Australian roundtable focuses on fragmented metropolitan regions

Australian participants at the Roundtable included senior federal, state/territory and local government representatives, together with other leading practitioners and academics.

The Major Cities Unit of Infrastructure Australia recently hosted an international roundtable on metropolitan governance as part of a joint project with the Forum of Federations and the Australian Centre of Excellence on Local Government.

The roundtable is the first step of a more substantive engagement by the Forum in Australia and also forms part of the preparations for this year’s World Urban Forum in Brazil. The purpose of the March 22 26 Urban Forum, established by the United Nations, is to examine rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

The Australian roundtable focused on the governance of fragmented metropolitan regions, in particular institutions and processes for intergovernmental coordination and delivery of services.

International speakers came from Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. Australian participants included senior federal, state/territory and local government representatives, together with other leading practitioners and academics.

The Forum played an important role in the event, contributing comparative international expertise, providing experts, as well as helping to design the substantive program and its processes.

The roundtable was an opportunity to compare recent experience in metropolitan governance and planning across Australia, and with international developments.

Discussions also provided valuable input to the work of the Major Cities Unit, Infrastructure Australia, in formulating a national cities strategy, and to the research program of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government.

A more comprehensive report on discussions will be compiled by early March 2010. The report will address the following issues:

  • What models of metro governance are being applied in our countries? Are there any clear advantages/disadvantages of the different models?
  • What are the key drivers of metropolitan governance: strategic planning, transport, infrastructure provision, economic development, efficiency/effectiveness in service delivery, social policy and local government autonomy?
  • What mechanisms are being used to promote effective inter-government relations in terms of policy, planning, or service/infrastructure delivery?
  • What mechanisms are being used to bring about coordination of policy, planning or service/infrastructure delivery within levels of government (local, state/provincial, national)?
  • To what extent has amalgamation of local governments been seen as a strategy for more effective governance? Has it delivered the desired results? Can it do so?
  • Do prevailing models of metropolitan governance also support community-level (suburb/neighbourhood/district) governance? If so, how? What are the implications of ignoring this issue?

The Australian roundtable took place Dec. 14 15, 2009.


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