In July 2018, a delegation from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities visited China. Travelling to four cities in five days, the delegation bore witness to the incredible progress made by China, particularly in the development of cities and transport infrastructure. A number of key lessons arose from the visit, perhaps the most important being that we have much to learn from our biggest trading partner in the planning and development of infrastructure and cities.
One critical lesson from China is the importance and value of integrated planning. All China’s infrastructure is planned hand-in-hand with land use. This ensures that infrastructure development supports and is supported by other key economic, social and, increasingly, environmental objectives. Furthermore, it ensures that the uplift in property values created by this integrated development is automatically captured to entirely fund the infrastructure development.
In particular, the development model used by MTR in Hong Kong is directly applicable to Australia, both in retrofitting infrastructure into our cities and the infrastructure required for strategic decentralisation and sustainable growth. MTR provided the delegation with a full briefing of their business model—integrated planning of transport and land use, using comprehensive value capture to fully fund infrastructure development. MTR is already familiar with Australian conditions. They could easily apply their experience and expertise to assist with the development of transport infrastructure within our cities. More importantly, that model could be applied to the development of High Speed Rail in Australia.
China also provides lessons on the development and financing of housing in Australia. Official government policy is directed at ensuring that the housing market favours homebuyers over investors, with much higher equity requirements for investors in purchasing real estate, and restrictions on the amount of property that can be purchased by individual investors. Planned growth is about housing future generations.
The delegation to China was also an opportunity, in a small way, to enhance China–Australia relations. The delegation received a warm reception at every meeting and had the opportunity to engage in open discussion of issues significant to both nations—a practice that should be encouraged. I would like to personally thank all those who played a part in the organisation and conduct of the visit—our hosts in China and the consular staff who supported us. I would especially like to thank my parliamentary colleagues who, in a spirit of bipartisanship, ensured that the visit was productive and enjoyable.
Mr John Alexander OAM MP