A campaign supporting the lobbying efforts of the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire councils for federal funding to upgrade Thompsons Road has found “unrealised opportunities” in the re-elected Coalition Government’s commitments for the outer suburbs.
The Fund Our Future campaign’s petition, led by the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA), closed on the eve of Federal Election Day, having received more than 100,000 emails nation-wide supporting the need for a national dedicated infrastructure fund to address the chronic infrastructure problems in fast-growing outer suburban areas like Casey and Cardinia.
While no such fund was promised, commitments such as the Western Sydney City Deal would benefit Australian outer suburbs in other states.
But NGAA executive officer Ruth Spielman said there were “no particular commitments” to the Fund our Future demands for Melbourne’s suburban fringe and growth corridor.
“Giving residents and businesses in the fast-growing outer suburbs the same opportunities and access to infrastructure as other Australians is not only a matter of fairness, it also adds up for the economy,” Ms Spielman said.
“Investment in the outer suburbs will outweigh the costs, create jobs, increase tax revenues and permanently boost the economy by billions per year.
“Our campaign and the groundswell of community support have put the issues affecting outer suburbs, such as Pakenham and Cranbourne, on the table.
“We will be working hard to keep them at the top of the government’s agenda.”
Ms Spielman said the basis of the Fund Our Future campaign concept was to draw attention to the need for outer suburbs to have a distinct, long-term strategy in the same way as regional and rural areas do.
She said that the Coalition’s new National Stronger Regions Fund, recently renamed the Building Better Regions Fund, would now exclude the outer suburbs which previously had access to the funding.
“The fund was one of the few avenues available to councils on the outskirts of our capital cities to access money for much-needed infrastructure,” Ms Spielman said.
“Infrastructure Australia has underlined the need to better support population growth. It should not be made harder for these population hotspots to get assistance.
“The redirection of this fund to rural, regional and remote areas only further supports the need for outer growth suburbs to have a dedicated approach. We will be seeking discussions with the government with a view to a better and fairer way forward for the five million people living in these areas.”