|CPDS Home Contact||Growth Management in SEQ||Realistic Public Administration is the Key|
This review of the draft SE Queensland Regional Plan considers: the origin of proposals for such a Plan; apparent difficulties in preparing it; a brief outline of the draft Plan and reactions to it; and reasons to suspect that the Plan might prove unsustainable.
Brief mention is also made of the SE Queensland Regional Infrastructure Plan and Program which complemented the Regional Plan.
It is concluded that the Regional Plan and the Infrastructure Plan are likely to provide a very useful framework and stimulus for a long-overdue public debate about the underlying problems (eg in Queensland's system of public administration) that are likely to make the Plans themselves unworkable.
In January 2004 an Office of Urban Management and Infrastructure Coordination (OUMIC) was established, responsible to the Queensland Treasurer, and in June 2004 it was announced that a plan would be produced to enforce the state's SEQ 2021 regional plan to preserve green space .
A draft Plan identifying areas to be preserved was to be defined by October 2004 after which owners would have two years to make development applications before changes would be enforced. Advantages of this directive planning system (which it was suggested should be implemented without compensation) were described  as:
The establishment of OUMIC and the development of a regional plan followed a long period of public criticism of land use management and infrastructure development in SE Queensland - which the present author has considered in Growth Management in SE Queensland.
Difficulties in Preparing a Regional Plan
The latter document suggested that OUMIC faced the same difficulties as any 'central planner'. In particular any land-use 'blueprint' it produced could not involve a positive planning process (ie determining what anyone in the public or private sector would actually do) but could merely add to restrictions.
Despite this it appears that the Minister responsible (and 'planners') believed that the 'blueprint' could set a positive land development and infrastructure agenda that would be imposed 'autocratically' . The 'development lobby' appeared to believe that the 'blueprint' would define a large new infrastructure package for the region .
Whoever put forward the 'blueprint' proposal does not seem to have been very
familiar with the realities of public administration or of Queensland's public
Growth Management in SE Queensland and
Defects in Machinery for Planning and
Development of Infrastructure).
Serious concerns about the planning arrangement were expressed by local authorities (and others) as it emerged  that:
The responsible Minister accepted that conflict with councils would emerge as the land use and infrastructure requirements of the plan were imposed .
The Draft Regional Plan
The Plan was seen by the state government as being as important as its Smart State strategy .
There were various positive reactions to this Plan. For example:
However others expressed concerns about aspects such as:
In relation to criticism of the Plan, the state government argued that:
Is the Regional Plan Sustainable?
From the present author's viewpoint its appears that the Regional Plan is idealistic and well-intended but at risk of proving unsustainable economically, administratively, practically, politically and financially.
Economically the Plan will be difficult to implement as it envisages concentrating growth in Brisbane's western corridor which is not where people seem to want to live in SE Queensland. Historically growth has occurred along the coastal zone.
SE Queensland's growth is primarily a 'sun-state' phenomenon associated both with attractive climate and with lower (eg housing) costs. From the author's experience there is a major difference in livability between the coastal zone and the (much hotter-in-summer and colder-in winter ) western corridor where future growth is expected to concentrate.
If growth of traditionally-preferred low-density housing is not encouraged where people want to live then (a) political pressure for a change in the Plan will grow - and be very hard to resist as there will be clear evidence of public demand for coastal land or (b) population growth through interstate migration will decline significantly.
Given the dependence that SE Queensland's economic structure and Queensland's public finance have developed on rapid population growth, any decline in migration would have significant implications. Such a slowdown would, for example:
A further economic concern about the Plan is that it envisages that Queensland's Smart State agenda is to be the foundation for economic development in the region. Unfortunately that strategy lacks economic horse-power (eg it focuses on increasing 'smart' inputs to the economy (eg research and education) while doing nothing really serious to overcome Queensland's chronic inability to use such inputs productively - see A Commentary on Smart State). And, as funding the required infrastructure with Queensland's relatively weak tax base could well prove difficult (see below), the development of a significantly more productive economy / stronger tax base may be critically important.
Administratively the Plan will be difficult to implement.
It seemed to have been decided at one stage that state agencies' policies and programs would not be bound by the Plan , but the draft Regional Plan itself included a view that they would be bound and that:
The problem is that Queensland Treasury's existing processes which seek to link agency strategic planning with budgeting seem idealistic rather than practical - see Evaluation of Managing for Outcomes - and, in the author's opinion, this style of approach (which amongst other things includes a process for central strategic planning) is one source of the numerous dysfunctions which currently afflict public administration in Queensland. For example, it seems to have been centralization of planning that largely led to the Failure in Queensland's Electricity Distribution Network - as Energex was required to rigidly comply with directives formulated by people who were focused on financial goals and did not understand the need for network maintenance.
The likely consequence of Treasury / OUMIC (with a consultative committee) trying to define a SEQ Infrastructure Plan and Program must frequently be a perceived gap between (idealized) 'central plans' and pragmatic requirements. Prospective operational plans can only realistically be developed by those with operational skill and knowledge. It is impossible for 'central planners' to acquire the detailed technical information required to unilaterally get get the 'right' answers - and this is why 'central planning' (eg of an economy) is in bad odour generally (see discussion of why An Office of Urban Management and Infrastructure Coordination could Work - but Probably Won't and why Focusing on projects is a bad way of developing infrastructure or the public sector).
The net effect of this attempt at central planning for SE Queensland is likely to be a substantial worsening of the 'constipation' of Queensland's system of public administration which led the present author to suggest that Realistic Public Administration is the Key.
In addition to infrastructure, the regional growth management strategy outlines many very ambitious / idealistic outcomes and principles / strategies for achieving these (eg affordable housing, a diverse economy). These are expressed in simplistic terms and in practice those matters are the responsibility of other agencies (who presumably wrote most of the 'words' quoted in the Plan). Quite apart from the feasibility of achieving the nominated goals (eg safe / healthy communities) the agencies responsible will not be able to be constructively influenced in an ongoing basis by the Plan (because it is the specialist agencies that have all the relevant information).
In the author's experience (if those with professional competencies are allowed to express an opinion) the role of those who attempt 'central planning' tends to be steadily downgraded and eventually terminated because:
Furthermore, unlike situations such as Energex, the Regional Plan deals with many functions where (despite the coercive pressures [1, 2, 3, 4] that often seem to be applied) those with specialized competence may not be able to be prevented from effectively expressing an opinion.
In particular other levels of government cannot be constrained from preempting the Plan (eg the Federal Government with its Auslink proposals; and the Brisbane City Council with tunnel proposals).
Practically it may prove that what has been proposed is difficult to implement because of competing / conflicting requirements - which is an unavoidable hazard with any 'central plan'.
Politically the Plan may tend to be eroded by pressure from those (a) adversely affected or (b) not adequately consulted in preparing the Plan - see above. An apparent failure to guard against the possibility of moral hazard in preparing the Plan provides an obvious focus for such pressure.
One observer suggested that little is likely to happen unless the Treasurer forces the plan through . Various local political leaders expressed frustration with what they saw as the state governments tendency to back down when opposition is encountered to any plan proposals .
Financially the Plan is at risk (despite the Treasurer's reported optimism ) because it is simply impossible to guarantee that the large capital investments required can be publicly financed (see Growing Pressure for Increased State Taxation). The latter referred to: the rapid growth in Queensland's spending without corresponding state tax increases; numerous funding 'black holes' (ie unmet needs); escalating wage costs due to skills shortages; expectations of reduced taxes; apparent 'creative' capital accounting and dubious stripping of GOC assets and revenues; dependence of revenues on a transitory economic boom; Queensland's limited scope to increase its revenue from state taxes (or to borrow much for infrastructure on the basis of state taxes without significantly increasing them); and the uncertain prospects of increasing / maintaining federal funding.
While some have seen involvement of the federal government as the solution of the financing problem  it needs to be recognized that (a) a significant cause of the lack of effectiveness of state administrations is the planning / management distortions that arise from reliance on insecure federal funding and (b) the involvement of multiple jurisdictions makes efforts to develop infrastructure very complex and potentially dispute-ridden (as demonstrated by problems in health and education).
Others can be expected to seek solutions to infrastructure funding in:
Ultimately it may be that a complete overhaul of Australia's system of federal financial relationships (eg to better match financial capacity and spending responsibilities) as well as politically painful re-ordering of spending priorities may be required to meet community infrastructure expectations.
|Infrastructure Plan||Regional Infrastructure Plan and
A South East Queensland Regional Infrastructure Plan and Program 2005-26 (of which an outline appears in Attachment B) was released in April 2005 as a complement to the Regional Plan.
Public reactions to the Infrastructure Plan suggested that:
From the present author's viewpoint it appears that the Infrastructure Plan is a modest and internally coherent proposal which proposes attention to many necessary infrastructure issues. Moreover:
Unfortunately, at the same time, the Infrastructure Plan contains apparently fatal defects. In particular:
It has been reasonably argued that the main contribution of the draft SE Queensland Regional Plan is that it allows long overdue debate about fundamental issues of managing growth  and future transport systems  in the region. The same will undoubtedly apply to the Infrastructure Plan.
The Plans' role as a focus for debate will be doubly valuable as the reasons that the Plans are unlikely to be sustainable (which have more to do with dysfunctions in public administration than they do with land-use and infrastructure details) should now finally start to be publicly considered.
November 2004, and modified May 2005
|Outline Regional Plan||
Foreword: The region has an affinity with outdoor recreation, and is rapidly gaining population. The assets that make the region attractive need to be protected while growth occurs. The Plan will have statutory effect. It has been prepared in consultation with many others, and feedback is solicited
Context: SEQ is growing rapidly. The Plan will guide growth to 2026. It is based on current forecasts - but will be reviewed regularly. It is the preeminent plan for the region - and represents an agreed state government position. The Plan's main intent is sustainability
Legislation: The Plan is prepared under the IPA 1997 (as amended). It is a statutory instrument, It is currently a draft, but provisions exist for Draft Regulatory provisions that come into effect immediately.
SEQ Region: encompasses 18 LGAs
B. REGIONAL ISSUES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Growth: Growth is rapid. Recent debate has focused on loss of open space. Sustainable use of resources also is significant - especially for water. Power capacity is available, but distribution networks are stretched.
Development trends: Most growth has been on the coast. Urban densities are low. Rural lands have been fragmenting. Given these trends most future growth will be of low density. Infill development can provide 20-30% of future demand.
A different future: Alternatives considered include: focus on western corridor growth; and urban consolidation. Advantages are seen in higher densities and also in reducing pressure on coast.
A new approach: This would be based on managing rather than responding to growth - and leading growth by timely provision of infrastructure and assisting job creation. Strengths of the basic approach were seen to include: protection of landscape and rural production; defining future urban growth; statutory regulation to prevent unplanned development; recognition as the pre-eminent plan for the region; support for SEQ Infrastructure Plan and Program; and linkage between Regional Plan and state agencies infrastructure and service delivery programs and budgets.
C. REGIONAL VISION:
Identifies long term aspirations (eg safe communities; diverse employment opportunities; sustainability; environmental protection).
D. URBAN STRUCTURE
Strategic directions: These include: supporting regional landscapes; accommodating future growth; enhancing community identity; more compact urban areas; western corridor growth; integrating land use and transport.
Settlement Pattern: All areas are allocated to one of 5 categories: Regional Landscape and Rural Production: Urban Footprint; Investigation Areas; Rural Living Areas
E. REGIONAL GROWTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Natural environment, resources, rural: Ecological sustainability principles apply. Desired regional outcomes (healthy and diverse landscape) will be achieved by principles and strategies for: (a) Diverse landscape (b) Nature conservation (c) Protecting coasts / waterways (d) Maintaining air quality (e) Managing natural resources (f) Supporting rural production (g) Protecting scenic amenity (h) Outdoor recreation and tourism (i) Regional integration. Specific arrangements and plans are envisaged for (a) Regional Landscape and Rural Production Areas; (b) Nature Conservation; (c) Rural Production and Natural Resources; (d) Publicly accessible open space; (e) Environmental and natural resource programs;
Urban form: Desired outcome (compact urban pattern) will be achieved by principles and strategies related to (a) Urban pattern (b) Urban growth management (c) Regional activity centre network (d) Rural centres (e) Integrated planning of development areas (f) Housing mix and affordability. Specific proposals exist for (a) urban structure; (b) population capacity; (c) efficient land use; (d) Activity centres (of various types); (e) transit oriented developments; (f) local growth management strategies; (g) greenfield development; (h) rural residential development; (i) inter-regional impacts; (j) principles for sub-tropical environment;
Strong communities: Desired outcome (cohesive, inclusive and healthy communities with sense of identity) will be achieved by principles and strategies related to (a) Sense of place and identity (b) Cultural heritage and development (c) Safe and healthy communities (d) Affordable housing (e) Access to services (f) Addressing disadvantage (g) Support for rural communities (h) Social planning
A diverse economy: Desired outcome is a strong, resilient and diversified economy with growing prosperity, competitive advantages. SEQ is state's economic engine - and is mainly service oriented. Regional economic development initiatives are underpinned Smart State Strategy which promotes use of knowledge, creativity, innovation. Principles and strategies address (a) Diverse knowledge-based economy; (b) Land and infrastructure for economic development (c) Raising productivity (d) Accessible employment (e) Development of skill, science and technology (f) Economic activity (including a specific Western Corridor Economic Development Strategy)
Integrated Transport: Desired outcome (a connected and accessible region - with integrated transport system) will be achieved by principles and strategies related to (a) Integration (b) Connecting people place and activities (c) Sustainable travel and equitable access (d) Effective investment (e) Efficient transport. Specific arrangements are defined in relation to: (a) public transport (b) national, state and inter-regional linkages (c) transport infrastructure to support the Plan (d) Sunshine / Gold Coast (e) Greater Brisbane and western corridor (f) freight
Infrastructure and services: Desired outcome (planned, coordinated and timely infrastructure / services) will be achieved by principles and strategies related to (a) Leading regional growth (b) Coordination (c) Managing demand (d) Infrastructure funding (e) Protecting key site and corridors (f) Water supply / Water cycle / Water management (g) Energy (h) Telecommunications (h) Community infrastructure and services. A SEQ Infrastructure Plan and Program will be released in mid 2005. Specific proposals exist for (a) water (b) wastewater (c) energy (d) telecommunications (e) solid waste (f) social and community infrastructure
Engaging ATSI People: Desired outcome (ATSI peoples are involved, and traditional owners are engaged in business about their country) will be achieved by principles and strategies related to (a) Traditional owner engagement (b) Forming partnerships (c) Protecting culture and heritage (d) Social and economic equity
F. IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING
Implementation: Plan is both statutory and strategic. Implementation will require cooperation with community and coordination of state and local government plans. Key elements of the statutory process include: oversight by RCC; amending LGA plans for consistency; consideration of plan by state / local agencies in developing plans and policies; development assessment; effective regulatory provisions; and call-in power of Regional Planning minister. Planning for implementation of strategies in Part E will focus on state and local government agencies. The SEQ Infrastructure Plan and Program will be updated annually by Treasury / OUM - with a consultative Regional Infrastructure Services Coordination Group to provide a whole-of-government approach.
Monitoring: will be an important part of the process, involving benchmarking, measuring, improved data etc
G. Draft Regulatory Provisions
|Outline Infrastructure Plan||
Attachment B: Outline of South East Queensland Regional Infrastructure Plan and Program 2005-26 (SEQRIPP)
Context: SEQ is growing rapidly. SEQ Regional Plan was developed to manage this. SEQRIPP outlines priorities to support Plan, based on the view that strategic infrastructure placement can lead development. It will give direction for next 20 years. Aspects of the State Infrastructure Plan are outside SEQRIPP's scope. Priorities for the region include: more compact urban form; western corridor development; sub-regional self containment. The SEQRIPP will allow: coordination with budget / agency planning; and effective planning. An Infrastructure and Services Coordination Group has been established. A regular annual process has been established to manage the plan. Funding options will be evaluated through Value for Money Framework - which allows for partnerships between public and private sectors. The federal government also has some funding role (Auslink, Australian Water Fund). Government will fund infrastructure through cash flows and borrowing. In the past cash flows have usually been relied upon - but higher levels of borrowing and private sector involvement will be needed to fund this plan. State budget will provide details of infrastructure spending and levels of borrowing, Plan involves commitment of additional $25.7m over next 20 years - including an increase of $2bn over next 4 years. Arrangements for developer contributions will be made through State Infrastructure Agreements which will be based on integrated land use plan for area. Infrastructure Plan will be updated annually.
Regional Infrastructure Priorities and Projects: Population increases will require infrastructure investment. The Plan is in three phases - with the first to 2009.
Transport is a major focus of plan - and will feature greater emphasis on public transport. Cooperative planning and investment processes are already in place between Main Roads and local government. BCC has a significant role and is considering TransApex tunnel proposals. SEQ Regional Plan emphasizes developing strategic corridors for future transport. Auslink is a new process whereby federal government invests in nationally significant land transport infrastructure - and is interested in many transport corridors in the region. Transport priorities are: supporting preferred urban development pattern; increased public transport; supporting economic activities. [Transport proposals are discussed for Western corridor; Greater Brisbane; Gold Coast; Sunshine Coast; and Freight]
Water planning will deal with integrated approach to water management cycle. Existing infrastructure meets existing demands, but must be extended to cope with growth. SEQ Councils will participate in water and sewage services. A Regional Water Supply Strategy is being prepared. Priorities for water include: increasing supply; diversifying sources; efficiency; policy framework / subsidies; review of institutional arrangements. Significant reductions in consumption of potable water are intended. Additional pipelines will be needed. Recycling arrangements will be developed. Suppliers will come from alternative sources (eg rainwater tanks). Better management to ensure water quality is needed. Governance arrangements for water supply in SEQ are being reviewed.
Energy will be supplied through a diversity of sources, while demand management will also be required. Increased electricity demand has been a major challenge. Considerable increases have occurred in generation capacity, while distribution network has faced challenges. There will be heavy investment in network. Gas is an important energy sources, and Queensland Energy Policy has been successful in diversifying energy mix towards greater use of gas.
Information and Communication technology is very important - but mainly a federal government responsibility. [A number of strategic initiatives are suggested].
Social and Community Infrastructure will have key goals including: affordable housing; efficiency / coordination; accessibility; focus on areas of greatest need - especially on urban fringes; and co-location. [Proposals are discussed for health; education; support for rural development; renewal of activity centers and development of transit centers].
Investigations of Potential Infrastructure Investments: The Infrastructure Plan is the first of an intended annual series. Future developments being investigated include: Ipswich Motorway alternative northern corridor; Southern Infrastructure Corridor; Western Brisbane Transport investigation; Gateway extension south of Brown's Plains; Sailsbury to Flagstone / Greenbank rail; TransApex investigations; inner city rail capacity; Sunshine Coast transport options