The Property Council of Australia is pushing for city policy to be a priority for the next federal government, noting that the way sectors plan for and invest in Australian cities will have a substantial impact on the future economy and quality of life.

The City Deals framework developed under the Coalition government has strengthened the focus on city-shaping projects and engaged all three tiers of government, according to Ken Morrison, chief executive of the Property Council of Australia. However, he said that City Deals must be improved to take on the bigger challenges in the cities.

“Given Melbourne’s rapid growth and national economic significance, it is the obvious missing link in the City Deal framework and should be a priority for the next federal government,” Morrison said. “Delivering good growth in our cities and regions demands more than just tinkering with immigration levels. Good growth requires real policy purpose and investment in priority infrastructure projects to help our cities and their residents reach their full potential.

The Property Council supports targeted measures that promote dispersal outside the big cities. These measures were reported to be welcome in many parts of Australia.

“However, the most important numbers to focus on are the real dollar commitments being made to the critical infrastructure projects which will support our growing cities. Our four biggest cities will continue to attract the overwhelming majority of migrants because that is where most Australians already live and work,” said Morrison.

The industry group has released a policy platform that includes several proposals to create great Australian cities. The platform includes accelerating City Deals across all capital cities and targeted regional cities; creating a Cities Advisory Board to improve city planning around major infrastructure projects; funding a Future Cities Cooperative Research Council; investing more in productive infrastructure according to the Infrastructure Australia priority list; and restoring the Asset Recycling Fund to incentivise major state projects.