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Watching the budget bottom line: call for infrastructure fund for outer suburbs

Published: 27 April 2016

Five million residents of fast-growing outer suburbs, including those in Cardinia Shire, could benefit from a substantial commitment to these areas in the upcoming Federal Budget.

The Fund our Future campaign is a response to mounting pressure in these communities on road congestion, inadequate public transport and poor access to health facilities. The infrastructure will be under more pressure over the next 15 years as the population reaches 7.5 million.

Already more than 25,000 emails have been sent to Canberra via Fund Our Future.

In its pre-budget submission, the group behind the campaign, the National Growth Areas Alliance, calls for a dedicated national infrastructure fund for these areas.

“Investment would provide significant jobs creation, higher tax revenues and a permanent boost to national GDP,” the submission reads.

“Rural and regional areas have been recognised through dedicated funding but outer growth area population hotspots have never benefitted from this type of approach,” it says.

It quotes an analysis carried out by SGS Economics and Planning, which shows that to catch up and then keep up with the infrastructure needs of the growing population in these areas, an investment of around $5 billion each year over the next 15 years is needed.

The economic benefits alone would include improved workforce participation, more local job opportunities and improved access to jobs and services elsewhere.

“Continued underinvestment will be catastrophic personally and for communities and businesses more broadly: increased stress, time wasted in traffic, fewer jobs and social isolation leading to divided communities,” it says.

The call is backed up by Australia’s first 15-year Infrastructure Plan which highlights the particular needs in outer growth areas.

Infrastructure Australia (IA) quoted a National Growth Areas Alliance submission calling for a “dedicated approach to population hotspots”.

In line with the NGAA’s advocacy, the 15-year plan called for governments to increase funding to address gaps in access to passenger transport on the outskirts of Australian cities.

“Investments should prioritise high-population areas and focus on the delivery of connecting transport infrastructure and services…,” the plan reads.

IA also released a separate document, the Infrastructure Priority List, with several projects from Fund our Future being earmarked.

Residents and those working in Cardinia Shire are encouraged to take part in the Fund Our Future campaign by signing and sharing our petition on the Fund Our Future website and liking the page on Facebook.