The Abbott government spent $11,000 printing the 2014 State of Australian Cities report but has refused to distribute it, evidence before a Senate Budget Estimates committee has revealed.
Opposition spokesman on cities Anthony Albanese said evidence showed the government entered into an $11,000 contract to publish the report in December last year, and that the report had been printed, but the government had subsequently ordered officials not to distribute it.
Appearing before the Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Regional Affairs and Transport committee, Infrastructure Department Secretary Mike Mrdak said the report had been printed but not distributed.
“We may need to junk them. They are gathering dust,” he told the committee.
This is despite Mr Mrdak previously stating in Senate Estimates on four separate occasions that the report would be published.
The report has not been made available online either.
Mr Albanese said the government’s refusal to distribute the document showed an “ongoing disinterest in developing policies to improve the efficiency of Australian cities”.
“This is an absurd waste of public money,” he said. “The 2014 report should have been finalised and distributed in 2014.
“The Abbott Government has no urban policy and has raised the white flag on addressing urban congestion by slashing billions of dollars of investment earmarked for public transport projects.
“Upon taking office, it also scrapped its Major Cities Unit, which was responsible for producing the State of Australian Cities report.”
The annual report provides a snapshot of Australian cities, detailing changes in demographics and an analysis of indicators covering productivity, sustainability and liveability.
The 2013 report was downloaded three million times.