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The Prime Minister proposes using infrastructure grants to allow Commonwealth intervention in planning decisions.
AUSTRALIAN cities need to be better planned and the Federal Government is willing to use its power over the purse to ensure they are, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said last night.
The Commonwealth would consider linking all future infrastructure funding to conditions that would be imposed on projects, Mr Rudd said.
''The goal is that our cities have strong, transparent and long-term plans for growth and high-quality urban development - that our cities are productive, liveable and sustainable,'' he said.
''If the Commonwealth is to foot any significant part of the urban infrastructure bill'', it would ''expect to have confidence in the integrity of the strategic planning system in our major cities'', he told the Business Council of Australia in Sydney.
Mr Rudd outlined eight criteria for strategic urban planning to be based on:
Mr Rudd said new arrangements involving both the Commonwealth and states would be needed to assess performance against the criteria.
Australia's cities needed strategic planning to meet the 21st-century challenges of a population growing to 35 million by 2049, and the imperatives of lifting economic productivity and responding to climate change, he said.
Three key challenges for major cities were to make them productive, with efficient transport and communications; affordable and liveable communities; and sustainable.
Bottlenecks in road and port systems were imposing huge financial costs on exporters and businesses in general.
Urban planning was an important part of the ''long-term agenda to build a fairer Australia''.
''With Australia facing rapid growth in the decades ahead, the time has now come for the Australian Government to take a much greater national responsibility for improving the long-term planning of our major cities,'' Mr Rudd said.
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