Part 4: Activities

Smart Cities Plan

The Smart Cities Plan is a major policy initiative that sets the vision for productive and liveable cities that foster innovation, support growth and create jobs. It aims to harness smart investment, smart policy and smart technology to secure the economic success of Australian cities, and to make our cities great places to live and work. City Deals are the key mechanism to deliver on this vision. These bring together the three levels of government, the community and private enterprise to create long-term partnerships.

To support the Australian Government's Smart Cities Plan, the department:

  • bring together three levels of government, the community and private enterprise to create place based partnerships through City Deals
  • deliver the Australian Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program
  • maintain the national cities performance framework

The program contributed to one of our purposes: supporting regional development and local communities.


The department updated our purpose in December 2017 to reflect the inclusion of cities (Program 3.3) in our portfolio.

City Deals

City Deals provide a framework for collaboration between the three levels of government, community and private sector, and are designed to unlock economic potential in a city. The partnership focuses on aligning planning, investment and governance to accelerate growth and job creation, stimulate urban renewal and drive economic reforms to secure the future prosperity and liveability of our cities.

Our unique and diverse cities mean a standard approach will not work. Each City Deal is tailored to meet local needs and set out the specific investment, planning, policy or regulatory changes needed to unlock business and industry development, and to ensure community wellbeing. The department brings together decision makers and key stakeholders to identify priority issues for the city, and to develop various solutions that, once agreed, are implemented by the City Deal partners.

Our work on City Deals was highlighted in the Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, released by the Australian Government on 15 June 2018. This review describes how Australia is addressing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Townsville City Deal

Australia's first City Deal—Townsville—is a long term plan to achieve a shared vision for Townsville as an economic gateway to northern Australia, and a lifestyle-rich city for residents and visitors alike. The implementation plan identifies how commitments under the deal will be delivered over the next five years to boost confidence for industry and investors, create more jobs and stimulate a more diverse economy. Implementation of commitments under the City Deal are progressing well. In 2017–18 the department worked with partners through various stakeholder forums to release the first annual progress report in April.

Launceston City Deal

The Launceston City Deal is a five-year commitment (from 2017 to 2022) between the Australian Government, the Tasmanian Government and the City of Launceston. It is a collective program of planning, reform and investment to build on the region's natural advantages and improve the lives of residents. Over the longer-term, the City Deal will help position Launceston as one of Australia's most liveable and innovative regional cities. Commitments and targeted investment under the City Deal will maximise the potential of Launceston and its region by:

  • delivering growth in jobs, skills, business, industry and population
  • increasing innovation and industry engagement
  • promoting a healthy Tamar Estuary

In 2017–18 the department continued implementation through the Launceston City Deal Executive Board, which represents all levels of government and key investment partners to ensure coordinated and accountable delivery.

Western Sydney City Deal

Building on the Australian Government's $5.3 billion commitment to Western Sydney Airport, the Australian, New South Wales and eight local governments in Western Sydney signed the landmark Western Sydney City Deal on 4 March 2018.

For more information, please see the Western Sydney City Deal section of this report.

Future City Deals

The Australian Government's approach to City Deals is evolving and improving as it learns from local and international experience, particularly in the United Kingdom. Australia's first City Deals have helped create a shared vision for each city's future and confidence for investors. They have enabled us to broker outcomes beyond the provision of funding, and have addressed some of the policy, regulatory and administrative barriers to economic growth. In 2017–18 the Australian Government announced its intention to develop City Deals in Darwin, Hobart, Geelong and Perth.

Darwin City Deal

The Darwin City Deal is an opportunity to develop a more liveable city, create more jobs, and improve outcomes for Indigenous residents. Darwin is a unique city—Australia's only tropical capital city—and has a number of advantages including proximity to Asia. But the city is also facing challenges, including the wind down in construction of a major resource project, and slowing population growth. The department is working with the Northern Territory Government and the City of Darwin to identify areas where collaboration can build on Darwin's strengths.

Hobart City Deal

On 16 January 2018 the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, and Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Will Hodgman MP, marked the start of the City Deal negotiation by signing a Heads of Agreement outlining the vision and objectives for Hobart.

The city is undergoing a period of sustained growth. It has high employment, an increasing population and thriving industry sectors such as tourism. A Hobart City Deal will support this growth, capitalising on its existing strengths in Antarctic science, logistics and STEM disciplines to create new jobs and foster innovation. The department is working with the Tasmanian Government and the Hobart, Kingborough, Glenorchy and Clarence councils to develop the City Deal in consultation with key stakeholders. Working groups have been established to progress the focus areas. These are governed by a senior officials group and Joint Ministerial Committee.

Geelong City Deal

On 17 January the Prime Minister and Acting Victorian Premier, the Hon James Merlino MP signed a memorandum of understanding on City Deals for Victoria, with the first priority being Geelong. The Australian Government is working closely with state and local governments, business and community groups to develop the Geelong City Deal. It will support Geelong and the region to capitalise on competitive advantages, drive economic activity and generate employment growth, while maintaining liveability. Priorities include supporting tourism in the region, including along the Great Ocean Road, diversifying the economy, and ensuring transport and other infrastructure accommodates population growth.

Perth City Deal

On 27 April 2018 the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia, the Hon Mark McGowan MLA signed a City Deals memorandum of understanding, and agreed to prioritise a City Deal for Perth. This will build on the Australian Government's recent $1.1 billion commitment to METRONET, and focus on leveraging this transformative investment to maximise Perth's growth and development as a liveable, productive, and sustainable city. Three levels of government will work together on commitments in key areas related to METRONET. Discussions on the Perth City Deal are at an early stage, and include identifying opportunities that address local needs, challenges and priorities, and establishing governance arrangements. As part of the negotiations, local governments will be invited to present bold ideas for initiatives and reforms that will transform the future of Perth.

Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

Smart technology is a key pillar of the Australian Government's Smart Cities Plan. Digital technologies and open data will help cities realise benefits and opportunities.

The Australian Government's $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program supports urban projects that apply smart technology, data-driven decision making and people-focused design to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Applications are encouraged for collaborative projects led by local governments, which apply innovative technology solutions to urban challenges, and deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.

Forty-nine Round 1 projects were announced in November 2017 from all states and territories benefiting from the $27.7 million of Australian Government funding. In addition to this funding under Round 1, partners—including local governments, industry, research organisations and the private sector—are contributing almost $36 million. Collaboration between local governments, industry, research organisations, tech start-ups and manufacturers in cities and towns across Australia supports the growth of emerging industries. It also helps build smart city capability at the local level. Forty per cent of projects are located in regional areas.

In 2017–18, 176 applications were assessed for funding under the program and endorsed by independent probity advisors. Successful Round 1 projects will support a strong domestic digital technology sector and a 21st century knowledge economy. For example:

  • harnessing satellite surface temperature data to enable pedestrians and cyclists in Bendigo to map cooler routes on hot days
  • using Wi-Fi temperature loggers and infrared drone images to collect data on the effect of roof colour on home temperature, and displaying the data in new housing estates in outer Perth
  • investing in CCTV, Wi-Fi, bin sensors, electric car charging systems, renewable energy generation and LED public lighting to help digitally transform the South Australian town of Kapunda. Data analytics from this project will help market and promote the town

The Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, announced a second round of the program on 2 May.

National cities performance framework

The Australian Government's Smart Cities Plan measures the success of our policies and informs Australians about the trends and changes in our cities.

The online National Cities Performance Framework delivers on that commitment by publishing indicators to help measure the progress of Australia's cities. The framework:

  • supports better policies and interventions to improve outcomes in Australia's cities
  • informs the public about issues and trends facing our cities
  • helps governments monitor the progress of City Deals

The framework is the first of its kind for Australia and brings together critical cities information in an easily accessible online format. By regularly updating indicators of city performance, the framework increases transparency and accountability in decision-making, and links policy evaluation with measurable outcomes. The framework will help all levels of government deliver city policies that strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.

The first National Cities Performance Framework was launched on 8 December 2017. It measures the progress and performance of Australia's largest 21 cities plus Western Sydney. It is the first official framework of its kind in Australia and brings together critical data in an easily accessible online format. The final report has been downloaded more than 2,800 times, and the online dashboard had accrued over 58, 712 page views at 30 June 2018. The framework will help all levels of government, industry and the community to better target, monitor and evaluate cities policy and investments, including through City Deals.

In 2017–18 the department undertook research to identify and secure the best available city level indicators. The robust consultation process included expert workshops, roundtables, bilateral meetings and an online forum established for the Cities Reference Group. We also released the Performance Framework Interim Report for public feedback in July 2017. The interim report was downloaded more than 3,500 times and 35 submissions were received from stakeholders including local governments and peak industry bodies. The department also partnered with the Digital Transformation Agency to deliver the online dashboard, and worked with a consultancy to develop the underpinning data.

The framework is a living resource that will be improved through annual updates and three-yearly reviews. This includes ongoing cooperation with governments, industry and the community to improve the underpinning data.

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Last Updated: 12 November, 2018