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CANBERRA, AAP – A Labor federal government would pursue a plan to revive Australia’s city centres as part of a national urban policy.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese believes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, the need for federal engagement in urban policy is greater than ever.

“We will look to sign new city partnerships that meet the needs of local communities based on local understanding and transparent criteria,” Mr Albanese told the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney on Wednesday.

“Secondly, we need a plan to revive our CBDs, not just a generic plea for workers to go back to their desks.”

He noted that, according to the Grattan Institute, 50 per cent of the new jobs generated in the past decade were in the centres of Sydney and Melbourne.

“We need our cities to be at the frontier of dynamism and innovation.”

He described the Morrison government’s approach to cities policy as “cynical pork-barrelling”, saying its urban congestion fund has delivered much more to advertising executives than suburban commuters.

“The result: no busting of congestion, no lifting of productivity and no confidence that there’s a government on the side of suburban commuters too often battling nightmare commutes,” Mr Albanese said.

He said the government has allowed former Liberal prime minister’s Malcolm Turnbull’s city deals with state and local governments to “wither on the vine”, with the result that little of value has been achieved.

“Labor takes a different approach,” he said.

“We understand the importance of well-functioning cities for Australia’s economy and for the jobs, livelihoods, and quality of life of Australians. This will be one of my priorities as Labor leader.”