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Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities
Australian government's role in the development of cities

FARRELL, Mr Anthony, Director, City Strategy, Lake Macquarie City Council

HOWE, Dr Alice, Executive Manager, External Engagement, Lake Macquarie City Council

PUNCH, Mr Stephen, Principal Planner, Urban Growth, Maitland City Council


CHAIR: I now welcome representatives of Lake Macquarie City Council and Maitland City Council to give evidence today. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise you that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as the proceedings of the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as contempt of parliament. The evidence given today will be recorded by Hansard and attracts parliamentary privilege. I now invite you to make a brief opening statement before we proceed to discussion. Any and all are invited.

Dr Howe : Thank you for the opportunity to address the inquiry and for taking the time to come to the Hunter. We're always pleased to see members of the federal parliament with us in the Hunter. Lake Macquarie City Council particularly welcomes this inquiry and the indication of your commitment to work with state, territory and local governments to create more equitable and livable cities across the country. As the Lord Mayor of Newcastle mentioned, the Hunter is the largest regional economy in Australia. It's a global gateway with significant export capability. We're actually only utilising about half of the capability of this port at present. And we have an emerging international visitation capability as well within the region. Lake Macquarie city is actually the largest local government area in the Hunter. We contribute about 20 per cent to regional gross domestic product, with a population of just over 200,000 people. Feel free, if you have time, to pop down to the south, which is equally beautiful.

Council recognises that continuing to rely on the approaches that have served our city well in the past is not going to be sufficient to meet the disruptive challenges that approach us in the future, particularly with an ageing population and, in this coastal location, significant climate change risks. Specifically in relation to your subinquiry into sustainability transitions in existing cities, we commend the leadership that the Australian government is showing in this space, and we think that there are significant levers that the Australian government has to support sustainable urban development. In our view, they include providing national policy to deliver sustainability outcomes, setting national standards, and coordinating infrastructure planning and delivery across the country, and we strongly support a national framework for land-use planning.

In relation to your second subinquiry into growing new and transitioning existing sustainable regional cities and towns, we note that people choose to live in locations that they consider desirable for a whole host of personal preferences, and we need to keep that in mind when planning policy at any level of government. To attract people to regional areas, in our view, requires increased collaboration among the three tiers of government to enhance the strategic advantages of regions such as ours. This collaboration should apply the policy and investment levers that are at all of our governments' disposal and present a compelling case for private investment. This investment is required in new industries, particularly in areas like this that have a history of a resource based economy and are transitioning to a knowledge based economy, to target local capability and resources in services that communities should reasonably expect, particularly in health and education, and in solutions to environmental constraints. In our location that is particularly around exposure to natural disasters.

Given the rate of biodiversity loss in Australia, the lack of water and distances to neighbouring settlements in many locations across this country, we see it's questionable whether new settlements in many locations are viable. Instead, it would be better in our view to invest in infrastructure in the places where Australians already prefer to live. The Hunter, and Lake Macquarie in particular, is such a place and would benefit from close collaboration with the Australian government to become a smarter and more sustainable region. We encourage the idea of two tiers of government and a faster train network across the country and are happy to aspire to those outcomes. We do welcome the City Deal for the Hunter, and at least a faster train to Sydney would be great for us. We think value capture could be at least one of the mechanisms available to support those sorts of outcomes. Thank you for inviting us to appear. We would welcome your questions on our submission.

CHAIR: Is there anything else you would like to add by way of an opening statement?

Mr Punch : I have prepared my own opening statement.

CHAIR: Very good.

Mr Punch : I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak on behalf of Maitland City Council. I do this from the perspective of not so much an academic level but more from the point of view of a practitioner with over 30 years experience in both local government and the private sector. I would like to focus for a few minutes on the example of the regional city of Maitland to hopefully illustrate some of the challenges facing all tiers of government as we seek to grow our cities and match this growth with an appropriate level of infrastructure provision.

To provide some context, the 2016 census identified Maitland as the fastest growing region in New South Wales outside Sydney. With a current population of around 80,000 people, Maitland is preparing to deliver an additional 12,500 new dwellings over the next 20 years. That will take the city's residential population to around 115,000. In addition to residential growth, the city contains around 155 hectares of zoned but as yet undeveloped employment land, and we see that Stockland has invested $414 million in the redevelopment of the Green Hills commercial precinct. Health Infrastructure New South Wales are also well advanced in the planning of a new regional hospital at Metford. This level of growth brings with it significant additional pressure on existing infrastructure—roads, utilities, health and emergency facilities, and educational facilities—and it's this type of pressure that establishes a strong case for the provision of new infrastructure to address issues of capacity and reduce levels of service of current infrastructure.

Some of the things that we've identified or observations that I can make over this period of growth are as follows. Firstly, there are the difficulties that some regional cities are experiencing in obtaining or securing grant funding for infrastructure. New South Wales government infrastructure grant schemes such as the Housing Acceleration Fund and the Local Infrastructure Growth Scheme are positive initiatives, but the distribution of these funds has been weighted significantly towards the Sydney metro region. While I appreciate the need for these schemes to operate with an appropriate set of checks and balances in place to ensure integrity, accountability and transparency, the process is nonetheless very complex with much duplication. There are perhaps opportunities to improve the efficiency of the administration of these schemes and also to re-evaluate the criteria used to determine where funding is allocated to give improved representation to regional cities.

During 2017, council provided a list of preferred infrastructure priorities to three separate agencies, each asking the same questions and each seemingly unaware of what the other was doing in this space. While the interest in the infrastructure needs of the region is encouraging, there's certainly a need for improved coordination between agencies in the field of infrastructure planning and delivery. The initiatives of the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment and of Transport for New South Wales in the regional planning arena are welcomed. The Hunter Regional Plan 2036, the Draft Greater Newcastle Metro Plan, the draft Hunter region special infrastructure proposal and the Draft Greater Newcastle Transport Plan together represent the most concerted effort to date in planning for a more coordinated approach to urban growth and infrastructure provision on a regional and subregional level. There is, however, more work to be done on refining these draft plans to reduce their Newcastle city centricity and better reflect the role and function of other key regional centres and their contribution as part of a properly integrated Greater Newcastle metro area.

The draft Hunter Region Special Infrastructure Contribution proposal is generally supported as a vastly improved mechanism for generating developer contributions towards state and/or regional infrastructure. The process avoids inconsistencies that exist in the current voluntary planning agreement based system. It's more transparent and practical to implement. There is, however, the need to demonstrate a greater level of robustness around the scope of the proposals that are on the sick list in the methodology behind the costings.

The availability of jobs is essential to growing a strong regional centre. It's a sound planning principle that people would like to live within a reasonable distance of where they work. When the spatial distribution of employment lands and residential areas come together with an appropriate standard of road and transport infrastructure, the resulting benefits are reduced commuting times, opportunities for other modes of transport to be used and reduced fossil fuel consumption. The continued growth and development of employment land, both within local government areas such as Maitland and within other nearby areas which have good levels of accessibility, is essential to the future of this region. The significant national investment in the broadband network, and the improvements to the road and transport network that provide better connectivity to other regional areas and Sydney, mean that businesses are no longer so geographically constrained—as they once were. Incentives at both federal and state government level which encourage the establishment of businesses in regional cities would certainly be a positive step.

In closing, it's encouraging to see the Australian government asking questions about the future of cities in Australia. It's evident that the New South Wales state government are doing a substantial amount of work in the regional planning space, and Maitland council looks with interest at the extent to which the federal government might also become active in this area.

Mr GILES: For our friends from Lake Macquarie, I note your comments about the state of the regional infrastructure plan and your sense of where state and national governments should be focusing their attention. If you could explain to me the importance of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange to the broader region? I understand it is, through a consensus of all local governments in the area, the most important infrastructure ask.

Mr Farrell : It's difficult to encapsulate in a short description. The Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange is a proposal that emanates from regional planning decisions made in the eighties by the New South Wales government. Lake Macquarie City Council has directed its own planning decision-making to help with the delivery of the interchange, and over the last, probably, 20 years we've made critical decisions and investments to see the interchange achieved.

One of the shortcomings, though, in seeing this realised is that there is no link between land use planning at the state or federal level and infrastructure investment decision-making. So while there is significant investment in our region in transport, the interchange continues to be overlooked, and it's really only through the efforts of council that we've seen a start on the project. What it promises to deliver—and why it's no doubt been identified in regional plans—is a catalytic improvement in the public transport network, both within the region and beyond, so it allows better utilisation of the heavy rail and, potentially, the bus network. It would support significant redevelopment of some brownfields industrial land, and more intensive use of existing industrial land in the Glendale-Cardiff area. We have a former lead smelter in the heart of our city, which has been decommissioned and has had ongoing decontamination undertaken, which is coming to a conclusion. That site is now ready for redevelopment. The first part of the redevelopment of that site has commenced with major commercial investment, and some residential development has already occurred, but we have up to another 60 hectares of employment land and about 600 residential lots to be developed. On top of that, we have about 2,000 dwellings that will be unlocked if the interchange is able to be delivered.

While job numbers are hard to predict because we don't know the nature of the development that will be attracted, we'd anticipate a similar number of jobs to be created through the intensification of the existing Cardiff industrial area, the Glendale retail precinct, the Cardiff retail precinct and, of course, the Pasminco land that I mentioned. So it's quite critical. It's the kind of thing that I think deserves the attention of the federal government in broadscale infrastructure investment planning. The federal government has, by the way, assisted with the initial development work that has occurred there through one of the funding bodies, but the recognition of that sort of investment in some sort of national plan or national commitment to planning is the sort of thing that would give certainty to the private sector to make the complementary investments. We do already have significant interest and precommitments from a couple of multinational companies that want to base themselves in the locality. Stockland is already there, and has just got approval for a $60 million upgrade of its facility. Downer is building trains there. It's the only train facility with direct access to the rail network in regional New South Wales. Everyone else has to shut a road and cross a freeway or a main road to access the railway workshops. It has a lot of advantages and we'd like to see that capitalised on. There's a lot of latent potential there.

Dr Howe : We'd be happy to provide a copy of our budget submission, if the inquiry would be interested.

Mr GILES: That would be very helpful, thank you.

CHAIR: Mr Farrell, in relation to the comments regarding the interchange and the lack of link between infrastructure and land use, I understand that, if the interchange had been funded and built, there would have been a positive impact on values of land and if the land had been zoned proactively, this would have—

Mr Farrell : This is where the system has been let down, because the zoning and land-use changes have been made and the planning is in place, but the infrastructure commitments which have been announced by past governments but not followed through are now lagging, so the value capture opportunity, in a capital sense, has passed. The capital values have been realised and are now in the hands of the owners. The New South Wales government is a significant landowner, so it will reap the benefit, but, in terms of private sector value capture or betterment capture, most of the opportunities for capital improvement have passed. While we're talking about value capture, I think one of the things that it would be potentially worthwhile for the committee to consider is that there's a lot of discussion or a lot of reliance on the models that the US use for value capture, particularly TIF, or tax increment financing. One of the unique characteristics of US local government is their sales tax regime, and the way that their value capture often works—not always, but in the majority of circumstances—is that local governments will invest in infrastructure and borrow against the future uplift in recurrent income. It's not all about capital; it's about recurrent income. Effectively, they are betting that increased economic activity will lead to better sales tax income and/or land tax income. They go to a financial institution, make their case that this investment they're going to make will give them that benefit, make the borrowings and then repay the loans through the tax revenues.

The two problems in New South Wales particularly are that, of course, we have rate capping, which means that increase in the value of land is not captured by the land rates tax system, and we don't have a sales tax revenue, which means that increased economic activity doesn't give us a growth revenue for the purposes of funding investments. We have made a case to the federal government previously to assist with the funding of a local investment. We anticipated and made a case in regard to GST income, for example, being the federal government's most effective growth tax, where we were trying to capture the increment out of GST to help fund our proposal. We realised that it was maybe a cute proposal, and it didn't really get a lot of traction, but I think it's the sort of discussion that needs to be brought into the value capture argument. I think the overemphasis on capital gains frightens the development industry. I've spent my career dealing with developers on the public sector side, so it's probably not my place to put their case for them. However, it's a difficult and tenuous game at times, and adding costs, particularly in the pre-development phase, can be a bit of a handbrake on both their confidence and their capacity to raise finance. So I absolutely agree with value capture being part of the mechanisms, but I'm particularly interested more in those long-term, recurrent revenue streams that can then let other private sector financing enter into solving the problem.

CHAIR: So you'd agree that land tax replacing stamp duty would be a way of achieving what you're talking about?

Mr Farrell : Potentially, yes—provided, of course, there's a growth element. You need to capture the increased economic activity. It's not just about trying to capture a share of the increase in capital value, because either that's hard to unlock or it's an impediment to the investment; it's about capturing the increased economic activity that the public investment is going to unleash.

Dr Howe : Perhaps just to follow on from that, in New South Wales, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is proposing a mechanism whereby councils would be able to have a special rate variation that related to an uplift in value for infrastructure investment, and we would encourage the New South Wales government to adopt that recommendation.

CHAIR: Section 94s are a form of value capture, aren't they, but they are—

Dr Howe : Limited, constrained.

Mr Farrell : And they're highly contentious.

CHAIR: And they inhibit development often?

Mr Farrell : Absolutely, they can.

CHAIR: But if we were to plan the infrastructure and the land use in advance and couple those together, would we not be partnering the developer in gift-wrapping land to give them certainty of infrastructure and zoning? Therefore, what they're paying for that land is real value. It takes the speculation out; it takes waiting periods out; it takes out the old game of buying up little parcels of land, trying to put them together, then trying to apply for planning approvals and zoning and dealing with holdouts and all that. Therefore, with the price paid for that land that is rezoned with the accompanying infrastructure, the seller of that land is actually being taxed and the developer is getting real value. I would think that that is being an assistance to the developer, and the head of Stockland agrees.

Mr Farrell : You're increasing certainty, but you're also suggesting that you're going to operate in a part of the process where the government hasn't previously operated. There have been prior attempts. In New South Wales, there was serious discussion in the fifties and sixties about a betterment tax when the planning for Sydney was starting to be taken seriously, and there was a proposal for a betterment tax to fund the green belt system around Greater Sydney. I absolutely agree with the principle of what you're saying, and, if there was a mechanism supported by government to achieve it, I'm sure that local government generally would be very supportive.

The problem is that the development industry benefits, in no small part, from the speculation that arises out of land banking and land aggregation, and what you're describing captures that value that is currently solely owned by the development industry. I would foresee a very difficult political pathway to installing some mechanism of that nature. But, absolutely, there would be very few town planners operating in the public sector in Australia that wouldn't support some sort of betterment tax of the nature you've described.

CHAIR: When you look retroactively at what happened around Castle Hill train station and developers who have paid speculative prices and then subsequently had difficulty with getting some planning approvals, they might not have done well. There were some astronomic prices paid for those homes. It always comes to my mind that that homeowner, who has 20 times the value of the home courtesy of their fellow taxpayer having funded the infrastructure, they are still only getting a speculative price. If it had been rezoned they might have got even more. But it wouldn't have been such a bad thing to pay some form of capital gains tax or something on that.

Mr Farrell : I am not here today to speak on behalf of the council, but I was the planning director for strategic planning at Baulkham Hills Shire Council when the rezoning of the Rouse Hill area was created. So I have firsthand experience of what happened at Rouse Hill and Castle Hill. So we can juxtapose the Castle Hill outcome with the Rouse Hill outcome. Rouse Hill is also getting a railway station. It was effectively the end of the line for the greenfield development that was occurring in the north-west sector. In that instance, the New South Wales government bought the former Mungerie Park golf course, where the Rouse Hill Town Centre is now located. They secured that before they released their regional plan, which created Rouse Hill as the development heart of that release area and captured the value for the public purse of those planning decisions.

Rouse Hill, on the other hand, being already a well-established centre, there were some large holdings. Baulkham Hills Council—now the Hill Shire Council—did very well out of their holdings. But of course the council didn't have control of those big infrastructure decisions and a separate entity was set up to help fund Rouse Hill. There was a lot more private sector funding that went into Rouse Hill, particularly for water and sewer infrastructure, than typically was the case in Western Sydney because of the desire to get ahead of the state government's planning time frames.

So it is a really interesting model. You are quite right that, if you had bought a house in Castle Hill in the early eighties, you would have done extremely well out of the uplift in value and no doubt you would be batting offers away every day for your property.

CHAIR: It's happening all over Sydney. I discovered during the recent by-election that speculators were going around every home because of the anticipation that there would be a rezoning close to the East Denistone train station.

Mr Farrell : This is a much bigger problem for Sydney as a whole. Sydney is an amazing economic driver for the state and for the country. There is no doubt that we're doing very well nationally out of Sydney's success. However, I think it's time to turn our attention to the question of when we are going to kill Sydney—when are we going to make Sydney unliveable because of the intensity of the activity in Sydney, based on our expectations as citizens of Australia about how we live and what we anticipate getting out of our homes and our work? This is where the federal government has a really important role to play in answering the big questions about where the critical investments are going to be made and, therefore, where population centres will develop in the long term.

We obviously have an interest in talking about the Hunter, and I think the previous speaker was talking about the Hunter. But, in our view, you can't talk about the Hunter without incorporating the Central Coast. Our LGA sits at the interface between the Hunter and the Central Coast. We seem to be the ones that have to take forward the case that north of the Hawkesbury to the Manning River is a region that requires very serious attention in relieving the pressures on Sydney and the nation more generally.

While we're doing it, there's a peripheral issue here—which isn't the thrust of our submission. I think we have to think about not only how we succeed in the regions, because of the unique characteristics of the regions—we're not pushing people into parts of the country where they don't really fit and where they can't be sustained, as some of the old Growth Centres Commission work tried to do—but what sort of energy we're dragging out of the smaller towns and centres in our rural areas through the success of our regional cities. It's the same quandary that you face in dealing with Sydney's long-term future when you talk about places like Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Tamworth and so forth: what sort of economic impetus are they dragging away from those smaller towns within their regions? For us it's the same thing: how much more gravity can flow down the Hunter River into the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie area at the expense of the smaller towns in the upper Hunter?

CHAIR: I think that's really why we're here today: recognising that the burden of growth largely lies with Sydney and Melbourne. What can we do to have a strategic plan of decentralisation? Evidence given at one of our previous hearings was that there was an incredible amount of land between Maitland and Newcastle that wouldn't require EPA approval to convert to housing, where some million blocks of land existed—whatever the evidence was—and, when you looked at high-speed rail connectivity to Sydney, there would be all of the benefits of being in Sydney but not the downside. You'd be providing growth without more housing price and congestion pressures on Sydney and whatever else. It would be effectively creating a critical mass not for commuters but for a very large city or urban area that would have the leverage and advantage of Sydney without being in Sydney. Those were, I think, the greater planning ideas. I think it was said by one of the people who previously gave evidence today that it is not to create new cities but to look at what's in existence and how what's here can be leveraged. I think that's the great interest of your very region.

Dr Howe : The Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan articulates that vision. But the digital connectivity is as important as the physical connectivity for this region—so making sure that people can have a sustainable decentralised business located in the Hunter but still be effectively able to engage with Sydney and Melbourne.

Ms McBRIDE: I have a question for Mr Punch. You were talking about proximity to local jobs, and I was noting also the growth that's forecast for your region. In 2014 it was sitting around 75,000 and projected to be over 90,000 by 2023. What's your region doing in order to, I guess, prepare for this, particularly given the diverse economy that you have?

Mr Punch : We do recognise as a city that, in terms of our role in what I'll call the greater metro region, we are carrying a lot of the region's growth in terms of residential land supply, particularly in terms of greenfield development. We have three particularly large urban release areas: one at Thornton, with about 5,000 to 6,000 lots; one at Lochinvar to the western side of the city, of a similar size; and a couple of others. They collectively give us about 20 to 25 years of residential land supply ahead of us. We recognise that a lot of commuter trips occur from Maitland flowing back to Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, and there's probably been an increase in commuter travel—not to a huge degree but towards Sydney. So we are very cognisant of the fact that we have land that's available and suitable for employment and lands development. We've got almost full development of lands that were zoned for employment or industrial development up until about four or five years ago, and we've brought on 155 hectares of additional employment land to the west of city.

It's interesting that with that in our projections of how long that land will last there's been a state significant development proposal for an intermodal transport facility off the railway corridor that effectively quarantines or removes about half of that 155 hectares straightaway for a single development. That's certainly something we hadn't contemplated. So, it does impact our long-range planning. If that was to go ahead we'd have to look at bringing some land on earlier. But in terms of what the council's doing in a proactive sense, it is making sure that we do have adequate land available in a zone sense to meet or facilitate that growth when it's available.

Mr WALLACE: This is probably directed towards you, Mr Punch, but others should feel to chime in if you'd like. You've heard the discussions this morning about a national planning strategy. The Lord Mayor was saying earlier that the feds and the states should basically get out of the way and let the local governments do just about everything. My response to that was, well, shouldn't we have some form of a national strategy? What's your view on that, and also what's your view on whether we should have, for want of a better term, a national planner or a chief planner—call him or her whatever you'd like to call it—someone who is responsible for overseeing a national strategy?

Mr Punch : I guess it's about layers of government and how many people need to weigh in to the planning of states and regions. And in general terms I'd support the comments of Mayor Nuatali Nelmes—

Mr WALLACE: Of course you would—you work in local government!

Mr Punch : Yes. But certainly in terms of some high-level direction, accepting that we've got three layers of government, high-level direction for the states at a policy level as to what the federal government's priorities are and what its aims and objectives are in terms of growing regions and states—this whole principle about Sydney, how big it should grow and at what point we keep investing in Sydney and how we measure the rate of return we get on that investment, in terms of the liveability of that city and cost of living. They're the big issues that I think at the federal level really need to be tackled. I think there is a place, at a very high level, to identify to the states what as a federal government we see as priorities in a planning sense.

Mr WALLACE: And chief strategist, chief planner?

Mr Punch : That's a hard one. It would have to be a structure that works somehow. There'd have to be some accountability in there. I suppose some person's got to sit there and drive it. If you're going to have such a thing it needs somebody there with experience or a body of people there with some experience to develop it.

Mr WALLACE: Dr Howe?

Dr Howe : I think our submission supports the idea of leadership at the national level in terms of a land use planning framework. We would support Barbara Norman's suggestion of a planning commission to support that work at a national level. And I guess we disagree slightly with previous speakers in relation to the role of local government We are one part of the three tiers of government and we need all three parts to be working together to get an effective, sustainable liveable cities framework for this country.

Mr Farrell : My observation of those who want others to get out of the way is that it is just their way of saying, 'I want things all my own way.' And that's not the way planning works at its best. I think absolutely there's a role for planning at the national level, and you have exactly the same difficulty that councils have in trying to find out what that plan contains, and that's where the strength of the plan comes from. It's about how you build that plan. It has to be done on a basis where there is agreement or consensus—a bit like the Murray-Darling model. It's such a success. We should turn that to land use planning.

But it needs to be done in a way that you have adequate support from the agencies that are going to deliver it, that they're prepared to stick to it. There is no question that over time political pressures will come to bear on the delivery of a plan of that nature. So, it has to be absolutely rock solid and sound in its values and the way it was prepared and what it's trying to achieve so that it's self-perpetuating and can't really be picked apart. Obviously different entities will go away and do their own thing if it suits them, for political reasons. But the plan itself will have a life beyond those sorts of hiccups if it's prepared properly.

In respect of a chief planner, I'm a bit like the Lord Mayor in that respect, in that when I agree with what they're trying to do I think they're great and when I don't agree I think they're terrible. However, I think the commission approach is much more sensible. It allows a variety of perspectives to be brought to the table. It facilitates potential links back into the key stakeholders, whether they be governments or industry sectors or whatever. And it is more likely to deliver a sustainable solution. I think a national chief planner or chief strategist is simply going to be either somebody who survives on the cult of personality or somebody who becomes the first one out the door every time there's a change of government.

Dr Howe : And there needs to be a monitoring framework in place. We'd strongly support the National Cities Performance Framework in what it's trying to do in holding those planning frameworks accountable in terms of implementation. Are they actually delivering what they are planned to do on the ground?

Mr Farrell : And if that also informs the discussion it becomes a language that you can share between the different levels of government and the different stakeholders for what you are achieving and what you are trying to achieve.

CHAIR: But this commission would sit somewhere close to Infrastructure Australia and IPFA. Would that be right?

Mr Farrell : Yes.

CHAIR: They need to talk.

Mr Farrell : Yes, of course.

CHAIR: We're out of time. Thank you, because I think this is such a critical region to get it right—an incredible amount of potential—and that we should learn from our past mistakes. I think the constant thing we're getting is that we need to have greater planning of infrastructure and attachment to land use, which were the recommendations of our previous inquiry. So, we're putting a bit more meat on the bones there, so we're in furious agreement. Thank you so much for your attendance. If you've been asked to provide any additional information, could you please forward it to the secretary by Monday 19 March. You'll be sent a copy of the transcript of your evidence and will have the opportunity to request corrections to transcription errors. Thank you again for attending.

Proceedings suspended from 12 : 18 to 13 : 09