thurs 27 may 2021


Planning for the future of metropolitan governance in Australia: opportunities and challenges for local government coordination


Within Australia’s 3-tier federal system the planning and management of metropolitan complexity – at what scale, how, by whom, and with what resources – is a contested agenda. The messy reality of settlement, development and growth does not adhere neatly to local or state administrative boundaries particularly in relation to critical issues like climate change, transport, water, waste and energy. The interconnected nature and increasing complexity of Australian cities and regions have raised critical questions about the political fragmentation and multiplicity of boundaries and has re-ignited calls for metropolitan-scale governance.


This session presents research from the AHURI-funded project, Local Government Co-ordination: Metropolitan Governance in Twenty-first Century Australia. The project offers a comprehensive review of Australian and international experiences, focusing on models for metropolitan governance and the (measurable or perceived) benefits of local government coordination for communities in metropolitan regions. The guiding question for the project is: How can local government coordination in Australia’s metropolitan regions be achieved, and what are the challenges and opportunities for local governments to cooperate in the field of urban and transport planning?


The project reveals barriers to effective metropolitan governance and suggests opportunities to reframe the relationships between local governments, the States and Commonwealth, and each other in a period of significant social and environmental change. Despite a history of increasingly centralised control of metropolitan planning, transport and infrastructure roles by State Governments, more recent influences from private sector players and direct relationships between the Commonwealth and local governments are examples that suggest an increasing potential for working together to influence decisions at the metropolitan scale. This presentation highlights three key findings: current successful Australian and international examples; recommendations for how local government coordination on a metropolitan level could be implemented in Australia; and the implications of metropolitan-scale governance for the future of planning.

Andrew Butt MPIA

RMIT University

Andrew is an Associate Professor in Sustainability and urban Planning at RMIT University. His teaching and research has a local and international focus on urban and peri-urban policy and practice in relation to climate, governance and research translation. He is a member of the PIA (Vic) Committee.

Stefanie Dühr 

University of South Australia 

Stefanie Dühr is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of South Australia and the Co-Director of UniSA’s AHURI Research Centre. She held previous academic appointments in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Stefanie’s main research interests are national planning systems; planning in multi-level governance arenas and across territorial jurisdictions; cartographic representations in spatial planning; and sustainable urban and regional development. She is the author of the monograph ‘The Visual Language of Spatial Planning’ (Routledge, 2007) and co-author of the book ‘European spatial planning and territorial cooperation’ (Routledge, 2010).