City Deals: Old Wine in New Bottles?

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


The Turnbull-Morrison governments’ City Deals currently represent Australia’s major urban policy under the umbrella term Smart Cities Plan. Both the City Deals and the Smart Cities Plan have been in place since early 2016. This round of national urban policy was orchestrated by Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull is an urbanist, politically and personally. His wife, Lucy Turnbull, is an ex-lord mayor of the City of Sydney Commission – a metropolitan planning agency – since 2015. Immediately after Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in September 2015, Turnbull appointed the first minister for cities in Australian history, Jamie Briggs. Briggs’ short-lived ministership has so far been succeeded by three ministers for cities – Angus Taylor, Paul Fletcher and Alan Tudge. If Turnbull’s ill-fated prime ministership has some significant policy legacies, then City Deals is one of them.

In this chapter, City Deals are analysed from multiple perspectives. I first provide an overview of the City Deals agreed and announced so far, including their visions, associated projects, time lines and locations. I then compare City Deals in the United Kingdom and Australia, given the policy transfer between the two nations, to identify commonalities and differences (Marsh & Evans 2012). All the City Deals in Australia have a central objective of economic growth and reform through pursuing place-based innovation. I thus dissect the imperative for an innovation-led national economic transition in Australia, to understand why City Deals have been charged with a mission of developing a knowledge economy. Finally, I critically examine to what extent the City Deals are a policy innovation, as claimed by Turnbull in his farewell speech, and argue that they are simply common national urban policies – old wine in new bottles.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Turnbull to Morrison: The Trust Divide
EditorsMark Evans, Michelle Grattan, Brendan McCaffrie
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherMelbourne University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780522876147
ISBN (Print)9780522876130
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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