Shortly after being appointed as Australia’s new leader, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the new ministry that would be supporting him.
Notable amongst Turnbull’s extensive changes to the cabinet was the appointment of former Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs as Australia’s first Minister for Cities and the Built Environment.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss continues in his role as Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.
Elaborating on the additional portfolio and the government’s new vision for Australian infrastructure, Turnbull said cities were critical to the country’s prosperity.
“Historically, the Federal Government has had a limited engagement with cities and yet that is where most Australians live, it is where the bulk of our economic growth can be found. We often overlook the fact that liveable cities, efficient, productive cities, the environment of cities, are economic assets,” he said.
“The most valuable capital today is human capital. Men and women like ourselves who can choose to live anywhere. We have to ensure for our prosperity, for our future, for our competitiveness, that every level of government works together, constructively and creatively to ensure that our cities progress. That federal funding of infrastructure in cities, for example, is tied to outcomes that will promote housing affordability.”
Turnbull also shared his views on transport infrastructure. These were said to differ from those of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, who appeared to show a preference for road projects.
“Integration is critical. We shouldn’t be discriminating between one form of transit and another,” Turnbull stated. “Roads are not better than mass transit or vice versa – each of them has their place. Infrastructure should be assessed objectively and rationally on its merits. There is no place for ideology here at all. The critical thing is to ensure that we get the best outcome in our cities.”
Following the announcement, Briggs commented, “It is vital that our cities are well planned, serviced with world-class digital and physical infrastructure, and environmentally sustainable so they continue to grow as economic assets into the future.
“Building world-class infrastructure is a key priority of the Australian Government to ensure we drive economic growth, revitalise our cities and support industries of the future.”
Another key appointment was Josh Frydenberg as Minister for Resources, Energy, and Northern Australia.
“I look forward to working hard to ensure our nation has a productive and innovative resources and energy sector and a Northern Australia which fully capitalises on its enormous potential,” Frydenberg said in response to his appointment.
Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia (CCAA) CEO Ken Slattery said the new ministry represented a “significant reinvigoration” of the Federal Government’s approach to several important issues for the quarrying and heavy construction materials industries.
“We welcome the Turnbull Government’s recognition of the critical importance of Australia’s cities to the ongoing prosperity of our nation. Cities are at the core of our economy and their further development will be crucial to future employment and growth.”
Slattery said Briggs’ “strong track record” in infrastructure would serve as a good foundation for his new role. “Cement, concrete and aggregates are, of course, the building blocks of cities, and assisting [Briggs] in building his understanding of the critical role that our industry has in supporting the development of our cities is high on our agenda,” he stated.
Slattery said the CCAA also welcomed Frydenberg’s elevation to the cabinet, pointing out that in his former role as Assistant Treasurer, Frydenberg had been a strong advocate for reducing government red tape.
“Accessing and developing Australia’s resources – including construction materials – is still hindered by layers of inefficient state government regulation,” Slattery commented.
“It will be important that Mr Frydenberg’s commitment to red and green tape reduction be carried through to his new portfolio and that he continues to challenge state governments to implement more efficient pathways for the development of the resources on which the nation depends.”