Australian Cities – Places for People

In our rapidly changing world, cities are more important than ever before. Cities are where people and organisations come together, where investments are made, where new ideas are formed, where jobs are created and where lives are lived. In one of the most urbanised countries in the world, Australia’s capital cities are home to:

  • 16.6 million people – more than two thirds of our population.
  • 8.7 million workers in our capital cities (69% of Australia’s workforce), producing 70% of our GDP – which accounts for almost one thousand two hundred billion dollars of economic activity during 2016-17.
  • It is expected that some 15 million more people will be living in our capital cities by the second half of this century. During the last decade capital cities grew by 2.9 million people – marking 77% of Australia’s total population growth.
  • Australia’s projected population is expected to reach 41.5m by 2061

The pressures and changing needs that result from a growing population, and the impacts of a changing climate and an evolving global economy, will challenge our cities like never before. The risk is that, if left unchecked, our quality of life will drop and our city economies will become less productive.


To keep our cities among the world’s most liveable we must adapt quickly to the new challenges and pressures that face us. Local, state and federal governments need to work together, with businesses, educational institutions, community organisations and city residents to ensure the long-term prosperity, liveability and sustainability of our cities, to support the choice people make to live in Australia’s cities.

Australia’s capital city Lord Mayors are committed to advancing the shared interests of our great cities. Now is the time for all levels of government to seize the opportunities and put in place the actions that will shape Australia in the years and decades ahead.

The CCCLM stands ready to work with the Federal and State Governments to ensure the sustainable growth of our cities and support the prosperity of all Australia.

Cities Matter to our National Economy

Strong city economies are crucial to a strong national economy and our cities are where Australia’s future jobs are being created. As jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors decline, jobs in health, education, advanced manufacturing and professional service sectors grow.

‘Knowledge sector’ jobs will drive Australia’s future economy and the vast majority of these new jobs are based in our capital cities. Cities are also our country’s educational hubs – capital cities host the majority of our universities, including the ‘group of 8’ institutions and almost 80 per cent of all tertiary and university students study in our capital cities.

To make the most of these changing circumstances, cities need to work with all levels of government and many private and public sector stakeholders to create the environment where businesses and other important institutions can thrive. This includes investing a lot more in the infrastructure that cities need to support growing populations and that will help business in our cities to thrive.

Cities need investment in Infrastructure to thrive


Our capital city infrastructure is stretched as populations grow and more people and businesses vie to use our public transport systems and roads to get around and transport goods. People face longer travel times between homes and work, education and services and these delays lose our city economics value time and money.

Average commuting times in capital cities have increased by 20 per cent over the last decade.

Urban congestion cost the Australian economy almost $14 billion in 2011 and is forecast to increase to more than $53 billion by around 2030.

It is a very long time since most of our capital cities were established, planned and built and we need to think about what needs to change to ensure they are equipped for a very different future. Significant investment in key pieces of transport infrastructure across the country will not only boost local city economies in each location, helping business activity and employment growth, but bring economic benefits to the whole country.

Cities need to be climate resilient

Australian cities are vulnerable to a number of natural disasters – rising sea levels, flooding in low lying areas, extreme heat conditions and extreme weather events.

Since 2001, the number of extreme heat records in Australia has outnumbered extreme cool records by almost 3 to 1 on daytime maximum temperatures.

Estimates are that in 2012 alone, the total economic cost of natural disasters in Australia exceeded $6 billion. Without action, natural disasters could cost Australia $23 billion a year by 2050.

Cities are where the climate crisis can be averted. Our capital cities can take crucial local action to manage the impacts of climate change, working with city residents and businesses to deliver and manage the infrastructure, industries and actions we need to manage and protect against harsh climate conditions and extreme events.

By working together, all levels of Australian government can ensure that Australia’s cities are strong and resilient, offering a quality of life that city residents today and future generations of city dwellers can enjoy.