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Urban planning expert to head major cities unit.



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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

22 October 2008 AA158/2008

URBAN PLANNING EXPERT TO HEAD MAJOR CITIES UNIT

Ms Dorte Ekelund - a person with more than 25 years of urban planning experience - will head up the Rudd Labor Government's new Major Cities Unit within the Office of Infrastructure Australia.

As head of the Major Cities Unit, Ms Ekelund will advise government on urban design and development at a time when there is more pressure than ever before on our cities from challenges such as climate change, ageing infrastructure and population growth.

The Government is very pleased that an individual with such a significant expertise in urban planning and a strong track-record in strategic infrastructure investment has agreed to serve as the inaugural head of this important new national body.

Ms Ekelund has demonstrated her passion and commitment to excellence in urban planning and development during a career in which she has played a prominent role in key national debates.

Ms Ekelund has worked extensively within the NSW local government sector as well as holding senior leadership positions within the governments of the ACT and WA.

Since January 2007, she has been the Deputy Director General of the WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure and a member of the WA Planning Commission with responsibility for planning for the State's booming growth.

Ms Ekelund will take up her new role next month.

Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with more than four out five Australians living in urban communities. Between 2001 and 2006 our capital cities were responsible for 78 per cent of the nation's economic growth.

At present our cities have to deal with a myriad of government departments, all of which can have a direct impact on their economic, social and environmental performance.

The Major Cities Unit will provide a more coordinated and integrated approach, identifying opportunities where federal leadership can make a difference to the prosperity of our cities and the wellbeing of their residents.

It will also be central to developing a strong relationship across the Commonwealth Government as well as between all levels of government and the private sector. The Major Cities Unit will work hand in hand with Infrastructure Australia, the new body charged with prioritising billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure around the nation.