Brisbane is Queensland’s capital with an enviable lifestyle and growing international economy. A vibrant hub of economic, cultural and community activity, it draws businesses to invest, skilled workers to access job opportunities, international students to study and visitors to experience the natural environment and available entertainment.
Brisbane is the main gateway to the South East Queensland (SEQ) region, a diverse region that will continue to grow and experience change during the decades ahead.
The SEQ region is a combination of heavily urbanized coastal areas separated by inter-urban breaks with semi-rural, rural and landscape areas in the west and south-west. Brisbane is the primary hub for employment, health, education and other services supported by a network of regionally significant activity centers in other Local Government Areas (LGAs).
SEQ is one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia. The Greater Brisbane metropolitan area includes the LGAs of Brisbane City, Moreton Bay Region, Redland City, Logan City and Ipswich City. Seventy-two per cent of Queensland’s population lives in SEQ, making it the most important region in the state. Thirty-four per cent of SEQ population lives in Brisbane, which has one council body.
During the next 20 years, population growth will change markedly across key regions within SEQ. The Brisbane LGAs' share is likely to fall while greater growth occurs in the key satellite cities of Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Logan. However, employment growth is expected to remain strong in the Brisbane Central Business District (CBD) and surrounding inner precincts.
The regional plan, ShapingSEQ, takes a long-term view of planning for greater Brisbane and the SEQ region, aligning growth with infrastructure planning. With robust growth projected to 2035, the focus is on the existing urban footprint and specific areas of greenfield expansion.
ShapingSEQ brings together all levels of government involved in land-use and infrastructure planning so that critical infrastructure can be built to support housing supply and affordable living.
Brisbane’s housing is predominantly suburban, with low- and medium-density housing. Forward planning seeks a balance between outward expansion and urban consolidation, promoting growth focused within the existing urban footprint to enable more efficient use of existing infrastructure, better access to employment, services and a wider range of lifestyles.
The Brisbane City Plan 2014 prioritizes higher-density development in growth nodes aligned to transport corridors and public transport, as well as creating urban villages in its metropolitan area.
The plan promotes housing diversity supporting aging-in-place and assisted living and housing suited to households on different incomes, within each neighbourhood and across the city. Specific affordable housing targets are not set in planning policy but potential locations are set out through zoning and neighbourhood plans, with high-density areas requiring affordable housing as part of the housing mixture of housing types. The emphasis is on promoting missing middle forms of housing and living affordability.
The Queensland Housing Strategy 2017–2027 provides a framework for key reforms and targeted investment including provision of new social housing. It aims to deliver housing to support urban renewal, generate new jobs, provide affordable housing and drive innovative housing design that responds to contemporary housing needs.
Brisbane’s mean housing prices are considerably lower than those of Sydney and Melbourne.
Brisbane’s subtropical climate and outdoor lifestyle is reflected in the quality of public spaces including South Bank, City Botanical Gardens, Roma Street Parklands, the Riverwalk along Brisbane River, and the bayside parks. Brisbane City Council (BCC) has developed an implementation plan (the River's Edge Strategy 2013) for a world-class network of river access infrastructure for residents and tourists to enjoy the river. Although high-quality urban spaces are provided in the inner city, many middle and outer suburban areas lack quality spaces for community interaction.
Brisbane’s City Plan 2014 and the Buildings that Breathe Guidelines deal with appropriate design of the public realm for the subtropical climate, including shading, zones for deep planting of canopy trees, and semi-outdoor “City Rooms” that provide places for people to meet. Managing the urban heat island effects, especially in future climate scenarios of more days above 35 degrees Celsius, will be particularly important for the future livability of Brisbane and supporting its outdoor lifestyle. Streetscape hierarchy is clearly defined in the Brisbane City Plan and includes subtropical boulevards on key pedestrian routes. Guidance on design quality could be strengthened to ensure the character of this growing city is maintained and enhanced.
Brisbane is Australia’s most biodiverse city. Inter-Urban Breaks are defined in the ShapingSEQ, which prevents urban coalescence of Brisbane with the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south.
Brisbane’s livability is defined by its subtropical climate and its setting on the Brisbane River, waterways, Moreton Bay (a Ramsar wetland site of international significance, Moreton Island and Quandamooka Country) and surrounding mountains, forests and reserves.
Green linkages along waterways help catchment management (water quality and ecology) but also provide recreation through walk and cycle ways. Brisbane’s growth presents opportunities to improve access and activity along the river and to provide improvements to existing green space.
Brisbane’s Infrastructure Plan includes green space as key infrastructure to sustain the economy, the community and the environment. As Brisbane transitions from a suburban to urban form with higher densities, it is critical that it maintains urban green space to support its citizens’ lifestyle and the high-quality environment.
The Outdoor Recreation Management Strategy for Brisbane’s Natural Areas 2011-2021 ensures outdoor recreation activities within Brisbane's natural areas can continue to meet the demands of a growing community while protecting the values of these areas.
The Queensland Infrastructure Plan sets out the priorities for infrastructure delivery in Brisbane and SEQ, including investment in schools, hospitals and public transport.
BCC is largely responsible for providing publicly-funded community infrastructure, including community service facilities such as centers, halls and libraries, sport and recreation hubs and art and cultural hubs. The Queensland State Government provides major health and education facilities, major cultural venues including the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum, State Library, and major sporting facilities. Collaboration is required between the various levels of government, the community and private sector to deliver future infrastructure to support Brisbane’s growth.
It is important that Brisbane’s growth links planning and infrastructure delivery to prevent spatial disadvantage. Decentralized suburban renewal — creating major centers and urban villages — will be important to ensure people have access to services, local employment opportunities, housing and transport choice, irrespective of where they live.
Brisbane’s Infrastructure Plan proposes colocating some new principal and district community hubs in the middle and outer areas of Brisbane, which include a mix of arts, community facilities, arts/cultural and library services. Investment is planned in sports and recreation facilities for these parts of the city. Future expansion is proposed for the Southbank and Brisbane’s main cultural precinct.
The state government is planning new health precincts and childcare and education infrastructure to support Brisbane and SEQ’s growth. Brisbane’s universities are also undergoing master planning and expansion to accommodate growth and innovative ways of offering tertiary education.
Queensland already feels the effects of extreme weather including tropical cyclones, floods, heatwaves and bushfires. The frequency and severity of these events is predicted to increase. SEQ is a hotspot for climate change risk because of projected extreme weather — floods, cyclones and storms, drought, heatwaves and rising sea levels — coupled with projected population growth.
Brisbane is built on a floodplain. A large proportion of the Brisbane area is already at risk from flooding or sea level rise and bushfire. It is imperative that future urban development and infrastructure is focused on minimizing these risks.
Natural hazards, risk and resilience are matters of state interest under the Queensland State Planning Policy. ShapingSEQ focuses on disaster risk management planning, adaptation strategies and avoidance of exposure to high-risk areas to minimize vulnerability to climate change impacts. It recognizes that community infrastructure should be located and designed to maintain the required level of functionality during and immediately after a natural hazard event.
Queensland is the highest Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emitting state in Australia and the transition towards low-carbon solutions has been slow. The 2017 Climate Change Transition Strategy sets clear targets for GHG reductions of 30 per cent by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050. It sets out actions for a range of industries and institutions, but Brisbane is reliant on an energy sector that is dominated by coal without a defined strategy for transition.
BCC achieved carbon-neutral status in line with the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) in 2016 to 2017, making it one of Australia’s largest carbon-neutral organizations and one of the nation’s largest purchasers of green power.
State and local government town planning mechanisms are not required to meet sustainability performance standards to drive energy efficiency or carbon reductions in the built environment, meaning a default to minimum compliance standards. The Queensland Climate Change Strategy seeks to address this. The Buildings that Breathe Guidelines and the Queensland Smart Design Guidelines point the way on designing for the subtropical climate.
Historically, greater focus has been on localized widenings and upgrades to relieve pressure points in the road network.
The need for expansion in public transport infrastructure is now being addressed. The Queensland Government has committed to fully fund the Cross River Rail Project and funding has been provided to support the delivery of Brisbane Metro, which will enhance public transport capacity, travel times and reliability along the length of the South East Busway.
Transport choice and public transport capacity is focused on the Brisbane CBD. Away from the city center, public transport capacity is focused on the limited heavy rail network and busways with a disparate bus network covering suburbs and broader catchments.
Brisbane is not serviced by light rail but a light rail system that links to the heavy rail network has been established on the Gold Coast.
A comprehensive and mostly aligned transport vision is defined in both Connecting SEQ and BCC’s Transport Plan for the city. It places a greater emphasis on developing public transport links within and to Brisbane with some rail-oriented projects in the pipeline.
There are no substantial proposals for high-speed rail, but funding has been provided to investigate faster rail between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
About 95 per cent of the port’s container trade is presently handled by road, making this form of transport a key consideration in the development of current and future land use. Road transport within SEQ presently remains the most effective and cost-efficient mode of transporting export and import containers to and from the port, when compared with rail (over shorter distances).
The Port of Brisbane is the third largest port in Australia and the largest general cargo port in Queensland. In 2002, the Queensland Government constructed the Port of Brisbane Motorway (PoBM) as part of its long-term plan to meet the transport needs of the Port of Brisbane and Australia TradeCoast, and further upgraded the PoBM in 2013 to service growing freight volumes. The Gateway Motorway provides a more direct connection for freight travelling by road to and from the airport.
Given that road congestion in SEQ is predicted to increase, the rail disadvantage could shrink, leading to more long-haul freight moving to rail, particularly where improved rail freight infrastructure and services are provided. The Queensland Government acknowledges the benefits of an inland railway by potentially connecting to the Port of Brisbane. It would support the future national freight task as well as providing a long-term rail solution for exports via the West Moreton Rail System.
Freight routes and curfews have been implemented to reduce disruption.
Dedicated freight routes to avoid commuter train lines are noted in Moving Freight, Transport and Main Roads, December 2013.
The government-approved 2014 Airport Master Plan developed by the Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) guides all development at the airport for the next 20 years, covering passenger growth, job creation and the construction of the new runway, as well as investment in other aviation infrastructure, roads and terminals. In conjunction with the Master Plan, BAC also prepared an Airport Environment Strategy and a Ground Transport Plan.
Brisbane's New Runway is recognised as a key driver in the long-term growth of Brisbane and Queensland by creating jobs, opportunities for new destinations and a greater choice of airlines. At a total cost of around CAD1.3 billion, it is the biggest aviation project under construction in Australia and when complete will give Brisbane the most efficient runway system in the country.
By effectively doubling capacity, it will enable continued growth bringing more flights, more choice and better service for all our business and leisure travel.
The Australian and Queensland Governments are funding a joint study for the Port of Brisbane, which focuses on improving rail freight connections to cope with future demand.
A new cruise ship terminal is also being constructed.
The Brisbane Active Transport Strategy 2012–2026 outlines targets for mode share by cyclists and walking. It includes plans to develop the commuter cycling network and continue to create a network of high-quality cycle paths with separation from cars and pedestrians in high-use areas. As part of the strategy, Brisbane is looking to complete planning for a Brisbane Bicycle Infrastructure Plan, which will outline the infrastructure requirements of its bikeway network.
The consideration of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is a prerequisite for all transit and road infrastructure design projects across Brisbane.
Queensland development codes require end-of-trip facilities to be installed for all new major developments and big additions to major developments in designated LGAs. The facilities must be provided in accordance with prescribed workforce or occupant ratios.
The state government does not support shared space, pedestrian priority zones or low-speed zones as a policy position, but, alongside local government agencies, promotes their implementation where appropriate with reduced speed zones introduced in key activity centers, the CBD and school zones. Guidance for shared space is defined in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
BCC recognizes the opportunity to relax parking rates in locations where users have a reduced reliance on personal vehicles. The Brisbane City Plan 2014 describes maximum parking rates for multiple dwellings located within the center or core of Brisbane. Reductions to maximum parking rates are also described for centrally-serviced locations and areas well served by public transport.
Parking reform is being investigated and initiatives such as parking levies and shared parking facilities are being considered.
BCC is actively looking to overhaul the city’s planning rules to allow incentives for developers to include car-sharing arrangements in new residential buildings.
Time-of-day priced parking is commonplace across the CBD and in many activity centers around Brisbane.
The council recently undertook a review of parking technology to understand where emerging technology and current infrastructure could be used to deliver better parking outcomes. No firm policy changes have occurred because of this work.
The state’s Connected and Automated Vehicles Initiative is looking to draft policy, support regulation, licensing and possible certification and manage infrastructure technology integration. The state is also looking to understand the potential of this technology and Queensland’s role within the industry.
As part of this commitment, the Queensland Government has launched The Future is Electric: Queensland's Electric Vehicle Strategy. A key feature of this strategy is the Queensland Electric Super Highway, the world’s longest electric fast-charging highway in a single state. The Queensland Government in collaboration with local councils and other partners is rolling out the Queensland Electric Super Highway to encourage, support and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in Queensland. Eighteen charge stations are being introduced.
The state government has put out a Queensland Drones Strategy consultation paper to start the discussion around how Queenslanders can take advantage of this technology.
Queensland has introduced a Personalized Transport Register, which allows the public to access details of approved booked hire service licenses and booking entity authorizations for the taxi, ride-booking and limousine industries.
The Q-Portal established by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) supports free access to state-owned transport data by software developers, promoting innovation and open collaboration with industry.
The Queensland Government is introducing reforms for the personalized transport industry that will promote greater choice for customers, while ensuring safety, accessibility, affordability and accountability for everyone. Following legislative changes implemented in 2017 the government is reviewing the draft framework.
Ride-sharing services such as Uber need to be licensed and pay annual license fees in Queensland.
TMR TransLink division is investigating Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) through an analysis of the supply market and DRT trials that leverage industry and technology to meet community passenger transport needs. Recent trials were completed in the City of Logan.
Well-developed physical and digital infrastructure affects productivity directly by connecting economic agents, reducing transaction costs, easing the effects of distance and time, facilitating the flow of information, and facilitating integration of markets into global value chains. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are becoming increasingly important: there is growing empirical literature on how ICTs facilitate innovation and impact firm and country productivity by giving decision-makers more complete information.
The City of Brisbane’s Digital Brisbane strategy outlines how to identify which services and programs should be delivered digitally in future. The creation and publication of this comprehensive document is an important indicator of the maturity of Brisbane’s approach to using technology for the betterment of its citizens’ lives. Brisbane was the first Australian city, and the second one worldwide, to appoint a Chief Digital Officer and implement a digital transformation strategy for the city.
Traditionally, wired internet services have been provided via copper wires initially designed to support landlines. Fiber optic cable, capable of supporting much higher bandwidth for multiple users, is replacing copper wires in most countries. It's made from glass and uses light to transmit data over long distances. It is far superior to copper wire and is essential to support both consumers and businesses as we become more dependent on our ability to receive and transmit large volumes of rich media content and information.
Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) is superior to Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN). The latter uses copper wires from the street to the business or home and fiber to the street only. The installation of either version of fiber is a critical element in facilitating digital connectivity.
Under the Australian National Broadband Network, Brisbane, and Australia, is mostly receiving FTTH.
Each new generation of cellular technologies has brought greater functionality available in more places with faster access to information. In almost all cases these improvements have been accompanied by decreasing access and usage costs resulting in mobile devices becoming an essential and ubiquitous tool for communications, content digestion and content creation. The evolutionary 5G will give wireless broadband the capacity it needs to power thousands of connected devices that will reach our homes and workplaces.
Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network radio technology standard developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. It is the backbone of the Internet of Things (IoT). NB-IoT focuses specifically on indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and enabling a multitude of connected devices. The move towards autonomous vehicles and connected infrastructure will make reliable, robust access and connectivity essential.
As more people and devices are being connected and depend on the internet, the complementary wireless technologies of 5G and NB-IoT will become redefined as part and parcel of critical infrastructure.
The availability of Wi-Fi is essential for both personal and business applications. Many cities recognize this and provide free public Wi-Fi access both through commercial providers such as telcos and businesses (such as cafes) as well as by the responsible authority themselves. Regardless of who is providing the free public Wi-Fi, access and availability enables citizens and visitors to easily access a range of services at no cost.
Brisbane City Council provides a free Wi-Fi service.
Open Data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. There is a global movement in developed countries for governments at all levels to make their vast amounts of public data freely available.
This move can facilitate government transparency, accountability and public participation. The opening of official information can also support technological innovation and economic growth by enabling third parties to develop new kinds of digital applications and services.
Open government applications seek to empower citizens, to help small businesses, or to create value in some other positive, constructive way. The City of Brisbane, Queensland Government and the Australian Government all provide open data.
Citizens using services, and especially government services, must have confidence that any information they provide is confidential and stored appropriately, that the system they’re using is safe and secure, that they know how their information will be used and that they can easily retrieve any information they provide. If a service cannot guarantee confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system, people will not use it.
The presence of strong legislative and regulatory forms of protection for data security and privacy is essential to sustain confidence and usage of online sites and information. Australia and the Queensland Government have comprehensive security and privacy legislation.
Brisbane’s Digital Strategy provides the overarching framework for digital transformation, guiding the approach that will be taken and articulating the things that need to be considered and achieved to be successful. It recognizes the necessity of robust, reliable secure infrastructure and connectivity to ensure that the vision is possible.
The existence of this strategy together with the political support evident in producing and implementing it is a positive indicator of future readiness.
Like all Australia’s east coast cities, Brisbane has been hampered by policy uncertainty over the past decade. The energy grid in Queensland relies on coal-fired power stations, with the Clean Energy Regulator placing Queensland as the highest emitter of CO2 by volume in 2016 to 2017 in Australia.
Policy uncertainty on climate change mitigation has led to an under-investment in new generation infrastructure to replace ageing power stations, although Australia is well on track to meet its Renewable Energy Target obligations of 33,000GWh by 2020.
The private sector in Queensland has led innovation in the energy sector, particularly with rooftop solar systems.
The BCC’s 2017 Plan: Brisbane. Clean. Green. Sustainable, highlights key initiatives for the city. However, it is not linked to comparable benchmarks or have a specific renewable target. There is an opportunity for Brisbane to decarbonize its energy systems and encourage a smart grid that can manage demand, embed high proportions of renewable energy and maintain reliability. Queensland is also addressing clean energy through their Powering Queensland Plan, which includes a target to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, to reduce emissions and act on climate change, create new jobs and diversify the state’s economy. The state is also looking at new policy around waste, thereby encouraging other forms of energy generation from waste.
Expenditure in Brisbane over the last decade has been largely driven by a drought leading to low levels in the major water storages. This resulted in CAD8 billion being invested in water infrastructure (desalination, recycled water scheme), with this debt transferred to the bulk water supplier, Seqwater. Several system interconnections to the north and south of Brisbane are strained and need solutions to be planned.
The major water source for Brisbane, the Wivenhoe dam, was initially built as a flood mitigation dam and dam levels are not managed for water security and water quality alone. During the drought, the average water consumption target was 140 L/day/person and the lowest usage recorded was 108 L/day/person. This is considered in the realm of world’s best practice usage levels. Since the end of the drought, consumption has increased again to a current usage of 165 L/day/person.
The catchments are rated D+. In the past year, the overall condition of central catchments decreased slightly, ranging from poor to good. High levels of pollutants were generated from extensive urban areas. This will likely increase with continuing urbanization.
Effective erosion and sediment control on construction sites is therefore vital to protect the overall health of waterways into the future. Residents greatly enjoy using the creeks, rivers and Moreton Bay for leisure activities, but the community lacks an emotional connection with waterways and needs motivating to protect them.
Some grazing lands and natural bush/forested areas remain in the upper parts of the catchment but riparian vegetation has been cleared from most waterways. During and after storms a huge volume of stormwater runs off into the waterways.
Key challenges are the management of catchments and improving the catchment quality rating, and dealing with population growth and climate change.
Brisbane’s sewerage infrastructure needs big capital expenditure. Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU), which manages the sewerage collection and treatment systems for Brisbane, has a 10-year capital expenditure budget of CAD1.2 billion for sewerage networks, CAD500 million on sewage treatment plants and CAD250 million on water reticulation. Increases in user charges are not considered a suitable mechanism to recoup these costs so QUU’s ability to fully cost recover this infrastructure investment is limited.
Strategic asset management of old infrastructure is the key to the financial management of this capital works budget.
The priorities will be around healthy waterways, river water quality and minimizing surcharges. Challenges lie in the population growth and urbanization of the population.
BCC, like many other metropolitan councils, has looked to include waste management objectives and occasionally initiatives within its long-term strategic plan. The Brisbane. Clean, Green and Sustainable 2017–2031 plan outlines education, diversion from landfill and resource recovery initiatives as the primary waste management goals. Backing the BCC plan is the Queensland Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy 2014–2024, which has facilitated mechanisms such as the End of Waste Framework that promote resource reuse across the state.
Although infrastructure investment has been made through the BCC collection contract, most of this provision relates to facility upgrade and future technology review. Limited funding for new infrastructure or improved waste disposal technologies has been made. Funding associated with proposed levy allocation is visible but this relates to Queensland in its entirety, not just BCC. Limited evidence is available to support strategic waste infrastructure planning or attempts to improve resource recovery via the procurement process.
Landfill remains the dominant waste management solution with significant capacity located outside the city. Collaborative disposal will need to be a consideration for BCC soon with limited new landfill space available within the metropolitan boundary.
Efforts have been made to carve out a waste and resource recovery strategy for Brisbane, although neither the city council nor the state government has made a financial commitment. Consideration of population growth and future waste management service needs are required to cope with the rapidly increasing densification.