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Media Release 30 July 2019

Growth areas bear the brunt of increased commute times

New data showing that commute times have risen by 23 per cent since 2002 is no surprise for frustrated residents of Australia’s fast-growing suburbs and cities. With population growth rates double the national average, growth areas around our capital cities bear the brunt of Australia’s growing pains with inadequate infrastructure to cope with the increasing demand.

The latest annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey shows that commute times are up in almost every capital city. NGAA Chair and Mayor of the City of Playford in Adelaide’s north, Mayor Glenn Docherty, said that residents of growth areas on the outskirts of greater metropolitan areas are particularly hard hit with long commutes to get to work and basic services, more money spent on petrol and more time away from family and friends.

“Residents of new growth areas don’t have the same access to quality roads, public transport and local jobs as those living in suburbs closer to the city,” said Mayor Docherty.

“Just 31 of Australia’s 537 local government areas have accommodated 35 percent of our recent population growth. The National Growth Areas Alliance is calling for investment to match the pace of population growth with:

  • Public transport to provide access to jobs and services and take cars off the roads
  • Strategic road connections to ease congestion and open up economic opportunities
  • Job creation where the workforce lives.

“The Government’s Urban Congestion Fund is a positive step and we now need to ensure it is used in the most effective way – to fix those congestion pinch-points in growth areas that make getting to work difficult or that strand freight in traffic jams – costing business dearly.

“The lack of a planned and coordinated approach to federal infrastructure spending in the past has seen hundreds of new suburbs built without core fundamentals - including the train stations, arterial roads and community infrastructure – that they need to function and thrive,” Mayor Docherty said.

 “Governments need to catch up with population growth in our new communities. Despite accommodating over one third of population growth, only 13% of federal infrastructure funding has been directed to our outer suburbs,” Mayor Docherty said.

 “Population projections show that a further 2.5 million new residents will move into our outer suburbs over the coming 15 years, bringing the total population to over 7.5 million. Unless we catch up with our capital city growth areas, today’s data on commuting times will get worse.

“It’s time to recognise the potential of towns, cities and suburbs away from capital city CBDs to be this nation’s economic powerhouse and to catch up with the infrastructure needs of these communities before the opportunity is lost.

 “We want more jobs to be located in the fast-growing outer suburbs to reduce the need for travel and the congestion that it causes. But how can we expect businesses to invest when the infrastructure is not up to scratch?” Mayor Docherty said.

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

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