Above image: Screenshot from National Cities Performance Framework Dashboard at

Above image: Screenshot from National Cities Performance Framework Dashboard at

Australian Government launches country’s first National Cities Performance Framework

The Australian Government has launched Australia’s first National Cities Performance Framework to track the progress and performance of Australia's largest cities.

The Framework is intended to support the Australian Government's Smart Cities Plan. There are 6 policy priorities to help achieve the objectives of the Plan: Jobs & skills; Housing; Infrastructure & investment; Liveability & sustainability; Innovation & digital opportunities; and Governance, planning & regulation. The performance of the cities is measure using two types of indicators: Performance (Aspects of a city that can be measured and tracked against policy priorities.) and Context (Characteristics of a city that help understand what it’s like & why it functions the way it does).

It is published on a Dashboard at to assist governments, industry and the community to better target cities policy and investments, including through City Deals. (An interim report was released for public consultation in July 2017.)

The Framework contains 46 indicators, and draws on nationally consistent, comparable and reliable data sets.

Key indicators include:

  • Jobs accessible in 30 minutes’ - access to jobs is a key driver of accessibility and quality of life in cities.  On average across Australia’s largest cities, 85.4 per cent of jobs are accessible within 30 minutes by car.
  • Housing price to income ratio’ - a lack of affordable housing can weigh on a city’s economic performance and can undermine social cohesion and exacerbate wealth inequality. On average across Australia’s largest cities, a median priced dwelling costs 6.2 times the median annual household income. 
  • Access to green space’ - accessibility to green space can provide opportunities for recreation and exercise, improve air quality and reduce urban heat island effects. On average, across Australia’s largest cities approximately 80 per cent of dwellings in Australia’s cities are within 400 metres of green space.
  • Business creation’- in a dynamic, innovative economy a high rate of business creation is expected. This is required for cities to thrive in a fast-paced and competitive global environment. Across Australia’s largest cities, the average business entry rate is 13.9 per cent per year.
  • Employment growth’ - being in paid work affects the strength of a city’s economy and has important implications for a person’s economic, social and emotional wellbeing. On average, across Australia’s largest cities, employment growth is 2.6 per cent.  
  • "Youth unemployment’ - as well as an income, people gain a sense of worth from their work and enjoy greater opportunities for social engagement, which enhances both mental and physical wellbeing. On average, the rate of youth unemployment across Australia’s largest cities is 11.9 per cent.

This Framework is in line with the Australian Government’s commitment to open and accessible data sharing.The initial focus of the Performance Framework is on Australia’s 21 largest cities, each with population above 80,000. The Framework also includes Western Sydney, recognising the region’s national significance and aligned to the area of the Western Sydney City Deal.

The Performance Framework is a living resource to be improved over time through annual updates and three yearly reviews. This will ensure it continues to reflect best available information and provides a strong evidence base to guide new investments and reforms in our cities.

Addressing the Cities Reference Group meeting in Canberra today, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, thanked industry leaders, researchers and non-government organisations for helping to shape the Framework over the past year.

Assistant Minister Taylor said the Framework was about encouraging individual cities to improve outcomes. He explained, “It’s not a matter of one city being better than another, this dashboard tells us about the differences in our biggest cities. It tells us that we need policies that customise solutions for individual cities and a national government has to be part of that, just as local governments already are.”

“The timing of this is fantastic because we’ve just got a really comprehensive dataset from the most recent Australian census, which allows us to see the most updated picture of the economic and growth profile of these cities.”

“The 30 minute city metric for instance, is new connectivity data which hasn’t been applied before. And we’re going to keep adding new data, because we know there’s great information coming out of not just the public sector, but the private sector. The specific goals, to inform potential future City Deals, will come from these metrics. It’s very obvious when you look at each of these cities, what the challenges are that we have to address as a top priority and our City Deals will do exactly that,” he added.

A slew of grants was announced recently under the first round of the Australian Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, providing AU$28.5 million for 52 projects.

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