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UK infrastructure wisdom can help Aust 'boost productivity'

08 October, 2014

Australian infrastructure planners should look to UK 'City Deals' as a vehicle for lifting economic productivity, according to new research released by the Property Council of Australia.

UK City Deals are a formal agreement between the UK central government and a region aimed at boosting economic growth and productivity through a shared infrastructure deal.

The Introducing UK City Deals report prepared by KPMG for the Property Council outlines the benefits of this approach for Australian policy makers.

City productivity

"In Australia boosting national productivity means boosting productivity in our cities, and the UK City Deals approach provides a useful model," Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said.

"The Abbott Government has already launched a debate on federalism, refocused the role of Infrastructure Australia and led calls for reforms to increase national productivity.

"The UK has presented us with a recipe for best practice where different tiers of governments have varied roles in driving economic growth.

"Under UK City Deals, infrastructure needs are assessed and funded region-by-region, leveraging local expertise and other funding mechanisms, with clear rewards for success.

"Under the UK model, infrastructure funding is directly linked to economic growth. To be successful, projects must deliver the maximum economic bang for the taxpayer buck.

"A City Deal assigns funds by region or metropolitan area and relies on local expertise and creativity to maximise productivity outcomes."

Objective assessment

KPMG provided advice to all levels of government in the UK to implement the City Deal policy.

"The KPMG report demonstrates the value of an objective assessment process which aligns different tiers of government," Morrison said.

"Australia has the governance architecture to support a City Deal approach – but it would take a step change in collaboration by all levels of government.

"We look forward to partnering with all governments to explore the value of this model in Australia," Morrison said.

The Property Council is the lead advocate for Australia's property and construction industry, which generates 11.5 per cent of Australia's GDP, creates 1.3 million jobs and contributes $34 billion in real estate specific taxes.

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