Townsville investment future at risk
Townsville City’s future economic growth and social wellbeing performance dashboard were launched this week by the Prime Minister’s department responsible for Smart Cities, bringing more transparency and accountability to Townsville investment future.
The National Cities Performance Framework (NCPF) final report explains the critical scorecard of inputs, outputs and impacts that will guide and even determine the delivery of investment to the city now and in the decades to come.
Townsville was the first of the nominated capital and regional cities across Australia to launch a Smart City Deal with the federal government in December 2016, enticed by the final $100 million of the $330 million for the North Queensland Stadium development.
But like the initial consultation phase of the Smart Cities initiative, Townsville’s leaders and administrators have been “missing in action” in contributing to the future cities management framework in competition with futuristic cities across the world.
The abstinence of the Council and James Cook University and various local Boards raises questions about the strategic leadership capacity of the local government authority to align with future sources of investment.
Cairns is leading Townsville across a number of the initial indices including population growth, house prices, unemployment and employment opportunities.
Global technology, government and industrial interests will serve the future interests of the City if confidence and opportunity are measurable and transparent.
Townsville investment is in direct competition with 22 other cities across Australia and this performance data will ensure transparency and accountability across a suite of measures such as employment, livability, housing, governance and infrastructure, etc.
Federal minister announcement
The federal Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Cities, Mr. Angus Taylor said: “the tool was important because it reminded people that each city in Australia was different.”
“What it’s doing is providing the most recent data and this will be ongoing,” he said.
“We’ll be continually updating it, we’ll be continually looking for new data sources with a pure Australian focus.
“Therefore it allows us to really customise federal, state and local policies to the needs of a city, rather than imagining that there’s some silver bullet solution for all of our cities, which will work everywhere.
“With our regional cities, the great challenge is getting enough jobs and economic growth for their prosperity,” he said.
“Whereas in the bigger capitals, the huge challenge is jobs close to where you live, managing connections between where you live and where you work and making sure our housing is affordable.”
The NCPF report had drawn upon knowledge and expertise from thirty-three organisations who were directly consulted across the world. Twenty-nine contributed as reference groups and sixty-nine sources and references were provided by the various government, private and institutional organisations including universities.
Despite the Townsville City Council and the State Labor government signing off on the first Smart City Deal in Australia, the extensive knowledge, science and government community in the council and local university organisations have not been acknowledged in the report.
It seems Townsville leaders and administrators have made no explicit contribution to the future model of the city’s econmic and social management system framework.
Property industry credits dashboard
However, the Property Council of Australia who contributed to the reference groups has welcomed the final report. “This framework adds rigor to the debates that surround the changing nature of Australia’s cities”, said Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison.
“It shines a light on the different forces that are shaping our cities – from employment and congestion to connectedness and liveability.
“This is not a simplistic league table, it’s about better understanding the elements that create great cities and the challenges they face.
“What gets measured gets done – and this framework helps our policy makers measure the fundamentals in our cities.
“As the Productivity Commission recently pointed out, better functioning cities can provide a $29 billion increase in GDP. Our cities provide 80% per Australia’s GDP and our capital cities provide two-thirds of all employment and 80% of employment growth.
“The online portal is easy to navigate and will provide policy makers and the public with many of the materials needed to make better and more informed decisions.
“This Framework gives policy makers, the private sector and the public more insight into the performance of our cities.
“I congratulate Minister Taylor for bringing this work to fruition. This is a comprehensive initiative which will inform Federal, State and local policymakers. The Property Council is part of the Cities Reference Group which has informed this process.
“The big gap is the lack of data on housing supply which is a critical part of the housing affordability equation, and we again call on the Turnbull Government to reinstate the National Housing Supply Council to plug this gap.”
Townsville performance questionable
Based on Townsville’s current performance, the NCPF identifies that Townsville has an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, while the youth and indigenous unemployment rate is 22 percent respectively.
The median house price for houses in Townsville over a 12 month period was $339,000 for houses and $286,000 for units. 37.3 percent of housing in Townsville is used as rentals.
As Townsville investment interests are competing with cities across Australia and the world, it’s the nearest competitor from Cairns leading Townsville across a number of the initial indices including population growth, house prices, unemployment and employment opportunities.
Although the city has a projected 2031 population growth target of 2.5 percent per annum, the current growth rate is 0.74 percent. Over the past 10 years, the average population growth per annum was 1.93 percent. The NCPF shows Townsville’s current population is 179,000 people.
The national cities performance dashboard for Townsville can be viewed at https://smart-cities.dashboard.gov.au/townsville/overview
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