In Australia, there is an opportunity to use City Deals to incentivise collaboration across local government and also with the states and territories to maximise the economic potential of our cities. This would also ensure City Deals were adding growth to an area, not simply shifting it from somewhere else.
There is no doubt that governments have it within their power to make real improvements to urban Australia -- changes that will not only boost their economic productivity but also enhance the quality of life of millions of Australians. All it requires is the political will to work together.
Australia's key economic challenge today is the need to diversify economic activity to make up for the decline in mining caused by the shift in the resources cycle from construction to production. Improved freight rail must be a central part of the solution.
Where in previous decades many Australians lived near where they worked, their communities are being transformed into drive-in, drive-out suburbs where they sleep between working and commuting but have little time for anything else. Millions of Australians are literally watching their quality of life disappear like the white lines in their rear-vision mirrors.
Unless we take steps now to reduce traffic congestion by investing in roads and urban rail, the problem will assume such monstrous proportions that it will act as a handbrake on national economic productivity.
If that is not core business for the Commonwealth, I don't know what is.