The Urban Taskforce Meets With Canberra Politicians

The increasing importance of the federal government on urban planning issues has been reinforced by a recent forum in Canberra organised by the Urban Taskforce.


“A number of key members of the Urban Taskforce held a forum in Parliament House, Canberra, on Wednesday 31 July with federal politicians including The Hon. Alan Tudge and The Hon. Michael Sukkar,” says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “The Urban Taskforce presented to federal politicians on key issues in the planning of cities including the swing to apartment living, the importance of public transport infrastructure, the complexity of planning systems and the need to tighten systems to ensure building quality. Around 40 people attended the forum with representatives from the key political parties, senior policy advisers, high level bureaucrats as well as representatives from the ACT government’s planning arm and Urban Taskforce members.”


“The federal Minister for Cities, Population and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, outlined the government’s approach to population growth and the impact of Australia’s cities.  He stressed that the Federal Government was pro-growth and pro-business and the importance of planning systems that gave certainty to the development industry. Minister Tudge also outlined his interest in networks of satellite cities, that could include Newcastle and Wollongong, connected to Sydney by fast train.”


“Federal Minister for Housing, Michael Sukkar, presented his concerns regarding the slowing of the property industry and the need for confidence and certainty. He stressed that supply was the main gain, and that this required improvements planning approval processes, and the need for faster planning systems at state level to ensure that housing supply picks up after the recent downturn. He mentioned concerns regarding the NSW planning system.”


“Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson, outlined recent activities by the Urban Taskforce, including advocacy supporting a move towards a sustainable urban lifestyle through a campaign titled ‘Welcome Home’. He also presented recent publications that promoted the importance of new development to Australia’s economy.”


“David Ghannoum, Regional Managing Director NSW – Multiplex, discussed the importance of restoring confidence in the building sector following publicity around a number of projects with defects. He indicated the Urban Taskforce’s support for the national Shergold-Weir report on building standards and support for the recommendations of the ‘Building Stronger Foundations’ Discussion Paper produced by the NSW Government.”


“Joseph Rizk, CEO and Managing Director of Abal Bank, outlined the difficult economic environment in New South Wales, driven partly by tight credit levels for mortgages and by the length of time taken for approvals.”


“Kevin Nassif, Director, Holdmark Property Group, explained from a real project perspective just how long development approvals can take in Sydney, and the impact this has on developers. He outlined a project that after 8 years and despite what appeared to be approvals at various stages his company was now considering not proceeding with the project, leading to significant job losses. Kevin called for a much more supportive environment around large companies looking to invest in projects that are needed for growth.”


“A lively discussion followed the presentations about the roles of federal governments, state governments and local councils. There were concerns that more leadership was required to advocate for urban growth, and that planning systems must support this. Discussion also looked at ways to improve building standards particularly through intensive training of all involved.”


Urban Taskforce Chair, Peter Daly, in summing up the forum said, “It is clear that urban planning for population growth is a big issue in Australia. While much of the responsibility rests with state governments, it is clear that there are major financial outcomes that impact on the nation’s economic success. It is also clear that from a federal perspective that some states perform better than others and the federal government can encourage a greater consistency across the nation. It is also clear that the growth of cities is a major issue across the nation and that there is great value in federal policy makers hearing from practitioners on the ground and their frustrations of slow planning systems. Peter Daly thanked Ministers Alan Tudge, Michael Sukkar and all involved in a very fruitful discussion.”


The Hon. Alan Tudge, Chris Johnson and The Hon. Michael Sukkar

Joseph Rizk OAM, CEO & Managing Director – Abal Bank Australia, Peter Daly, Chairman – Urban Taskforce, Kevin Nassif, Director – Holdmark Property Group, Chris Johnson, CEO – Urban Taskforce, David Ghannoum, Regional Managing Director – Multiplex and David Tanevski, Managing Director- KWC Capital Partners.

                Chris Johnson and John Alexander OAM, Member for Bennelong

The Hon. Alan Tudge

The Hon. Michael Sukkar   

Read the full PDF Here