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What the Fast Growing Outer Suburbs want in 2019-20 Federal Budget

The 2019-20 Federal Budget will be handed down this evening amidst a recent flurry of funding announcements and commitments. It is worth noting that many of these are allocation of funds from the current year Budget, which contained the $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund (UCF).

We will be looking for a continuation of the UCF to help catch up with infrastructure demand in growth areas.

Members will recall the UCF was created partly in response to NGAA’s consistent call for dedicated funding for transport infrastructure in growth areas. While recent announcements indicate the UCF has been used as a discretionary fund for the Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population rather than being subject to a competitive process, it has nevertheless delivered much needed funding to a number of important projects in growth areas.

We will also be looking for funding allocations connected to the Government’s recently-released Planning for Australia’s Future Population. The Plan includes:

  • An overall reduction to migration intake, but no changes to family reunion or skilled migration numbers.
  • Continuing to address congestion and the impact on transport infrastructure of rapid population growth
  • Better coordination between levels of Government to plan and deliver policies and programs related to population growth
  • Investing in regional Australia and encouraging population and economic growth including skilled migration visas for regional areas, which includes smaller capital cities such as Adelaide.
  • Investment in community building and social support programs for new migrants.

What we’ll be looking for in tonight’s Budget:

  • Continuation of the Urban Congestion Fund
  • Establishment of the National Fast Rail Agency and funding for projects such as the $2 billion fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne
  • Transport infrastructure priorities such as Mount Barker’s Connector Road, Playford’s Curtis Road, E6 Freeway in Melbourne’s north, upgrades to the Western Hwy in Melton and freight networks in Melbourne’s west.
  • Community Infrastructure funding for recreational, health, wellbeing and early education facilities, including through a Co-Investment Community Infrastructure Fund
  • 15 hours kindergarten funding
  • Precinct development through targeted co-investment
  • City Deals – ongoing funding requirements for Western Sydney and capacity building for local governments entering into a City Deal negotiation.

As detailed in NGAA’s 2019-20 Federal Budget Submission, we sought commitments in five key areas:

1. Reform and Rebalance

  • Install a Fast Growing Outer Suburbs reference group to support the federal government’s national population growth and infrastructure planning.

2. People and Place-based Investment

  • A Co-investment Community Infrastructure Fund for Growth Areas to fill the clear and significant gap in available funding for community facilities in growth areas.
  • Commitments to ongoing service delivery for growth area communities.

3. Connect Communities

  • Target infrastructure investment, including through the Urban Congestion Fund, in key projects which connects growth area communities, unlocks productivity and brings jobs close to home including: roads of significance, commuter rail, commuter hubs, grade separation and digital infrastructure.

4. Accelerate Economic Transition

  • Provide direct funding via a co-investment model with local and state government to accelerate targeted precinct development
  • Support transformational infrastructure projects in growth areas to drive productivity and employment growth.

5. Innovate: funding, financing and governance mechanisms

  • Invest in a capacity building program for collaborating local governments to identify and prepare suitable proposals for consideration for a ‘City Deal’ project.
  • Leverage the learnings from the current City Deals to inform improved and replicable models to enhance future deals for local government, including, but not limited, to Planning Partnerships and Governance and Collaboration models.
  • Accelerate support for alternative funding and financing mechanisms including but not limited to, incentive-based payments or concessions for targeted developments, public- private partnerships, co-investment models and value capture.

We will report on outcomes for growth areas later this evening and tomorrow.

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