Australia appoints Minister for Cities and the Built Environment to industry applause
Melbourne’s CBD at risk of dark streets and lack of open space

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) are the latest industry body to join the welcoming party for the newly appointed Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs.

Announcing Briggs’ appointment as part of the cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull observed that historically, the federal government has had a limited engagement with cities in spite of the fact that most Australians live in cities and the bulk of the nation’s economic growth is based in urban areas.

He believes that Australia faces a number of key challenges in its towns and cities from climate change, population growth and an ageing demographic, to an increasing demand for infrastructure, housing affordability pressures and traffic congestion.Turnbull explains that it is therfore imperative for the country’s cities to have the right strategies, policies and processes in place to create a built environment that can sustain Australians well into the future.

AIA CEO David Parken noted that a federal champion was crucial for driving reforms that better connect built environment policies and programs across all levels of government. With the appointment of the new Minister, the federal government can now play a key role in ensuring Australia’s built environment will function as well as it can, he explains.

According to the AIA, key priorities for the new department should include:

  • strategic planning for the built environment to promote globally competitive, sustainable and socially inclusive urban centres and towns;
  • increasing density through design to capitalise on the role of good design to accommodate urban growth; championing world-class urban design and architecture to help solve urban growth challenges and enhance international design reputation;
  • adoption of an urban design policy; and the appointment of a federal government architect to further promote high quality buildings and public spaces, and provide expert, high level strategic advice.

The AIA says they will seek a meeting with the Minister to ensure that the profession is represented in policy development.