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Five million people with Nightmare Commutes get a win in Federal Budget

The challenges of responding to rapid population growth in the outer suburbs of Australia’s capital cities play a starring role in the 2019-20 Federal Budget.

Mayor Glenn Docherty (Playford, SA), Chair of the National Growth Areas Alliance which represents 21 Councils in fast growing outer suburbs, welcomed the long overdue focus on urban infrastructure.

“We are delighted with the $4 billion allocation to the Urban Congestion Fund, which we see as a direct response to the infrastructure backlog in the outer suburbs. Five million people already live in Australia’s fast growing outer suburbs and another 2.5 million are expected by 2031,” he said.

“We have a long list of congestion busting projects ready to go, all of which will dramatically improve the liveability and productivity of Australia’s outer suburbs.

“The $1 billion currently being distributed through the Fund in the lead-up to the May election is fixing the worst congestion points in some outer suburban councils. But outside of the election cycle, there must be a transparent process to allocate the Urban Congestion Fund.”

The Alliance welcomes a cross-portfolio response to population growth, and sees community and social cohesion funding as an important opportunity to resource local government to build strong and resilient communities.

“Large, energetic populations in the outer suburbs, including 1.2 million children and thousands of babies born every week, deserve access to sport, cultural, educational and social facilities no matter their postcode.

“The omission of additional funding for community infrastructure in growth areas will limit the impact of social cohesion efforts.

“There is an obvious gap in funding for sports and recreation facilities, community centres and health and wellbeing hubs in areas where populations are growing at double the national rate,” Mayor Docherty said.

“With 135,000 people moving into Alliance member Council areas every year, there is a desperate need to build new, or expand existing community facilities, as well as create jobs in outer suburban areas where 1 in 5 Australians live.

“The fact that the Government has realised they need to catch up with the outer suburbs is very positive, but it will be some time before these funding announcements trickle down to have an effect on the daily lives of our residents.

“National Nightmare Commute Day tomorrow, Thursday 4 April, will give those five million outer-suburbanites the chance to have their voice heard, as well as their stories of nightmare commutes. We hope to encourage whichever side forms Government after the May election to get a move on and catch up with the outer suburbs,” he said.

The National Growth Areas Alliance represents 21 councils in the fast growing outer suburbs where one in five Australians live. Alliance members have shared experiences of population growth at double the national average, without sufficient investment in supporting infrastructure.

Media contact: Bronwen Clark, Executive Officer, 0448 401 257

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