Governance and Cities: The shifting urban governance dynamic

  • Authors: Michael Lemieszek
  • Format: Occasional Paper
  • Published Date: 13 May 2010


The Commonwealth Government has traditionally taken a low key role on the urban front. While decisions made by the Commonwealth have always had an impact on the way that our cities develop, up to now these effects have mostly been the consequences of other policies such as immigration, industry and taxation. Some sporadic bursts of interest, such as the Whitlam Government’s urban and housing initiatives and the Hawke/Keating Government’s Building Better Cities program, have been exceptions.

As a result, governing Australia’s cities came to be a settled two-player game with a degree of certainty in how the game would be played. The dynamic between state and local governments on matters related to city development, while not necessarily smooth, was a simple two way transaction where state governments generally had the fiscal and legislative upper hand.

However, the urban governance dynamic began to shift with the Rudd Government's explicit statements that it wanted to be involved in governing cities, and the subsequent actions taken to realise this desire. The Commonwealth’s new found urban boldness is sure to have consequences for the urban governance dynamic and therefore, at least eventually, for cities themselves. That is the topic of this paper.

These Occasional Papers are jointly published by ANZSOG and the (former) Victorian State Services Authority.

Suggested citation

Lemieszek, M. (2010). Governance and Cities: The shifting urban governance dynamic. SSA/ANZSOG Occasional Paper, 10. Melbourne: ANZSOG.