Selection of Area Strategies

Over a number of months the Better Cities Task Force met, and debated and argued the strengths and weaknesses of State and Territory bids, and sought improvements and refinements. Progressively these were made.

At the same time more of the Intergovernmental Agreements were signed and working arrangements set in place for the necessary ongoing intergovernmental collaboration in the delivery, monitoring and assessment of programs.

A particular feature of the Agreement was that States and Territories had to agree to report annually to their Parliaments on the progress made under the Building Better Cities program. The Commonwealth would also report as a matter of course under the Annual Reports from the relevant Departments.

Finally, a number of submissions to Cabinet led the Commonwealth to endorse 26 Area Strategies across the nation to be funded under the program. The Area Strategies were as follows:




Area Strategies

New South Wales

Ultimo/Pyrmont High density affordable housing, planned light rail, sewerage and water systems, and a new neighbourhood park.

Transit West (West Sydney) Development of Parramatta and Blacktown as key regional centres; construction of Blacktown bus and rail interchange and the Merrylands-Harris Park 'Y' rail link.

Honeysuckle and Environs (Newcastle) Rejuvenating inner Newcastle; improving employment opportunities, public transport and housing choices.

Eveleigh Medium density housing and open spaces; development of an Advanced Technology Park to encourage employment in knowledge-based industries and scientific research.


Plenty Road Transport improvements — tram line extension to Mill Park; improved public housing; development of former institutional land; R&D commercialisation facility at La Trobe University.

Inner Melbourne and Rivers Higher density public and private housing; city circle tram service; flood mitigation works.

South West Development of Bio-Technology precinct at Werribee including the Australian Food Research Institute; upgrade Geelong-Werribee-Melbourne rail line; redevelopment of the Norlane Public Housing Estate (Geelong).

South East Rail infrastructure improvement, including redevelopment of Dandenong Railway Station; joint venture development of residential housing; promoting Dandenong as a regional employment and service centre.


Brisbane-Gold Coast Corridor Extension of railway from Beenleigh to Robina; higher density housing, including public housing, with access to improved transport interchanges.

Brisbane — Inner North Eastern Suburbs Conversion of former industrial sites for residential housing; higher density housing, including low cost housing and public housing; improvements to public transport; cycle path network and public footpaths.

Inala — Ipswich Institutional reform, including closure of Wacol Rehabilitation Centre and the Challinor Centre for persons with intellectual disabilities and rehousing residents; infrastructure improvements including flood mitigation works; construction and upgrade of public housing.

Mackay Urban Consolidation Project Provision of low cost housing and student accommodation; increased urban densities.

South Townsville Inner City Village High density housing adjacent to Townsville CBD; better traffic management; improvements to community services.

Western Australia

East Perth Infrastructure upgrades including water, sewerage, drainage, power and road works; affordable housing and promotion of an urban village concept. Experiment with environmentally responsible buses for public transport.

Stirling Infrastructure upgrades — sewerage system, road and rail links, Stirling bus-rail interchange.

Bunbury New public housing, tourist and recreational facilities; environmental and infrastructure works, including removal of oil storage facilities, waste water treatment system, and waterfront public open space areas.

Fremantle Infrastructure upgrades — sewerage, stormwater drainage and water recycling systems; higher density housing including affordable housing and housing for the elderly.

Perth Urban Innovative housing close to employment and transport.

South Australia

Elizabeth — Munno Para Infrastructure improvements - stormwater drainage, water storage and landscaping; affordable housing initiatives, innovative housing loans.

North West Sector Development of Northwest Crescent of Adelaide; road links and environmental improvements, Virginia pipeline to reuse treated sewage.

Southern Areas Improved infrastructure — sewerage disposal, roads and cycle paths; employment opportunities at Noarlunga.

Western Area Higher housing densities; improved community facilities; better traffic management, clean up of Patawalonga.


Launceston Inner City Increased housing densities; development of cultural, community and conservation sites, redevelopment of railyards and sheds.

Hobart Western Shore Improved urban environment and land use including decontamination of sites; institutional reform and conservation of historical sites.

Northern Territory

Darwin New deep water port for Darwin at East Arm Peninsula; environmental improvements.


North Canberra Waste water recycling plant scheme; an energy efficient rating system for new residences; higher density housing and institutional reform.

Source: ANAO 1996


NSW and Victoria provided only limited regional initiatives (Geelong and Newcastle were the focus), unlike Queensland and Western Australia, where regional projects were very important. Otherwise the spread of Area Strategies was impressive, and the scope for innovation and demonstration very sound.

The above summaries give no illustration of the complexity of individual area strategies. Appendix 1, showing the expenditure for Victorian Area Strategies illustrates better the nature of their content. The Victorian strategies were rather weak in that their component parts were scattered and management arrangements were too informal for our liking, but they were accepted for funding.

The Victorian Area Strategies also illustrate the contributions made by the State as well as the Commonwealth — a little over 50 cents for each Commonwealth dollar. This level of State/local contribution varied widely across the Area Strategies.

Appendix 2 provides a descriptive summary of one Victorian Area Strategy — the Plenty Corridor. The actual Strategy documentation was, in each case, between 10 and 15 pages long.