Archive for the ‘Urban development’ Category

Urban affairs off the federal agenda?

June 11, 2013

A Cockatoo member recently asked for the name of the shadow Minister for Urban Affairs. Tough question. So I rang the Liberal Party HQ. ‘There isn’t one’ came the reply.

So I rang the Office of Warren Truss, shadow minister for infrastructure and transport. His staffer said that urban affairs is a state issue. ‘Not true!’ I countered. But she stuck to her guns and double-checked with another adviser – same message.

I respectfully suggested that the federal government MUST play in this field because of its responsibilities in the environment, infrastructure, building and planning codes, housing and community services etc. Still no traction, but we parted on cordial terms.

Urban councils need to an active interest here. At the very least, an Abbott Government needs a savvy young parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Infrastructure & Transport – to liaise with the States and local government and coordinate the many federal agencies in this critical area. This would allow Minister Truss to focus on the traditional love of the National Party.

We await developments with interest!!

Leveraging defence expenditure for wider outcomes

October 18, 2011

 We are currently identifying the scope to leverage defence expenditure for wider economic and commercial outcomes at the regional level. We put a request out to Cockatoo members for any insights and got some very interesting snippets.

 From Stu Rosenfeld: ‘As part of recentFortBragg inNorth Carolina is treated as a large economic hub, if not a cluster in the conventional sense.  The cluster impact is mostly based on meeting the needs of the large and mobile population residing there such as purchasing some local foods, landscaping, refuse collection, hospitality and recreation, transportation, retail, many other services.  But the larger military supply chain for the base, e.g., equipment, technologies, etc. is global.  The defense clusters we typically work with are defense contractors like the Technology Coast Manufacturers Network in northernFlorida.’

 From an ex-senior (very) official in Defence Department (Australia): ‘The trick to industry development would be working around a matrix of (a) niche areas of defence capability that will be in demand over the next 10-20 years, and (b) the fields in which our defence companies have some sort of competitive advantage. But my old department won’t share the information!’

This could be the kernel of a fascinating project. Does anyone know of anything similar in other countries?    

Projets grandes en Paris

January 18, 2011

Europe focuses less on new, zero-carbon proto-villages – though these are happening – than on reworking the existing metropolis.

And the most exciting is Paris. It has a history of grand projects, most memorably Mitterrand’s, which included I.M. Pei’s Louvre pyramid, Jean Nouvel’s Arab Institute, Carlos Ott’s Opera de la Bastille, Bernard Tschumi’s La Villette and Gae Aulenti’s Musee d’Orsay. But they were buildings – classic political point-at-ables. What Paris proposes now, under (of all people) Nicolas Sarkozy, is both more sophisticated and more significant.

But people didn’t expect urbanism from Napoleon either, who (with Baron Haussmann) so transformed Paris as to make it not only the model for Europe but the reason Paris withstood the mid-century urge to sprawl. Fast-forward to Sarkozy. A remarkable speech in 2007, just four months post-election, called for a complete “rethink” of the city.

This grand-scale project was “nothing like a classic urban design competition”.

Rather, it was “a collective effort to understand what cities are” and to “save our planet from imminent destruction”.

So began Le Grand Paris, a study of post-Kyoto Paris. The 10 architect-led teams included artists, poets, philosophers, sociologists, the entire rive gauche racaille). Rather than competing, they were asked to pool their imagined Parisian futures. This was big. They weren’t just French. Not just French men. But (mostly) French male architects – that’s a triple-whammy ego-load. We’re talking Jean Nouvel, Roland Castro, MVRDV, Richard Rogers and the like. Yet they did it, and in a manner that let Sarkozy applaud their “advice, wisdom and humility”.

And there is agreement to co-operate in a masterplan with €25 billion ($33 billion) backing, just for stage one.
Sarkozy insists it is time for collective action. He proposes new networks of rail and water transport to support a polycentric city, new governance regimes, a mix of social housing, 10 major new parks and building over the Peripherique. Most significantly of all, he also proposes to increase density, building 70,000 new dwellings a year within the existing footprint, with a green belt to stop sprawl.

Source: Elizabeth Farrelly, SMH

Cluster experiences please!

October 18, 2010

Dear Colleagues, I’ve been asked by UN Habitat, to contribute to a chapter on the state of city clusters in the next State of the World Cities Report (SWCR), due for release mid 2011.

I though this would be an opportunity to tap into the Cockatoo Network for a bit of brainstorming on where we are globally on clusters – especially the contribution they make to local economic development. Given the global coverage of the SWCR, this is an opportunity for us to promote wider interest in clustering and to expand our network.

There are a series of questions that UN Habitat has put to me related to clustering that they’d like covered in the report. I have set these out below. The UN is particularly keen to explore differences between clusters in developed and developing countries. I would be very pleased to get members thoughts and ideas (especially on clusters in Latin America and Africa) to include in the chapter. I am looking for good case studies and information on indicators to enable comparisons between clusters.

Research Questions

1. How important are city clusters or as an urban-led approach to development?

2. What are the different patterns of clusters in different regions of the world- North America, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, What are their characteristics and defining features?

3. How significant is planned infrastructure to the development of city clusters (mainly in the global North) in the development of city clusters compared to city clusters that are more ‘spontaneous’ or resulting from the economic dynamism of regions without clear planning structures and strategies'(mainly in the global South)

4. Is there a set of indicators that could serve as a platform of comparison of city clusters such as economic output, population, aggregated GDP, technological innovations etc.

5. How significant are city clusters in contributing to prosperity; for instance, in terms of increasing income, increasing employment and reducing poverty. Are there good case studies and examples of this?

6. What are the comparative and competitive advantages of factors that make some city regions particularly attractive to the formulation of clusters?

7. What are the challenges associated with urban regions – management/ environmental and economic and social problems accompanying the development of city clusters?

8. What good practice policies have been adopted to facilitate the development/management of city clusters. Could some be made more effective. Which are the urban regions with global best practice?

I would welcome ideas, comments, information and suggestions from you. Please send these to my email Thanks for your help in advance.

Brian Roberts, Cockatoo Network Member

Dept. National Development urgently required, says Silverhawk

May 9, 2010


Leading demographer Bernard Salt has calmed fears that Australia’s population growth over the next 40 years will significantly impact on our environment and living standards. It follows an ABS report that Australia’s population is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Then the Greens got excited and even ex-Labor frontbencher, Kelvin Thomson, began hyperventilating about a ”recipe for environmental devastation, rising interest rates and unaffordable housing”.

Salt spoke at a recent RDA gathering in Canberra about how we can cope with 35 million people if the necessary adjustments are made. He noted that “we do need to alter our lifestyle plan very carefully for this, because we can’t continue to live the way we are living at the moment.”

I fully agree with Salt. The necessary adjustments must include a solid debate about urban and regional development. The social and environmental cracks are widening every day in our four largest cities. To this end, Transport Minister Albanese says that by January 2012 all States will have capital city plans, and that he will be tying future Commonwealth urban and infrastructure to those plans. But there no policy research is done at the federal level. As with many policy agendas these days, the feds are setting the broad parameters via the COAG process, and then leaving it to the states to basically do as they like.

As I write, Agriculture Minister Burke has been given the job of developing a strategy for managing Australia’s population growth. Sounds like a token effort, and while DAFF has lots of spare capacity, it hasn’t got the smarts to properly consider the population issue. Rudd has to seize the high ground before Abbott does. The smarter option would be a Department of National Development, perhaps modeled on the Commission for the Future (1986-1988). Its role would be to really understand the population-environment nexus, urban congestion, land supply and housing costs, the cost-benefits of decentralisation, the impact of immigration etc. Local government should be pushing hard for this because it’s their bread and butter.

Collaborator Profile – Nick Keyko

June 18, 2009

Who and where are you?

 My name is Nick Keyko. I currently live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – where I was born and raised.

 What’s your job?

 I am a Coordinator with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. EEDC is a not-for-profit company strategically focused on Edmonton’s economic future – its purpose is to increase prosperity and the quality of life for people of the Edmonton region by promoting economic development, marketing Edmonton as a tourist destination, and by managing the Shaw Conference Centre and Edmonton Research Park.

 I work within the Economic Development department, focusing on Business and Industry Development. My group is responsible for the attraction of organizations to the Edmonton region and the retention and expansion of existing Edmonton organizations.

Currently, we are working with a variety of stakeholders to ensure the sustainable long-term growth of the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, and Health industries, as well as Advanced Technologies and Education.

 What’s exciting you at present?

 New Urbanism – a development theory that is focused on creating neighbourhoods that are diverse walkable, accessible, sustainable and architecturally significant. As the world’s urban population increases, cities will need to address their planning policies to ensure that urban communities are able to flourish.

Direct Trade a huge step beyond free trade – and even a step beyond fair trade – direct trade is a system built on principles of true collaboration, participation and justice. With an increasingly global marketplace, equitable trade practices need to be promoted to ensure that trade agreements are just and profitable for all parties involved.

Moving to Australia! – my wife, a registered nurse, and I have decided to make the move from Canada to Australia in November. We are excited to live, work and play in one of the World’s most beautiful settings. Currently, we are in the midst of Visa applications and actively looking for work.

 Your top 3 tips on how to collaborate?

 1. Come to a consensus on the desired outcomes – having a clear focus helps the group to stay on task.

2. Develop a multi-faceted matrix – ensuring that the individuals represent a variety of backgrounds creates a group that builds on the strength of its members.

3. Appoint a leader to facilitate the collaboration – a leader will facilitate collaboration between individuals to ensure the group works effectively. Don’t be afraid to consult an outside professional.

 Nick Keyko, Business Development Coordinator, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, World Trade Centre, 9990 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Canada +1 (780) 401-7695


Infrastructure Australia’s audit – complex but timely

February 10, 2009


The announcement (3 February) of an extra $500 million to expand the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program was welcome. It was especially so for councils that had made submissions on 23 December for the $50 million then on offer, because they are first in the queue. The rest will miss out.

But the main game has been largely forgotten – Infrastructure Australia is to sign off next month on its final listings from the 94 initial priorities, although Rudd’s $42 billion expenditure package has complicated things.

Infrastructure Minister Albanese says it’s ‘an historic opportunity for the Australian Government to play a much more hands on role in infrastructure investment’. But the process is going to bumpy. First, some state governments have put forward some real try-ons. We estimate that one third of the projects would fail any financial viability test e.g. the Very Fast Train (Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne) has been dusted off, but wise heads in Canberra say it’s 30 years away.

Secondly, the recession means that most of the cost-benefit analyses supporting the 94 projects are out of date.


Thirdly, the projects involving big expenditure raise tricky policy issues. Where to start in evaluating the Pilbara Housing & Indigenous Infrastructure ($2.1 billion) and Broadband for Remote Communities ($200 million) projects? Similarly the Oakagee Port, WA ($3.5 billion) calls on the WA Government and the feds for $339m each at a time of plummeting iron ore sales and finances. And a Road Tunnel alternative to the West Gate Bridge ($3.5 billion) – whatever happened to rail transport?? And Canberra’s Light Rail ($2.95 billion) – a sheer waste unless the Stanhope Government agrees to some serious in-fill and urban consolidation.


Best approach – firstly run with those projects where there are demonstrable public benefits e.g. Pacific Highway upgrades and F3-M2 ring-road link in Sydney ($4.75 billion). And let’s not forget Greater Brisbane. Also needed is a better way of measuring public benefits, so that PPPs have a sounder future. The Eddington report gives a great overview.


Go to


In support of regional cities

February 10, 2009

Geoff Kirton, a director of Agribusiness Gippsland Inc., has penned some thoughts for Cockatoo readers.


Brian Clancy (Weekly Times Dec. 31, 2008) has written about the size of cities/towns and decentralization.


He basically said that 64% of Australia’s population lives in the capital cities, and urbanization rates are double that of the US, with only nine cities with more than 1 million people. The largest city is New York with 8.4 million, second is LA with 3.8 million, compared to Sydney with 4.3 million, Melbourne close to 4 million.


Clancy says it’s too late to change this because the votes are now firmly entrenched in the capital cities and therefore the money will be spent there, even though the same amount of money would be better spent developing regional cities where the government and the people would get far greater “bang for their buck”.


I am a firm believer in decentralization and the lack of it is a major impediment for future development. The lack of a decentralization policy is draining regional areas of their youth. Where do they head? Capital cities! Do they return? Very few do. What we get is a movement of retirees to regional areas, as they sell off their homes in the capital cities for big money, and buy in at a much lower rate in regional areas.


Access Economics did a study about 7 years ago which showed the employment generator effect of age demographics. People under 35 create something like 3.9 jobs (school teachers, child care workers, orthodontists, specialist medical providers, hospitality industry etc, etc). By the time they reach 50 years of age it is down to about 0.9 jobs, by age 70 it is down to a net job loss in an area of about 1.4. Regional areas are dying at an accelerated rate and these figures help to show why.


Building regional cities spreads the population, services become more widely available, SMEs thrive servicing the population. There is not the drain of young people, families are not as dislocated and valuable agricultural land on the fringes of capital cities is not swallowed up by concrete.


Geoff can be contacted at

Collaborator profile – Jim Fountain

February 10, 2008

Who and where are you? Jim Fountain, Gold Coast City Council, Australia  

 What’s your job? To promote the region as a business location by establishing and maintaining contacts in the business community and assisting industry to establish and/or expand their operations in the region. Major focus on the marine industry and export development. Grew up in Melbourne and an early starter in snow skiing. Competed in still water and surf swimming events, winning a number of Victorian championships and an Australian interstate championship. Represented Victoria six times before winning a sports scholarship to an American university. Spent over four years in various parts of the USA. Worked with the AFL Bears, Griffith University. 

What’s exciting you at present? Market research and planning, overseas trade, industry clustering, industry strategy formulation, Yatala Enterprise Area and Gold Coast Marine Precinct. Enjoy teaching others – providing the experience from my years of varied work. I have enjoyed successful collaboration – organising trade missions to Middle Eastern countries and China; Marine Industry Skills Audit; Marine Supply Chain survey; implementing the technology incubator at Griffith University; boat show displays at  Dubai, Fort Lauderdale, Phuket, IBEX , Miami, Shanghai.

What collaborative projects do you have to interest Cockatoo readers – Ausindustry has been a close collaborator, as have Gold Coast universities. Industry clustering is a focus – we are thus interested in sharing ideas with other cluster groups, and to facilitate international JVs in education, marine, health/medical, creative industries, food manufacturing, environmental industries, tourism, sport and ICT. Open to any suggestions. Cockatoo’s Thinker-in-Residence proposal could be VERY relevant to you! A working holiday in Australia’s top leisure region!

Web Email: Phone:  +61 7 5581 7547

London and New York in the 21st Century

February 10, 2008

In 2000 the world’s leading cities were New York and London, but this might not have been predicted in 1900.

Although London was the Imperial City and the world’s largest in 1900, New York was the world’s fastest growing. Both faced major challenges but were serving rapidly growing markets. Investment in infrastructure and promoting trade helped the cities grow, and after two world wars, a depression, and a cold war, they both emerged strongly in the 1990s.

But what will happen by 2100? The Urban Land Institute, combined with New York University and London South Bank University is beginning a year of dialogue on the subject.

Part 1 of my report is available here, and Part 2, here. 

Contributed by Greg Clark, Visiting Professor, London South Bank University – go to  

BOTTOM LINE – an interesting and well-written comparative analysis of the two cities, and others. It includes a ranking by Mercer Consultancy of the cities with the best quality of life. The Top 3 are Zurich, Geneva and Vancouver. Auckland is noteworthy at No. 5 while Melbourne slips to 17th. Sydney comes in 9th, while Perth 21st and Adelaide 30th. Brisbane misses out as usual)