News

2 October, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

Federal Budget must reach city outskirts

The National Growth Areas Alliance, representing five million people living on the outskirts of Australia’s capital cities, is calling for the 2020-21 Budget to provide long-term support for vulnerable communities and embed spatial economic and employment shifts caused by COVID-19.

Alliance Chair, Cr Matthew Deeth of Wollondilly Shire Council, said growth areas have been hard hit by COVID-19, but also have a leading role to play in economic recovery.

‘Residents of growth areas across Australia are vulnerable right now – at a scale we aren’t seeing in other areas of the country. Our workforce of 2.2 million people has been hard hit by the recession, as there was a high reliance on retail, hospitality, trades and construction for employment.

‘Our communities are rife with mortgage and rental stress and our 1.7 million young people face narrower study and job opportunities amidst a mental health crisis.’

COVID-19 has prompted a significant spatial redistribution of employment, with vast numbers of people working productively at home. This localised model is now proven to work and could be equally applied to the delivery of skills training, higher education and business support – all key elements of outer urban and national economic recovery.

‘Continued support for those communities and sectors hardest hit by the recession is vital. If not provided we risk entrenching the inequities experienced by millions of outer suburban residents.

‘We will be hoping to see a common sense approach to embedding the positive changes outer urban residents have embraced in recent times – working from home and supporting local businesses. The Government’s JobMaker and JobTrainer programs as well as yesterday’s manufacturing strategy must be applied on an equitable geographic basis, so that growth areas - where 20 per cent of the Australian population lives – are not overlooked again.’

The Alliance’s research shows that three in five people who have been working from home in the outer suburbs during COVID-19 want to continue doing so – either full time or part-time. There are over half a million people who could work remotely from home or close to home in growth areas – putting an end to their costly nightmare commutes.

‘NGAA has long been calling for a rebalancing of Australian cities, where jobs, infrastructure and services are equally accessible to the 5 million people who live in outer urban areas. COVID-19 has kick started this process and we must not let progress peter out.

‘A sizeable shift to working from home has not only reduced congestion but has improved the lives of commuters and their families. At the same time, the inadequacy of parks, walking and bike trails, community and recreational facilities in new suburbs has become all too evident.

‘We expect this year’s Budget to set out a clear long-term path for investment in major infrastructure in our cities, and we will be looking for consistency with the many stimulus, policy and funding announcements made over recent months.

‘The Federal Government must use common sense and strategic thinking to guide the Australian economy out of recession. Maximising the 2.2 million-strong workforce and 340,000 small businesses in outer urban growth areas to rev up the national economy is an opportunity too good to lose,’ Cr Deeth said.

Contact: Bronwen Clark, Executive Officer National Growth Areas Alliance – 0448 401 257

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