Conference paper
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Abstract: The focus of this paper is a comparison of the history of the governance of regional public land acquisition in Perth and Sydney, with the case for the selection of these two cities established by a contrast of the planning approaches used. Specifically the paper aims to review the governance approaches and planning tools utilised in the two cities for the acquisition of regional public land, in particular for open space purposes – and to present the case for the extension of the model used in Perth - the Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax (MRIT). Contextualisation is provided by a consideration of initial ad hoc efforts to reclaim land for regional public purposes following the original alienation of Crown Land, and an overview of the introduction of metropolitan planning schemes and supporting legislation. Regional public land acquisition in Perth and Sydney are examined in detail. In the case of Perth, this includes an analysis of pre-Metropolitan Region Scheme (MRS) private land acquisition for regional public purposes, the introduction of the MRS and Metropolitan Region Planning Authority (MRPA), and the establishment of a ‘hypothecated’ (pledged) tax for regional public land acquisition – the Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax. Collection and management/spending of the tax are examined to demonstrate its success as a public land acquisition tool. A similar temporal approach is taken for the consideration of regional public land acquisition in Sydney, beginning with the situation prior to the County of Cumberland Plan and subsequent metropolitan plans for Sydney. Funding arrangements such as the Cumberland Development Fund, Sydney Region Development Fund, and Metropolitan Greenspace Program and betterment tax schemes such as the failed Land Development Contribution Management Act 1970 are examined. The main outcome of the comparison and contrast of the approaches taken in Perth and Sydney is the case for the extension of an improved ‘Perth model’ of the MRIT, to other Australian capital cities. The benefit, from the perspective of the implementation of public policy and strategic metropolitan planning, of the availability and utilisation of a hypothecated tax for public land acquisition, is a key conclusion of this paper.

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