The wheeling and dealing of City Deals – where to from here?
Starting the year fresh? You may have missed the recent excitement in Australia’s regional city policy – City Deals.
First, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP was handed the cities baton in December and is now the Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities. This also means a departmental move for the Cities team, currently located in Prime Minister and Cabinet and now moving to the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.
There has been lots of talk of City Deals across Australia, from the eleven councils of South-East Queensland (including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba) to Karratha in WA. Everyone wants a deal.
However, when we have a look at the actual City Deal announcements made and agreements reached, we see that it is still only an elite group of six cities involved (see timeline). Refreshingly most Deals are in regional cities; Launceston, Townsville, Darwin, Hobart, Geelong and the Great Ocean Road.
So, regional cities like Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Tamworth, Rockhampton, Mandurah – be alert, City Deals are still a core part of the Cities and Infrastructure portfolio.
City Deals are a new approach in Australia, bringing together three levels of government, the community and private enterprise to create place-based partnerships. It follows that the City Deal process is a closed negotiation between key signatories (federal-state-local governments).
However, there is a need for outsiders and other regional city leaders to learn from the process so far. The following reflections aim to help regional cities not involved in negotiations understand what is going on and how it all works.
The Prime Minister and Cabinet’s City Deal team has identified the core of what a City Deal entails; six themes, principles and three criteria for successful City Deals:
- Willing and capable partners
- Opportunities to unlock economic potential and transform the city
- Alignment with broader investment and policy priorities
In our earlier report Blueprint for Investing in City Deals: Are you ready to Deal?, we proposed nine lessons that cities should consider if wanting to secure a City Deal, let’s take a look at how these stack up for our latest City Deal announcements.
Where to from here with City Deals?
After much discussion at the end of last year, we can now see that City Deals are still a viable policy, and one that regional cities are clearly part of.
However, this policy is not for every city – so you have to be ready to deal. Know the themes for investment, key priorities, and then reflect on chances of success.
Our nine lessons will help, as will the critical questions scattered throughout the Blueprint report. In addition we are updating our Cities Data Tool which will help all cities understand their economic priorities.
Let us know if there is something else you need to be ready to Deal. Tell us what tools, knowledge or resources would help you get ready for a City Deal.
Dr Leonie Pearson
Leader, Major Research Projects (Economist)