News and published articles in 2019 to 2016

  • Regional city economies are sleeping giants

    Monday, 2 September, 2019

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    More than half of humanity now lives in cities, a proportion expected to grow to three-quarters by 2050. How are they doing, and what is Greater Newcastle’s role in responding to this trend within Australia?

    As a key indicator of wellbeing, the United Nations (UN) has started tracking the liveability of cities. Access to affordable housing, health care, clean air, public transport and adequate waste management are the critical measures of liveability that the UN will be watching.

    Australia’s capital cities are already showing signs of strain. Sydney and Melbourne, as we have noted previously, are homes to 40 per cent of the country’s population - 10 million people. Expected population growth will intensify competition to access opportunities for quality education and training, satisfying jobs, infrastructure and services. It is vital that we look outside our capitals to build on the economic opportunities that smaller cities and regions can offer and to create vibrant communities.

    Australia’s larger regional cities (with populations greater than 50,000) experience greater housing affordability, lower crime rates, less congestion and less marked inequality when compared to their capital counterparts, according to the Regional Australia Institute. They collectively represent an economy equivalent to the size of Finland. Here in the Hunter, the Gross Regional Product amounts to more than $50 billion annually. That is more than Tasmania, the Northern Territory or the ACT.

    This economic capability is complemented by their functionality as an outlet for capital city population and their roles as regional hubs. They provide regions with access to health care, education and financial resources. These cities thus occupy a key niche in the country’s socio-economic ‘ecosystem’.

    The potential of such cities was highlighted in the inaugural Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter Symposium in 2018, the first gathering of its kind in Australia. The forum enabled the 220 participants to learn more about leveraging opportunities in our non-capital cities while resolving urgent urban and regional challenges.

    This year’s Smaller & Smarter Cities: International Symposium is structured around the highest priorities identified at the conclusion of the 2018 event. It will present leading national and international practices on:

    1. socio-economic diversification and resilience
    2. collaboration across government, industry and community
    3. identity and positioningto promote the region as a place to live, invest and visit.

    The opening keynote address on 10 October will be delivered by Nigel Jacob - co-founder of New Urban Mechanics (NUM) in the Boston mayor’s office. The NUM team have been recognised as being at the forefront of urban design since soon after their formation in 2010. The challenges they are addressing are becoming increasingly prevalent in cities around the world.

    Working experimentally, Jacob has created a risk-tolerant culture at NUM. They have collaborated with government, artists and architects to trial Plugin housing (easily assembled temporary shelters). In pursuing better access across the city, they have developed micro mobility in the form of e-scooters and autonomous vehicle transport. They have also invested in city climate resilience through measures such as flood-resistant public spaces, among many other innovations.

    “We’re committed to finding new ways to collaborate with our community beyond the traditional model,” Jacob said in an interview earlier this year. “It may be about technology, but it may also not be about technology. It is really about understanding people in new ways.”

    Jacob has been named a Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine, earned a White House ‘Champion of Change’ award, and won the Tribeca ‘Disruptive Innovation’ award.

    He is one of 30 national and international speakers and panellists confirmed for the Smaller and Smarter Cities: International Symposium. They are real-world practitioners in business, planning, management, consultancy and government coming together to help us to explore an inclusive and sustainable future for Greater Newcastle.

    The symposium runs 9-11 October. Find out more at www.newcastle.edu.au/smaller-smarter-cities

    This opinion piece by Prof. Will Rifkin, Director, HRF Centre was published in the Newcastle Herald on 31 August 2019.

    The contribution was researched by graduate intern, Alice Peart. The HRF Centre is leading the delivery of the Smaller & Smarter Cities: International Symposium in partnership with the City of Newcastle, the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, Hunter Water, AECOM and sponsors.

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  • Building consensus, building a region

    Wednesday, 7 August, 2019

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    Lucy Turnbull AO, the Chief Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC), provided insights into how engagement and collaboration can build consensus for a regional future. She shared her experiences at the HRF Centre’s Hunter economic breakfast in July, drawing on a diverse career to offer points relevant to a range of initiatives underway in the Hunter.

    Ms Turnbull moved from practice in law into local government in 1999, becoming Sydney’s first female Lord Mayor in 2003-04. She subsequently was appointed Chair of the Committee for Sydney, then chair of the Greater Sydney Commission in 2015.

    She explained that organisations like the Committee for Sydney and our own Committee for the Hunter have an essential role to play in articulating, and then championing, what is important for the city and the region.

    “Their power lies in the capacity to bring multiple stakeholders, with multiple interests and perspectives, to the discussion table. It is where everyone has a common purpose: to make their city, or their region, work as well as it can. Having that multiplicity of voices is really important,” she stated.

    The HRF Centre has been working with key regional stakeholders, such as the Hunter Business Chamber, on the development of the Committee for the Hunter over the past 18 months. The need for such a Committee was specified in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, released in 2018. A proponent of the Metro Plan, Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, recently funded the Centre to accelerate evolution of the nascent Committee.

    The Committee’s recent re-launch was attended by more than 100 Hunter leaders from different sectors and diverse organisations. The University and Newcastle Airport were announced as its inaugural patrons. The two are offering significant financial support and encouraging others to join. Early commitments to paid membership have been encouraging, promising to enable the Committee to conduct a search for and then appoint a CEO. That will be followed by agreement on a constitution, a ballot for its first elected Board, and an agenda for research and advocacy. The Committee aims to provide a unified voice in the Hunter, being an independent and inclusive champion for the people of the Hunter and their enterprises.

    The Committee for Sydney supported formation of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC), Ms Turnbull explained. The GSC, established by NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes in 2015, is responsible for alignment of strategic planning and infrastructure development in Greater Sydney. It brings together government departments and agencies, focusing on collaboration and engagement. For Greater Sydney in 2036, they see population growth to 6.4 million, up from 4.7 million today. That will require creation of 817,000 new jobs and 725,000 new dwellings.

    “While we were preparing our plans, the Greater Sydney Commission directly engaged with 25,000 people,” Ms Turnbull said. “We held 500 events with communities, local government and industry and received a lot of submissions. Our draft plans were reviewed 90,000 times, and 750,000 people were reached through social media.”

    Engagement is necessary to the development of health and education precincts, as well, which Ms Turnbull argued are critically important. The Westmead health and education precinct, for instance, anticipates more than $3.4 billion government and private investment over next 10 years. By 2036, it has the potential to increase its workforce from 18,000 to 50,000 and to grow student numbers from 2,000 to 9,000.

    Ms Turnbull said that the bones are in place for the expansion of health, education and innovation precincts in our region. She cited the John Hunter Hospital campus and the University of Newcastle as key assets. Strategic planning is underway for the planned John Hunter Hospital Health and Innovation Precinct, and the University has announced plans for innovation precincts in the Newcastle CBD and the Callaghan campus.

    Ms Turnbull explained that such development, “will only be brought to its full potential with a lot of collaboration, across health and education, and with all the people who will drive innovation and the services that make that possible”.

    Newcastle has the best topography of anywhere in the world, best assets in terms of health and education, and the greatest potential to do brilliantly in the future, Ms Turnbull observed. It has the potential to leverage those assets via collaboration.

    “It is important to have the Hunter Research Foundation Centre, the newly emerged Committee for the Hunter and other groups working toward this end,” she stated. “It is only through collaboration, conversation and engagement that you will develop a dynamic and diversified economy.”

    Ms Turnbull is pictured with Cr Bob Pynsent, Chair of the Hunter Joint Organisation of Councils, in a Q&A session on regional collaboration, at the Hunter Economic breakfast in July.

    This opinion piece was published in the Newcastle Herald on 8 August, 2019

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  • Lucy Turnbull on collaboration and influence

    Monday, 5 August, 2019

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    Lucy Turnbull AO, Chief Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, spoke on collaboration and influence at the HRF Centre’s economic breakfast in July.

    Ms Turnbull drew insights from her diverse career. She left a legal practice in 1999 to move into local government, becoming Sydney’s first female Lord Mayor in 2003-04. She subsequently became Chair of the Committee for Sydney and the Greater Sydney Commission in 2015. She spoke about the value of such bodies to foster collaboration.

    “Organisations like the Committee for Sydney, and the Committee for the Hunter, have a huge role to play in championing and articulating what is important for the city or the region,” she stated.

    Their power lies in the capacity to bring multiple stakeholders, with multiple interests and perspectives, to the discussion table.

    “It is where everyone has a common purpose: to make their city, or their region, work as well as it can. Having that multiplicity of voices is really important,” she said.

    The Committee for Sydney strongly encouraged founding of the Greater Sydney Commission. The Commission, established by NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes in 2015, is responsible for alignment in strategic planning and infrastructure development in Greater Sydney. It brings together government departments and agencies with a focus on collaboration and engagement.

    “While we were preparing our plans, the Greater Sydney Commission directly engaged with 25,000 people,” Ms Turnbull said. “We held 500 events with communities, local government and industry and received a lot of submissions. Our draft plans were reviewed about 90,000 times, and 750,000 people were reached through social media.”

    Engagement was necessary to the development of health and education precincts, which Ms Turnbull noted are critically important to any city or region. The Westmead health and education precinct, for instance, will attract more than $3.4 billion in government and private investment over next 10 years. It has the potential to increase the workforce from 18,000 to 50,000 by 2036. The number of students is also expected to grow, from 2,000 in 2016 to 9,000 by 2036.

    She extrapolated what the approaches developed in Greater Sydney might mean for Greater Newcastle. Ms Turnbull said that the bones are in place already for the growth of our health, education and innovation precincts. She cited the John Hunter Hospital campus and the University of Newcastle as key assets for Greater Newcastle.

    “It will only be brought to its full potential with a lot of collaboration, across health and education, and with all of the people who will drive innovation and the services that make that possible,” she said.

    That includes having good local restaurants, walkways and cycle ways. Walkability and connectivity are critical to liveability, Ms Turnbull said. They also help in attracting and retaining talented people.

    “Do not underestimate the importance of lifestyle, which you have in great abundance,” Ms Turnbull said. “As an urbanist, I am amazed by the transformation of Newcastle’s urban precinct with the light rail. Removing the heavy rail, which divided the CBD from the river and the harbour, has created a visual transformation.”

    Newcastle has the best topography of anywhere in the world, best assets in terms of health and education, and the greatest potential to do brilliantly in the future, Ms Turnbull stated. It has the potential to leverage these assets through collaboration.

    “It is important to have the Hunter Research Foundation Centre, the newly emerged Committee for the Hunter and other groups working toward this end,” she explained. “It is only through collaboration, conversation and engagement that you develop a really good visitor economy and a dynamic and diversified economy.”

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  • Committee for the Hunter launch hosted by HRF Centre

    Monday, 5 August, 2019

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    A launch for the newly constituted Committee for the Hunter at NeW Space on 23 July was hosted by the Faculty’s HRF Centre.

    More than 100 Hunter leaders from different sectors and diverse organisations attended the launch. The Committee aims to provide a unified voice in the Hunter. It is an independent and inclusive champion for the people of the Hunter and their enterprises.

    The University and Newcastle Airport are inaugural patrons of the Committee for the Hunter.Both are providing significant financial support and encouraging others to provide support by joining.

    The HRF Centre has been working with key regional stakeholders, such as the Hunter Business Chamber, on the development of the Committee over the past 18 months. The need for such a Committee was specified in Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, released in 2018. As a proponent of the Metro Plan, Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, recently funded the Centre to accelerate evolution of the nascent Committee for the Hunter.

    Speakers at the launch included Eamon Waterford (pictured), Deputy CEO and Director of Policy for the Committee for Sydney. He described examples of its successful initiatives in Sydney, such as the Sandstone Megaregion report. He highlighted that robust, independent research from the Committee for Sydney provides thought leadership in relation to metropolitan planning and development.

    For the Committee for the Hunter, an interim board has been developing criteria for membership and strategies for governance. Early commitments to paid membership have been encouraging, promising to enable the Committee to conduct a search for and then appoint a CEO. That will be followed by agreement on a constitution, a ballot for its first elected Board, and an agenda for research and advocacy.

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  • Hunter economy softens – indicators released at breakfast

    Friday, 2 August, 2019

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    Business performance in the Hunter region softened dramatically in the first half of 2019.That is according to the latest Hunter Region Economic Indicators analysis, which was released at the Hunter Economic breakfast on 26 July.

    Dr Anthea Bill, lead economist for Faculty’s Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre, presented her insights to an audience of 300 business leaders at the Newcastle event. Dr Bill says that business confidence in the health of the regional economy over the next 12 months improved slightly in the first half of 2019. This view follows a sharp downward trend in the second half of 2018, a correction following buoyant confidence in the preceding time period.

    Dr Bill's presentation included analysis of the latest Hunter regional data on the use by businesses of information and communication technology. Adoption continues to trend upward. In relation to certain technologies, this upswing corrects a period in previous years where the region lagged behind national averages for use of websites and social media, for example.

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  • Planning Minister to talk on vision for the Hunter

    Thursday, 18 July, 2019

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    NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes will explore the opportunities and challenges ahead for the Hunter region in an exclusive event in Newcastle on Wednesday, 14 August.

    Mr Stokes will present on the theme The Hunter Ahead: Driving the Region’s Future at a dinner. The event will be jointly presented by the Hunter Business Chamber and Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre at NEX Newcastle.

    HRF Centre Director, Professor Will Rifkin, and Hunter Business Chamber CEO, Bob Hawes, agreed on the importance for the city and region to hear from, and respond to, an influential and respected NSW minister on key issues affecting the Hunter.

    “Greater Newcastle and the Hunter currently have an opportunity for economic growth and diversification, particularly with recent release of the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan and changes in the Sydney housing market. That makes this visit by the Minister particularly timely,” Professor Rifkin said.

    Mr Hawes noted that the jointly hosted event would continue the collaborative work the Chamber and the Centre have been doing to progress regional priorities.

    “The two organisations are leading partners in regional initiatives, such as the establishment of the Committee for the Hunter and the Second Cities Symposium,” Mr Hawes said.

    “Our events and forums aim to build knowledge, extend networks and share ideas. We invite people from across all sectors and interest groups to come along to this dinner to be informed, challenged, inspired and ‘connected’.”

    Tickets for the dinner are $150 per person or $1200 per table of eight. 

    Bookings can be made online at: https://events.humanitix.com.au/stokes-dinner-14-aug-2019

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