Funding needed for more opportunity in outer suburbs: NGAA Congress

Politicians, policy makers, planners, developers and academics shared a common theme that the outer suburbs deserved a fair go at the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) Congress in Perth.

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese was amongst the speakers at the event, which had the theme Building the outer suburbs of the future. He said that “we need to unlock the enormous potential of our outer suburbs”.

“Instead of sitting back to see where the houses go up, we should be using infrastructure to guide growth in our outer suburbs,” Mr Albanese, who is also the Shadow Minister for Cities, told the Congress.

“Business as usual won’t work as a strategy for dealing with this challenge (of outer suburbs).

“We need to think of new ways to ensure people don’t need to spend as long commuting to and from work,” he said. “Part of this involves improving both public transport and its facilities in these locations.”

Both he and the WA Liberal Member of Parliament Ian Goodenough congratulated the NGAA on its recent campaign for fair go for outer suburbs, Fund our Future.

In his presentation, Mr Goodenough also encouraged members to keep pursuing the case for a fair go for outer suburbs.

He said Federal Cabinet has considered a fund for the outer suburbs. The comment came on the heels of the NGAA-led Fund our Future campaign, which called for a fund to fix the multi-billion dollar infrastructure backlog in the outer suburbs.

He said that local councils should work together to form alliances to prosecute their case.

Other highlights of the two-day Congress, hosted by the City of Wanneroo in Perth’s north, included a keynote by futurist and economist Brian Haratsis.

Mr Haratsis said current planning promotes “dormitory suburbs” and we need to think about equity, employment, e-services and education to change their direction.

To encourage local jobs, Mr Haratsis, from the property advisory consultancy MacroPlan Dimasi, says the focus needs to be on growing high productivity jobs in outer suburbs, particularly in small and medium sized businesses. He urged councils to mandate the number of local jobs when approving developments.

Two West Australian academics gave a rallying cry for the outer suburbs, declaring the concept of there being “nothingness in suburbia” as a dangerous one.

Drs Kirsten Martinus and Paul Maginn and from the University of Western Australia said that 86 percent of Australians live in suburbs and of the population growth, 70 percent is in the outer suburbs.

Both argued the outer suburbs matter economically, socially and politically and that it was time to “make outer suburbia great again”.

The Congress also heard about the work being done on City Deals by the Council of Mayors South East Queensland, Victoria's Growing Suburbs Fund and collaboration on peri urban development.

The NGAA Awards were also held as part of the Congress.

Picture caption: (l-r) Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Cities, Anthony Albanese and Chair of the NGAA Mayor Glenn Docherty