KPMG report on megatrends in global urbanisation, and Infrastructure Australia is doing ?

KPMG report on megatrends in global urbanisation How can government plan for infrastructure better so that it is timely, effective and sustainable? What is government doing to get rid of poverty in my city?

Almost two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities by 2030.1 Urbanization is creating significant opportunities for social and economic development and more sustainable living, but is also exerting pressure on infrastructure and resources, particularly energy.

While most urban growth will occur in developing countries, ensuring growing cities are properly managed will also be a priority for governments in developed countries as they strive to maintain competitiveness in the face of growing global competition. One of the greatest challenges that policy makers around the globe will face will be monitoring the process of urbanization and managing growth sustainably while ensuring adequate access to housing, water and energy for all citizens. Equally important will be awareness of the social and service-oriented impacts of urbanization, both positive (e.g. efficiencies of serving more concentrated populations) and negative (e.g. rural-to-urban dislocations, loss of family cohesiveness, homelessness and stresses that enhance needs for mental health and other types of services).

See here for the full 2030 series http://www.kpmg.com/global/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/future-state-government/pages/urbanization.aspx?utm_medium=social‐media&utm_campaign=2013-gov-future-state&utm_source=linkedin&utm_content=gbl+2013+nov+4+future+state+summary+urbanization

1.United Nations Population Division. 2012 World Urbanization Prospects – The 2011 Revision

Meanwhile,Alan Kohler reports in Business Spectator today about whats happening  back in downtown Canberra :

One of Australia’s many political ironies is that the national effort to Stop The Boats has disguised an immigration boom.

Immigration has increased five-fold since the Howard government came to office and with a big increase in births over the past ten years, in part also due to Howard government policies, Australia’s total population growth has doubled and is now about three times that of most other developed countries.

The Abbott government’s ambitious paid parental leave project will ensure that the baby boom goes on and the pressure for immigration from India and China – apart from New Zealand the two leading sources of migrants – will only increase as well.

Last year Australia’s population grew 1.8 per cent, or 407,000, compared with 0.7 per cent for the United States, 0.5 per cent for Europe and China, and minus 0.1 per cent for Japan.

The extra 400,000 or so people a year is the reason Australia has not had a recession for 23 years and it’s why GDP growth is now around 2.5 per cent. On a per capita basis, Australia’s economic growth is among the weakest in the world, and per capita consumption growth is zero.

In other words, population growth is the only reason it looks like the economy is growing.

One obvious consequence of Australia’s population boom, apart from disguising a fundamentally weak economy, is rising house prices because not enough houses are being built as a result of restrictive planning laws and high construction costs.

Not enough infrastructure is being built either, to the point where a national emergency is approaching.

There is far too much focus on politically motivated big ticket infrastructure projects that soak up the available funding, and not enough on what you might call business as usual infrastructure.

Infrastructure Australia was set up in 2008 to organise and prioritise infrastructure spending but six years later the CEO, Michael Deegan has written a deeply frustrated submission to a Senate inquiry, declaring: “there is an air of unreality about our infrastructure planning.”

The inquiry, by the way, is into the “Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill 2013”, which basically seems designed to scrap IA and start again. Deegan says the bill will make IA less independent; the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss says it will make it more independent but it doesn’t look that way.

Says Deegan: “several provisions in the Bill considerably broaden the power of a Minister to give specific directions to Infrastructure Australia in areas that are at the core of the organisation’s responsibilities, so independence is not in fact conferred.”

Rarely have we seen a more critical submission on a bill from a public servant, so Michael Deegan has obviously given up on his job and that of his chairman Sir Rod Eddington. Through more than 20 drafts of the bill, IA was not consulted on it at all.

Deegan’s broad complaint is that infrastructure planning in Australia is still not independent of politics.

That used to be true of monetary policy too, but not any more. It has been generally agreed that setting interest rates is too important a task to be left to politicians, so the Reserve Bank is now entirely independent.

With Australia’s population growing the way it is, infrastructure has become as important to the economy as monetary policy – if not more so.

IA should be given the sort of independence that the RBA has.



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