The Australian Greens have called for better planning and transport infrastructure to help avoid urban sprawl as the nation's population grows.
Greens public transport, housing and sustainable cities spokesperson, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said authorities need to work together to plan sustainable cities.
"The National Institute of Labour Studies reported that Sydney and Melbourne will need more than 430,000ha of new land by 2050 on current migration levels - but this is also based on current building and planning practices," said Senator Ludlam. "We need to develop more medium and high density energy-efficient housing in our cities, with improved public transport to reduce congestion and the need for parking space."
"Better urban planning will reduce urban sprawl, protect valuable agricultural land, take the upwards pressure off housing prices and reduce the reliance on cars for transport."
Senator Ludlam said the Greens ‘Convert-To-Rent' initiative, which offers incentives to owners to make unused properties available for low-cost housing, could be a big part of the solution.
"On recent figures, there were 167,000 vacant properties in Sydney and Melbourne. There are now 50,000 empty properties in Perth. How can we be talking about the ‘need' for urban sprawl while up to 10 per cent of metropolitan properties are vacant?" he said.
Senator Ludlam said state governments need to review their infill development targets to better use vacant land already zoned for development within metropolitan areas.
"Perth's current infill development is 30% to 35%. The 47% infill target in the West Australian Government's ‘Directions 2031' plan is basically only a 50% improvement on business as usual. The previous WA Government's ‘Network City' target of 60% was far closer to what we need," he said.
"Medium and high density city housing, if properly serviced by local amenities, public parks and public transport, can solve the urban sprawl problem without reducing people's quality of life."