The SEQ Liveability Fund is a joint initiative between the Australian Federal Government, the Queensland Government, and Council of Mayors (SEQ) Pty Ltd. It operates similarly to the Victorian Government’s partnership with Councils known as the Local Government Mayoral Advisory Panel (LGMAP). LGMAP consists of 13 Mayors from across Victoria who advise the Local Government Minister.
On March 21, 2022, the Federal Government, under Prime Minister Morrison, the Queensland Labor Government, and the Council of Mayors South East Queensland (SEQ), signed the SEQ City Deal. This deal demonstrates a shared commitment to transforming SEQ and delivering infrastructure that will shape the region.
Under the Morrison Federal Government, the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) was established. This council includes the National Cabinet, Council on Federal Financial Relations, and ALGA. The NFRC created Expert Advisory Groups, Taskforces, Partnership Agreements, and Reform Committees on various topics such as Rural & Regional, Skills, Energy, Housing, Transport & Infrastructure, Population & Migration, and Health. All these groups reported to the NFRC. PM Morrison announced that the National Cabinet had replaced COAG.
However, these developments in Queensland and Victoria indicate that both the LNP and Labor governments have made changes to the Commonwealth Constitution. Constitutional law expert, Professor Anne Twomey from the University of Sydney, believes that the National Cabinet is merely a committee of the Federal Cabinet and undermines the federal system. She argues that the intergovernmental body should not be subordinate to the Commonwealth Cabinet, as it is comprised of equal status premiers from each jurisdiction.
Another concern raised by Professor Twomey is the potential extension of confidentiality to documents created by advisory bodies like the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. This expansion of confidentiality raises questions about accountability and transparency.
The present Australia Federal Relations Architecture map describes the National Cabinet as the country’s premier interjurisdictional body, providing a collaborative forum for governments to work on national issues of significance.
In Victoria, Mayor Cr Les McPhee of Swan Hill Rural City Council reported that he and Council CEO Scott Barber joined other Mayors and CEOs from the Murray River Group of Councils for meetings with Ministers, Shadow Ministers, and senior advisors in Canberra. They advocated for support in various areas such as flood recovery efforts, infrastructure upgrades, renewable energy, recruitment and retention, housing shortages, rising costs of living, diversifying the economy, and the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
According to a news release from the state’s infrastructure advisory body on October 25, 2023, Victorians could be significantly better off by 2056 if the state increases urban housing density instead of dispersing growth throughout the state. The research presents different urban development scenarios, with the “compact city” being one option that involves high-density housing in central Melbourne. The Victorian Government aims to influence the shape of cities through collaboration with local governments and communities.
It is worth considering the implications of the “compact city” approach, as it could potentially lead to areas with high population density resembling ghettos. The target year for these changes is 2056.
Overall, these developments in Southeast Queensland and Victoria highlight the ongoing efforts of governments at various levels to collaborate and shape the future of their regions. The establishment of interjurisdictional bodies like the National Cabinet raises constitutional and governance concerns, while infrastructure plans and advocacy by local leaders aim to address various issues and promote sustainable development.