Squandering riches: can Perth realise the value of its biodiversity?

Perth is not known as a model for suburbia and its suburban condition is similar to that of developed cities the world over. However, it does stand out in one respect: it sits in an exceptionally biodiverse natural setting. A strong, informed vision for this setting’s relationship with the city could help Perth become an exemplar for similarly positioned metropolises everywhere.

The greater Perth region has been designated the Southwest Australia Ecoregion (SWAE). This is one of only 35 “biodiversity hotspots” in the world.

Reconciling future growth with biodiversity is a key issue for urban design and planning this century. Indeed, if current trends continue, global urban land cover will increase by 1.2 million square kilometres (equivalent to half the area of Western Australia) by 2030. Much of this will happen in biodiversity hotspots.

This is important because it is estimated we will lose nearly half of all terrestrial species if we fail to protect the hotspots. We will also lose the ecosystem services upon which human populations ultimately depend.

Perth has a reputedly strong planning system and is comparatively wealthy. If it can’t control its city form to protect biodiversity – compact cities generally being recognised as the best model for protecting land for conservation – then city administrators elsewhere, particularly in the developing world, are likely to struggle.

Perth’s Green Growth Plan

The release of the state government’s long-anticipated Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million may herald a shift in the relationship between the city and the biodiversity hotspot. The plan encapsulates two broad goals:

  • to protect fringe bushland, rivers, wetlands and wildlife in an impressive 170,000 hectares of new and expanded reserves on Perth’s fringe
  • to cut red tape by securing upfront Commonwealth environmental approvals for outer suburban development.

While ostensibly positive achievements, a question remains as to the implications of clearing a further 45,000ha (3% of the Swan Coastal Plain) of remnant bushland which is not protected by the conservation reserves.

Furthermore, the typically disconnected conservation reserves proposed in the Green Growth Plan lack overall legibility. This stymies the public’s ability to conceptualise the city’s edge, which leads them to care about it (like London’s greenbelt, for instance).

Finally, a question remains about how a plan that places restrictions on outer suburban development will accommodate the powerful local land development industry over time. This is a concern given the frequent “urban break-outs” – where urban development occurs outside nominated growth areas – between 1970 and 2005.

In 2003, the ABC asked revered Western Australian landscape architect Marion Blackwell, “Are we at home now in the land we live in?” She replied, “No, we’re not. We don’t know enough about it, and not enough people know anything about it.”

We still have work to do on our engagement with biodiversity in Western Australia, and Perth specifically, before we can become a model for future cities.

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Regional Business Showcase – Panel Discussion

The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference will be held in Canberra on 5-6 September 2016. The conference theme Regional Australia – Planning, Participation and Progress will explore opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future.

On Day 2 the conference will host a Regional Businesses Showcase Panel Discussion featuring the following panellists:

Ms Jane Homberger, Director, Skin Smart Australia.

The team of Dermatoscopists have been hand selected across a range of locations Australia-wide to deliver the highest quality of skin cancer assessment. Skin Smart use the latest in Dermatoscopy techniques to assess for skin cancer. They offer molemap consultations at our clinic. By utilising this technology any suspicious lesions can be effectively monitored for microscopic changes. With a strict focus on professional development and the latest industry best practice in this evolving area, you can be confident our team has the best available skills and knowledge on skin cancer detection, education and prevention.

Mr Tony Kalleske, Director, Kalleske Wines.

In South Australia’s Barossa Valley, the Kalleske family have been farming and growing grapes since 1853 near the village of Greenock. They are one of the region’s leading grape growing families consistently growing some of the Barossa’s best quality grapes. After six generations of growing grapes, winemaker and seventh generation family member, Troy Kalleske, together with his brother Tony, established the Kalleske winery and made the first ‘Kalleske’ wine. The winery is situated on the family estate where traditional winemaking techniques ensure the vineyard realises its full potential as wine. The vineyard is managed by Troy’s and Tony’s parents, John and Lorraine, and brother, Kym. John has over forty years’ experience tending the vineyard. The 120 acre vineyard is planted to Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Mataro, Petit Verdot, Durif, Viognier, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. Vines vary in age with the oldest remaining vineyard dating back to 1875 and an overall average vine age of about 50 years. The vineyard is low yielding with grapes grown organically and bio dynamically and the winery is also certified biodynamic/organic. The Kalleske family are active practitioners of sustainable farming. They are caretakers of the land and not only want to maintain the environment but improve it for future generations.

Ms Dianna Somerville, Director, RTGC Group.

With a background in contracts, defence management and operation services Dianna began to notice there was a huge gap in people’s abilities to put documentation together. Especially in regional areas, where people had incredible abilities in their roles, but found applying for tenders, grants and contracts confusing and overwhelming. That’s how she started Regional Grants, Tenders and Corporate Services. Bored of working from her farm’s remote home office she became the first client of Working Spaces HQ, a coworking space opened and run by a local entrepreneur Simone Eyles. Working in the coshared space has opened Dianna’s eyes to how innovative people in Wagga are. Her passion has made her determined to make the area a regional hub that fosters the growth of local entrepreneurs who will build solutions to regional, national and global problems. She wants to show the young people in her town and surrounding areas that they do not have to leave their homes to be part of the start-up scene. Dianna says the roll out of the NBN has helped to make it easier, and slowly people are beginning to recognise they can grow their businesses from a regional area.

Join the discussion and take part in the 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference this September, for more information and to register visit the conference website www.regionaldevelopment.org.au

Addressing the key issues in regional Australia

Regional Development Australia FundInfrastructure, unemployment, a changing workforce, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation, health, education, social services, climate change, natural resource management and agriculture are some of the key issues to be addresses in regional Australia.

While not everyone living in rural and regional Australia will see eye-to-eye on how best regional issues swill be resolved, in the lead up to the Federal election how many of these issues will make their way onto the national political agenda?

Government investments in transport, energy, telecommunications and water infrastructure are fundamental to the productivity of rural and regional industries as discussed by The Conversation.

Made well, these investments can enhance economic and social participation, minimise negative environmental impacts, and support adaptation to climate variability and change.

It follows that, when it comes to evaluating the case for public investment, one eye needs to be on the business case while the other needs to be on the potential for social and environmental co-benefits. This is where most of the issues listed below come into play.

Nationally, unemployment rates in non-metropolitan Australia are similar to those in the capital cities. However, rural and regional labour markets are volatile, with extremely high unemployment in particular locales. Place-specific strategies to assist these locales deserve consideration.

The loss of over 55,000 mining jobs nationally since late 2012 hit a number of regional cities hard. In Mackay, unemployment rose from 11.7% to 18.9% in 2015. In Muswellbrook, it went from 9.8% to 14.9%. The sector is expected to shed another 31,900 jobs by late 2020.

Nowhere in the country, though, are unemployment levels higher than in predominantly Indigenous townships like Aurukun, Palm Island and Yarrabah. Unemployment today in these former forced relocation sites hovers above 50%. That’s nearly three times the already high national unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Changing workforce profiles mean that growth in the value of traditional rural and regional industries won’t necessarily solve the problem of unemployment.

Agricultural produce recorded an increase in value between 2010-11 and 2014-15 of about 13%, or A$6 billion. Over roughly the same period, though, agriculture, forestry and fisheries shed nearly 40,000 jobs. Another 9,400 jobs are expected to go by late 2020. Innovation is driving improvements across many aspects of primary production, including labour productivity. To read more at The Conversation click here.

The 3rd Australian Regional Development Conference; Participation and Progress will be held in Canberra on 5 – 6 September 2016 to register for the conference CLICK HERE.

The conference explores opportunities for innovation in regional Australia. With its rich resources, diversity, and value, regional Australia is the catalyst for the future.

Addressing issues such as sustainable development, environmental sustainability, land use, community development, investment, agribusiness and innovation it is an opportunity not to be missed.

There is still a last minute opportunity to speak at the Conference.  If you would like to speak at the Conference you are invited to submit a 300 word abstract speaking within regional development on attracting business success, employment, infrastructure, health aged care and more. CLICK HERE to submit an abstract. Abstracts close on 13th June.

Infrastructure development lagging behind population growth is a threat to Australia’s economic future

infrastructure australiaThe main threat to Australia’s economic future is population growth outpacing infrastructure development, says Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell.

Australia will not be able to capitalise on the economic benefits of population growth without long-term infrastructure planning, he told the Committee for Economic

Development of Australia (CEDA) at an event in Sydney.

“Considered and well thought through infrastructure investment is going to be one of the most effective ways for us to achieve and deliver the qualities we want out of our economic growth,” he added.

Not acting would prove particularly costly given the increased infrastructure demands associated with population growth.

By 2031 the Australian population is expected to increase to over 30 million people from its current figure of 23.5 million, while congestion will come to cost $53.3 billion nationally and demand for public transport will double.

With Australian population growth outpacing that of the US, UK and Canada, the challenge is particularly great though it also provides much opportunity for economic growth in parallel, Birrell said.

“I think the population challenge we face is a good one and there’d be many nations from Japan through to France who’d like to have a population growth issue”. To read more at the International Business Times click here.

Rocky to become home to a $140m new urban university village

The Morning Bulletin

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

Hundreds of jobs and development opportunities in the Rockhampton area are on the horizon with the announcement today the Palaszczuk Government is seeking a development partner to transform the Central Queensland University (CSU) campus into a $140 million vibrant urban village.

The Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad announced the opening of Expressions of Interest today.

“The project will transform 80 hectares of the university campus into a mix of residential, retail, community and recreational areas and generate up to 470 jobs,” Ms Trad said.

“The development will not only enhance the role of CQU as an education destination but will provide the broader Rockhampton community with a diverse range of housing options including affordable housing and new retail and recreational amenities.

“With more than 2,000 dwellings expected to be delivered as part of the venture to transform the Priority Development Area into a vibrant urban community which integrates the university with residential, educational, retail and community facilities, this area will become part of the Rockhampton landscape.

“This next phase of the project follows the announcement of $7.65 million in funding from the Priority Development Infrastructure Co-investment Program for the provision of an intersection at the Bruce Highway and the new Main Street within stage 1 of the proposed new development.

“This is a great example of where catalyst infrastructure can help the next stage of a development get off the ground.

“This development will activate a large parcel of development-ready land in Rockhampton ripe for growth, with social benefits for the community and retail precincts.”

CQU Rockhampton was declared a Priority Development Area in 2011 and since that time Economic Development Queensland has been working closely with the university and Rockhampton Regional Council on potential development opportunities.

Read more.