Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

COAG on Cities

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) recognises the importance of cities to growth and productivity, sustainability and liveability, and also their importance to accommodating demographic change and population growth. COAG has highlighted that the effective organisation and planning of cities is vital for sustainable growth, increased productivity and wellbeing.

Capital City Strategic Planning System Reforms

In December 2009, COAG introduced capital strategic planning system reforms to ensure Australian capital cities are well placed to meet the challenges of the future. As part of these reforms, COAG agreed to a national objective for Australia's capital city strategic planning systems:

‘To ensure Australian cities are globally competitive, productive, sustainable, liveable and socially inclusive and are well placed to meet future challenges and growth.’

COAG also agreed to nine national criteria for capital city strategic planning system reforms. The criteria are designed ensure our cities have strong, transparent and long-term plans in place to manage population and economic growth, and consider housing affordability, urban congestion and climate change.

COAG Reform Council Review of Capital Strategic Planning Systems

As part of these reforms, COAG asked the COAG Reform Council, which is a jointly Commonwealth/State/Territory funded body, to:

  • independently and comprehensively review State and Territory capital city strategic planning systems against the nine nationally agreed criteria
  • support continuous national improvement in capital city strategic planning
  • build and share knowledge of best practice planning approaches.

Following extensive consultations with each jurisdiction and assisted by an Expert Advisory Panel, the Council prepared its final report on cities, Review of capital city strategic planning systems, which it submitted to COAG in December 2011.

The Council's report found that all jurisdictions had made considerable effort to participate in the review process and improve their strategic planning systems. It also found that jurisdictions shared a number of common goals, issues and challenges in dealing with the future of their cities.

The report suggests three key areas for further development:

  • Improving freight transport and intermodal networks to support forecast port and airport capacity and growth in the freight task
  • Putting more emphasis on public transport to combat congestion and address social inclusion by integrating transport planning with land use decisions
  • Improving project and cost-benefit analysis frameworks so they take better account of externalities and do not unduly discount future benefits.

COAG considered the Council's report in April 2012 and agreed that continued intergovernmental collaboration, including further work on cities, be taken forward by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI). Subsequently, SCOTI provided a response to the Council's report recommendations in May 2012.

The Department is working with SCOTI and each of the State and Territory governments to support improvements in strategic planning and sharing of best practice planning approaches. This sharing of knowledge and best practice benefits not just the capital cities but all of Australia's urban areas.


Last Updated: 11 August, 2014