What should be the Queensland Government's highest priority?

COVID-19 and successive recent natural disasters present a rare insight into both the strengths and fragilities of our institutions, communities and economies.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 Edition of the Urban Development Institute of Australia's Establish Magazine.

There is cause for both hope and fear. We face uncertain times for an uncertain amount of time. In my view, the Queensland Government should leverage this time of change by engaging with the community and business in the pursuit of 21st-century resilience—to create a low carbon, healthy and efficient society.

But what does a 21st century resilient society look like and how does it function? 

What 20th-century practices will need to give way to new systems to achieve this vision? And how do we make this vision tangible in the near term, guiding current economic and employment stimulus priorities?

The Queensland Government’s commitment to target net-zero emissions by 2050 is a great place to start this conversation. But 2050 feels too far away. This focus could be brought forward through the Queensland Government’s 2032 Olympic bid, by pivoting the bid to integrate a 2050 vision of net-zero emissions to underpin the theme of the games.

To support this vision, the current pause in the progression of the SEQ City Deal should be used to review and refine proposed projects and initiatives to embody and deliver as much of the 2050 vision as possible by 2032.

This would include progressing regional City Deals in parallel, aligning actions across three levels of government. Focus on finding synergies between clusters of policies and projects so the pursuit of one supports the achievement of others. Find ways to do more with less.

A key opportunity is to adopt an integrated SEQ Active Transport Network as a signature element of the City Deal, embracing the rise of electric personal transport. Explore the viability of battery-powered ‘Trackless Trams’ as a core of an increasingly electric trunk public transport network.

Building on the shift towards telecommuting, facilitate demand management to make better use of existing infrastructure. Help fund sustainable transport projects through (modest) congestion pricing or parking levies—linking policies with pricing signals.

Investing in emerging industries fundamental to achieving the 2050 vision is also essential. For example, an immediate focus on expanding renewable energy production and battery storage and incentivising energy efficiency measures and retrofits across housing and industry, would create sustainable employment and investment, while stabilising long-term energy costs and emissions.

Further, the Queensland Government should provide Economic Development Queensland with a fresh mandate to innovate, with a legislated focus to demonstrate models of ‘affordable living’ — communities where the sharing economy is fostered and transport, energy and utility costs are minimised.

A diversity of emerging housing and tenure models should be explored for both private and public housing, including build-to-rent, co-housing, nightingale, shared equity housing, and 'missing middle'.

Work with the private sector, superannuation funds and local governments to help implement the emerging models.

COVID-19 has shone a light on what is essential, and demonstrated that collective action is possible. 

"Beyond ‘shovel ready’, we must invest in projects, policies and practices necessary for a resilient future, attracting sustainable investment and employment in sectors that will prosper in the lead up to 2050. The adage of ‘never waste a crisis’ has never been more relevant."

Cameron Hoffmann

Technical Director - Planning


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