Through City Deals, governments (including local governments), industry and communities will develop collective and coordinated plans for growth and commit to the actions, investments, reforms and governance needed to implement them. City Deals, according to the minister, are designed to drive reform through incentivising actions and accountabilities at the state and local level.
For local government, City Deals are a way to work with other levels of government and other organisations to identify needs and opportunities at that local level and tailor policy behind it.
The Government has committed to early deals for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. If this sets a precedent, deals in regional centres will feature strongly in the program. With Australia’s regional centres vital to the performance of the wider Australian economy, improving their productivity and liveability is important for the whole country as well as their local governments and residents. And the numbers are not insignificant – there 31 regional cities (with populations of over 50,000) in Australia, and 4.5 million people call them home.
Future City Deals will be offered via a competitive process – which will be launched in 2017. Cities, or parts of cities, will be selected though consultation with state and territory governments, prioritising areas where the opportunities are greatest. For local councils, now is time to start work on plans for what it might be that we can do in a city to really have an impact.