The Interim National Cities Performance Framework (NCPF), released in late July by The Australian Federal Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor, has received mixed reviews, though has been broadly welcomed by housing and construction industry experts who have praised it as responsible planning for the future.
The Framework is designed to measure how Australian Metro capitals and larger Regional cities are performing against the Australian Government’s Smart City Priorities of jobs, skills, infrastructure and investment as well as liveability, sustainability, innovation, digital, planning, regulation, and housing.
“The Performance Framework will support all governments to better target, monitor and evaluate cities policy. It will be key to the Government’s commitment to continuous improvement through City Deals.The Performance Framework will also be a living resource to be improved over time, drawing on resources made available through the Australian Government’s open data initiatives, including data.gov.au and NationalMap,” said the Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.
The Draft National Cities Performance Framework was developed around twelve contextual indicators and 41 performance indicators for the country’s 21 largest cities and Western Sydney.
These include traditional economic and social indicators — such as unemployment rates, homelessness and average life expectancy, whilst also focussing on indicators highlighting some of the issues around living in major cities — such as traffic congestion and access to urban green space.
In developing the Performance Framework, the Government referenced a variety of Australian and international performance frameworks and research literature, and consulted with leading city policy and data experts.
The framework has been welcomed by Cities Reference Group, which includes representatives from across industry, the research community and non-government groups. Group member and CEO of Consult Australia, Megan Motto hailed the interim report as “a new era for cities and how they are managed.”
She highlighted that in 50 years’ time, Sydney will have doubled in size while Melbourne will be around the size of current day Melbourne and Sydney combined.
“A data driven approach to managing this future is critical, which is why the National Cities Performance Framework is so important,” she said.” For the first time, it will bring together data sources, from housing to commuter time and employment and air quality, breaking down silos to provide a holistic and much needed planning approach to our cities.”
The report was similarly welcomed by the Housing Industry Association which has been a long-time proponent of increasing Australian residential building.: “By releasing this report, the Federal Government has signalled to all levels of Government, the industry and the community at large that it is now a serious player in the development of Australia’s major cities.
“With appropriate measures in place, there should be much more rigour around government decisions that shape our cities will be made in the future,” said HIA Managing Director Shane Goodwin.
The Urban Taskforce was cautiously optimistic about the report but believes it was skewed towards the detached housing market with only limited measurement of the trend towards more urban apartment living. Contextual Indicator number 6 in the report measures median detached house prices, but there is a growing trend for apartment living which is not being measured. Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said: “The results from the 2016 census demonstrate that 21.8% of homes in Sydney are now apartments, and housing approval data indicates that over 60% of approvals are for new apartments…the National Cities Performance Framework must measure this trend.”
The Green Building Association (GBCA) believes the interim report is an important milestone on the path to smarter policies around cities. It has long advocated for collating and reporting on city level data and especially welcomes the online indicator dashboard. “For the first time, every Australian will have easy access to data that helps them understand how our cities are performing and how our governments are delivering meaningful outcomes for them,” said Romilly Madew, CEO of GBCA.
Although welcoming many of the components of the report, which includes Australia’s largest regional centres, the Lobby Group Regional Capitals Australia was quick to highlight that many indicators had been excluded around issues of data availability, measurement, and comparability. The Lobby Group felt that cities could not be accurately compared where the data sets were not the same. “There is a resourcing issue and different states have different priorities for collecting data. We would call on there to be more data to be collected,”said Chairman of the Group and Mayor of the Greater City of Geraldton in WA, Shane van Styn.
Among the data the lobby group highlighted as missing was emergency service response times, compliance rates of councils to their own policies, and the number of homes in disaster prone areas.
The full report can be downloaded here: https://cities.dpmc.gov.au/performance-framework