housing diversity. As such, he urged the federal government to work with the states and territories to target housing choice and affordability in Australia’s regions.
“Housing investment for both social and affordable housing should maximise the use of existing infrastructure in smaller cities and regions.
“It should also recognise the inherent liveability in many communities, where population ageing, rapid price increases and a poor rental market challenge social and economic health,” Mr Butt said.
A further benefit, he pointed out, is climate care.
“Regional landscapes also offer significant opportunities to meet climate change challenges.
“National approaches to create new energy landscapes, including large-scale solar and wind, should be a priority, along with support for supporting infrastructure,” Mr Butt said.
Recognising that many of these goals require state and territory regulatory support, he noted the economic motivations should be driven by federal investment and taxation incentives.
His comments come after the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision to maintain the cash rate at it's historically low level of