FAIR GO: Cities performance report is missing key indicators

A KEY report that will help the Federal Government rate the performance of cities is missing key indicators such as ambulance response times and whether councils are following their own policies. 

The National Cities Performance Framework Interim Report, which aims to measure the performance of Australia's largest cities including 16 in regional Australia, was released this week.

The report looked at cities and regions including Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Cairns and Ballarat.

Chair of lobby group Regional Capitals Australia and mayor of Greater City of Geraldton Shane Van Styn said the report was a first look at how the Federal Government would track the performance of cities across areas such as congestion, employment, housing affordability, livability and sustainability.

He said the government would use the report's findings to analyse its investments into cities as part of the Smart Cities program and in particular the Cities Deals.

The intergovernmental partnership is aimed at making cities a better place to live and do business.

But at the end of the report was a long list of indicators that were excluded because of issues of data availability, measurement and comparability.

Among those are emergency services response times, the compliance rates of councils to their own policies and how many homes are in disaster-prone areas.

Cr Van Styn said many of those indicators were excluded because groups such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics or the Census did not collect the necessary data.

He said in order for the cities to be accurately compared the data sets needed to be the same.

"The object of the Cities Reference Group is to use data that has been collected and you can't retrospectively collect data," he said.

"The data collections points are a matter for the ABS and government departments.

"It's a resourcing issue and different states have different priorities for collecting data.

"We would call on there to be more data collected."

Cr Van Styn said the report was starting to measure livability and sustainability in cities, not just factors such as congestion and housing affordability.

He said as Australia's productivity continued to be challenged by growing congestion costs and jobs losses through a transitioning economy an analysis of regional cities needed to be at top of the government's agenda.

"Regional cities have so many competitive advantages - affordable housing, access to quality health and education, a relaxed lifestyle, strong jobs offering in the service sectors, and importantly, land to grow," he said