August 2020 Newsletter
August 2020 Newsletter
Has Brisbane got the smarts?
Smart City agendas and projects have been progressing around the globe for years. Where does Brisbane stand and what might we do to become an integrated Smart City (or region)?
One definition of a Smart City is: a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.
Brisbane City Council and its neighbouring councils already do some of these things, but how can the greater Brisbane region become a Smart City exemplar?
This is a question the Committee for Brisbane has been considering as part of its Connected Brisbane agenda.
We thought the best place to find the answers was to ask our members and were inundated with expressions of interest to form a Smart City and Suburbs Taskforce.
More than 30 members stepped forward, including some individuals and companies with enormous experience of Smart City policies and projects across Australia and around the world.
The Taskforce will hold its initial planning workshop on Thursday 3 September to settle on a Purpose and Vision to direct the project. Then the work in earnest will commence.
Smart City and Suburbs Taskforce members are:
• Adam Beck, Executive Director, Smart Cities Council, Australia New Zealand
• Adriaan Window, ANZ Sustainability Practice Leader, AECOM
• Anthony Simmons, Director, Systemwide Planning and Policy, Caltrain
• Ben Lacey, Senior Manager, Emerging Corporate Bank, ANZ
• Brock Mahoney, Managing Director, Accenture
• Cara Westerman, Consulting Leader Queensland, Arup
• Christian Skou, Director, csa architects
• Damien Condon, Director, Lucid Media
• David Whitting, Partner, White and Partners
• Greg Power, Smart Cities Development Manager, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand
• Greg Pringle, Chief Operating Officer, University of Queensland
• Helen Clarke, Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
• Ian Reynolds, President, Brisbane West Chamber of Commerce
• Jake Grant, Special Counsel, McCullough Robertson Lawyers
• Jamye Harrison, Global Solutions Lead – Smart Cities, Arcadis
• Jason Cooper, Director – Programme Management Office, Transport – Asia Pacific, Engineering, Design and Project Management, SNC Lavalin Atkins
• Jason Grandin, Global Data Analytics Lead, Arcadis
• Jason Law, National General Manager, Local Government and Smart Cities, Telstra Enterprise and Government
• Laura Bos, Director, She’s the Bos
• Luke Abercrombie, Head of Technology, Queensland, Transurban
• Matt Adams, Head of External Affairs, Queensland, The Star Entertainment Group
• Melissa Ross, Australian Service Line Leader for Urban Planning and Land Development, GHD
• Michael Webb, Director, Urbis
• Mike Foster, Manager of Strategic Engagement, Seqwater
• Nadine Zrinzo, Co-founder, Bright Humans
• Natasha Chee, Design Assurance Manager, Queens Wharf Brisbane, Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation
• Rebecca Pini, Managing and Creative Director, made4media
• Sam Forbes, CEO, 6YS
• Simon White, Chief Executive Officer – Queensland, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce
• Tony Carmichael, Director, Environment and Planning, Aurecon
• Wilma James, Owner, Profitable Innovation
• Yann Charavel, Director, Infrastructure Strategy, PwC Services
Deal or no deal?
In mid-July, the Committee for Brisbane expressed its disappointment at a decision by the three levels of government to postpone the long-awaited SEQ City Deal – scheduled for release in mid-2020 – until some time in 2021.
In a joint media statement with Committee for Brisbane Affiliate, Property Council of Australia, we described the delay as a cruel blow to one of Australia’s fastest growing regions.
For more than two years, the Federal and Queensland Governments and the Council of Mayors (South East Queensland) had been negotiating, with the support of industry, to deliver a package of infrastructure investment that recognised and planned for the region’s growth.
The significant impact of COVID-19 on the State’s economy should have provided added impetus to a City Deal, now.
In an announcement that was the complete opposite, the governments said they would “extend the negotiation of the SEQ City Deal into 2021 while we focus on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Our view was that a SEQ City Deal should be the centrepiece of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to postpone all the hard work done to date is confusing and disappointing.
Other regions of Australia – Darwin, Geelong, Western Sydney, Albury/Wodonga – are benefitting from billions of dollars of investment through City Deals, so why is south east Queensland being neglected?
The Committee for Brisbane remains committed to working with all three levels of government to deliver a SEQ City Deal and, with PCA, we asked the governments to reconsider the decision and deliver on the promises made to south east Queensland residents to fund and prioritise City Deal projects that will support our growth and our economy.
Subsequently, we joined forces with nine other peak bodies to lobby all three levels of government to improve their level of engagement with industry.
With AI Group, Australian Constructors Association, Civil Contractors Federation Queensland, Engineers Australia, Housing Industry Association, Infrastructure Association of Queensland, Master Builders Queensland, Property Council of Australia and Urban Development Institute of Australia (Qld) we requested that the additional planning time be used to benefit SEQ by improving the level of engagement between governments and industry.
We acknowledged that our organisations and others had been included in discussions with the three levels of government on the City Deal, but said that engagement could be enhanced by more open and expansive consultation.
The Federal Government states: “City Deals are a genuine partnership between the three levels of government and the community to work towards a shared vision for productive and liveable cities”.
A core tenet of the original UK City Deal model is the prioritisation of infrastructure investment on the basis of the capacity of that infrastructure to deliver productivity improvement and jobs growth, by enabling decision makers to better engage with business and the community on investment decisions made around a central tenant of economic growth.
The 10 peak bodies have asked for the same level of rich engagement for the SEQ City Deal, to ensure that a wide range of experiences and knowledge are properly considered and can contribute to a well-supported, “road-tested”, long term deal.
Between us, our organisations have access to thousands of employers and employees, including companies and individuals with substantial national and international experience on city/region building.
We told the governments that we are keen for that to benefit the SEQ City Deal and requested that their engagement with industry be recalibrated to bring us further “into the tent”.
Now we are affiliated
In an initiative to expand the Committee’s engagement with other business leaders, we recently established a new membership category of Affiliate – to link with peak bodies, industry associations and not-for-profits that share an interest in our region.
The response to our invitation was overwhelming and, within a couple of weeks, we were delighted to welcome more than 20 organisations as Affiliates.
We are still waiting for a formal response from a few, but at the start of August our Affiliates are:
1. AI Group
2. Australian Institute of Architects
3. BHC (Brisbane Housing Company)
4. Brisbane Festival
5. Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce
6. Brisbane Visual Arts Advocacy
7. Brisbane West Chamber of Commerce
8. Civil Contractors Federation – Qld
9. Engineers Australia
11. Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia
12. Live Performance Australia
13. Museum of Brisbane
14. National Association for the Visual Arts
15. National Retail Association
16. Planning Institute of Australia
17. Property Council Australia (Qld)
18. Property Leaders Brisbane
19. Queensland Council of Social Service
20. Queensland Music Festival
21. Queensland Tourism Industry Council
22. Smart Cities Council, Australia New Zealand
23. The Real Estate Institute of Queensland
24. Queensland Futures Institute
Are we still open to debate?
Brisbane has an extraordinary opportunity to become a global intellectual leader, not just in selected technical research fields, but across the board, including humanities and social sciences, says Associate Member Murray Hancock.
Murray is Convenor of The Brisbane Dialogues, Australia’s first dedicated “civil discourse organisation” – a wholly independent, non-aligned, intergenerational, not-for-profit project to stimulate better discussions about big ideas and issues. Here, Murray asks some big questions about how modern society ponders and progresses:
A dark shadow of intolerance and fanaticism is undeniably stifling freedom of expression and healthy debate in traditionally leading centres of Western civilisation, not to mention the encroachment of authoritarianism in Asia and elsewhere.
Without respectful, robust public discourse, in an open contest of ideas, arguments and evidence, between people of goodwill and in good faith, social cohesion is stretched and the problem-solving and progress which are the hallmarks of humanity cannot happen.
The very survival of societies is threatened. A process and culture of healthy dialogue is literally vital.
Political correctness, censorship and self-censorship, twitter mobbing and cancel culture are all manifestations of the underlying problem. Extremes at both ends of the political spectrum are at it and the centre is muddling along, if not yet quite struggling to hold.
What opportunity could there possibly be in this mess?
The short answer is that, locally, we are not in such a mess yet.
Brisbane has developed into a modern metropolis, but has not been as infected or affected to the same extent as many other cities, in Australia and globally, by the problems described above. We are not immune to this looming pandemic, but we possess a degree of immunity.
I believe it is because Queenslanders retain a greater degree of commonsense, decency and pragmatism, an instinctive understanding of the need to rub along together in daily life, whatever noise there might be in politics or online.
We can still take a joke. We have a stronger sense of self-reliance, a willingness to get on with our lives whatever large institutions might be saying or doing.
Without getting carried away, I think this ethos is a tremendous asset while leading centres of Western civilisation seem to be succumbing to intolerance and groupthink.
So the opportunity is to become a healthy, vibrant centre of civilisation by:
• reaffirming and building on our ethos to develop an atmosphere which encourages freedom of expression (and the civil discourse which is essential to exercising it), and
• opening our borders to the intellectual mavericks, misfits and creatives who are seeking refuge from oppressive anti-intellectual institutions and cultures around the world.
This is not my original idea. Eric Weinstein, a prominent public intellectual in the US said early this year that he is “increasingly obsessed by the potential for Australia to leap ahead intellectually, because it hasn’t been affected to anything like the same degree as the rest of the Anglophone world”. (I say the same thing about Brisbane in relation to the southern capitals, and by extension the world, hence the extraordinary opportunity). Weinstein and others also talk about the diverse benefits of welcoming and encouraging mavericks and misfits, the exodus of European intellectuals to the UK and US around WW2 being a prime example.
Consider the principal themes of the Committee’s program: Connected, Creative, Enterprising and Equitable.
Imagine how activity in each of these areas could be boosted by an influx of highly skilled and educated, free thinking, energetic and grateful refugees from the oppression of the toxic intellectual culture increasingly gripping the traditional leading centres of the Western world.
Ponder the possibilities of boosted cross-fertilisation between them. It does not need much of a budget, just a collective will.
There is no space here to elaborate on how this might be done, but I have no doubt that the existing connected, creative, enterprising and equitable people already here could do it.
Welcome to our new members
We welcomed 13 new members in July.
• University of Queensland
• Parity Property
• Ethos Urban
• Bright Humans
• Leighton Cochrane
• Elizabeth Phasey
• Tracy Stockwell OAM
• Rosemary Vilgin
• Li Cunxin AO
• Julieanne Alroe