Insights

New report: East coast mega-region would boost national growth and improve liveability

Posted May 18, 2020

SGS Economics and Planning Terry Rawnsley

New report shows integrating economies across the eastern seaboard could strengthen Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and add hundreds of billions to national income by mid-century – but we need new policy levers to make it happen.

Creating a more co-ordinated economic corridor through Victoria, NSW and QLD, where labour and capital could move at low cost, would deliver extensive economic and social benefits to the Australian economy.

The east coast corridor is home to about 64 per cent of Australia’s population and accounts for almost 70 per cent of gross domestic product. Even a one per cent increase in output through improved planning and coordination between Australia's biggest cities would deliver a $268 billion lift to gross domestic product by 2050, said report author SGS National Leader for Economic & Social Analysis Terry Rawnsley.

Our settlement patterns have supported economic growth. However, we are reaching a tipping point where the effects of highly centralised growth mean those highly connected, well-serviced and accessible parts of our major cities are shrinking, and the costs of growth to our productivity are rising. A coordinated settlement strategy for the megaregion would help boost national productivity and innovative capacity; enabling us to better compete in international markets.

— Terry Rawnsley

More than economic benefits

The report Reimagining Australia's South-East prepared by SGS Economics and Planning for the Committee for Melbourne recommends better planning of land use, more integrated and efficient transportation networks and better-aligned laws and regulations along the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor. It also calls for more coordination of infrastructure development across the three cities.

Rather than just competing, our east coast cities need to integrate better and function more as a collective. This integration will help our growing population reap the benefits of a network of complementary economies.

— Terry Rawnsley

A more coordinated eastern seaboard would strengthen transport connections - channelling more investments through smaller regional cities - improve housing affordability, increase population dispersal to relieve city congestion, improve equity and enhance liveability in urban areas.

The Committee for Melbourne calls on the federal government and governments of Victoria, NSW and QLD to use the momentum from the partnership achieved at the national cabinet during the coronavirus crisis to push for greater coordination along the corridor and drive sustained economic recovery and prioritise investment in nation-building infrastructure.

The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to change the way we manage the road to recovery, across borders and across jurisdictions to the net benefit of all. For example, investment in projects of state and even national significance such as faster interstate rail links between cities, has the capacity to reshape Australia and drive economic activity into the future.

— Martine Letts, CEO, Committee for Melbourne

Building a megaregion: investments and initiatives

Development activity is happening in Victoria, NSW and QLD - but this activity is happening in isolation. Governments have the opportunity to create a blueprint for Australia’s East Coast Megaregion. Activities that could achieve a megaregion include:

  • Introducing an integrated and more efficient transportation network.
  • Sharing technology and data sharing.
  • Combining specific state government resources.
  • Combining tourism and investment attraction campaigns.
  • Aligning red tape.
  • Aligning skills and education systems.
  • Possibly creating new cities as links between the larger cities.

There’s a lot going on between Brisbane and Melbourne with all sorts of investments happening but we don’t have any clear plan on why we’re doing it and where we are trying to get to. At the moment, it’s more states than mates.

— Terry Rawnsley

Download the report

Reimaging Australias South East Report
SGS Economics Planning Terry Rawnsley
For further information contact:

Terry Rawnsley

National Leader for Economic & Social Analysis | Principal & Partner

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