Next month I will host a timely international forum in Newcastle focused on ‘second cities’.
The Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter Symposium comes as Australia’s population reaches 25 million people, with 10 million living in either Sydney or Melbourne. While these metropolitan areas continue to thrive economically, residents and businesses face congestion, challenging access to jobs and services, and reduced housing affordability.
Outside the major state capitals, 31 Australian cities have a population greater than 50,000, according to the Regional Australia Institute (RAI). RAI states that such regional cities are free of many of the challenges facing the major capitals. They cite lower rates of crime, less congestion and reduced inequality as factors that make smaller cities highly productive and great places to live.
The symposium is part of a growing call for acknowledgement by government, industry and the community of the role of Australia’s smaller cities in contributing to the nation’s prosperity.
As a passionate Novocastrian, I am committed to better planning for our city’s future. I recently chaired an inquiry by the Committee for Sydney that resulted in the ‘Sandstone Mega-region’ report. Looking at international best practice, the report envisions treating Sydney, Wollongong, the Central Coast and Newcastle as elements of a single ‘megalopolis’ in terms of planning, infrastructure, and connectivity.
A leader in Australia in promoting the second cities agenda is the Committee for Geelong. They have delivered the Winning From Second report, which reveals the characteristics, challenges and opportunities of comparable cities in Europe and the US. This research underscores the need for greater policy and planning for second cities in Australia at the state and national levels.
A national campaign for a Second City Policy Framework was launched by the Committee for Geelong in July, with a Newcastle delegation attending and a vote of support from the City of Newcastle.
The Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter symposium builds on this new initiative. The symposium is being coordinated by the Hunter Research Foundation Centre in partnership with Hunter Water, AECOM and the Hunter Development Corporation.
The symposium will bring together experts and leading practitioners on themes of innovation, infrastructure and liveability. Futurist and business adviser, Bernard Salt, is the keynote speaker at the symposium dinner.
Set in and around the University’s landmark NeW Space city campus, the symposium will showcase Newcastle as an emerging global second city. The symposium will conclude with participants summarising insights and outcomes to create an action plan.
For information visit newcastle.edu.au/second-cities
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