Victorian Senator Ricky Muir has given a passionate speech to the Senate, backing the Fund our Future campaign which aims for a dedicated national fund for outer growth areas.
He’s told the Chamber about the infrastructure backlog which already affects around five million Australians.
“There is a significant group of Australians who are frequently overlooked in the ‘city vs. rural or regional’ debate – those that live in the rapidly-growing outer-urban areas of the major capital cities,” he said, promising to visit affected areas in outer Melbourne, in his electorate of Victoria.
Senator Muir said these areas will be where most of the urban growth will happen, with numbers are expected to reach 7.5 million in the next 15 years.
“But things are far from idyllic in these outer-urban areas,” he said. “Each new broad-acre sub-division is home to thousands of people, but in many cases, the access to these new outer-suburbs is via the same two-lane road that sufficed when this was farming land.”
Senator Muir blamed governments for failing to “provide the infrastructure to match the population increase, as more and more affordable housing has been created”.
He’s backed the campaign for a national dedicated fund for outer growth areas, saying such a fund would be “free of the changing whims of different governments.”
“We’re all-too-familiar with election cycles and what they can do for infrastructure projects,” he said. “These major projects cover many years, from concept, design and approvals, through to construction and commissioning. Three-year federal election cycles, in addition to changes of state governments, can create real difficulties in gaining certainty and confidence to proceed with a project.”
He also called for outer growth areas to become more like regional centres, where people can both live and work, avoiding long commutes to the city.
In the speech, he told of meeting the Chair of the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA), Mayor Glenn Docherty, in Canberra this week. The NGAA is behind the Fund our Future campaign and Senator Muir has praised the “refreshing maturity” in local governments working together to pool knowledge and resources, rather than fighting each other for limited funds.
“We are pleased to have a champion for the everyday Australian, in Senator Muir, take a stand on this important issue,” said Mayor Docherty.
Senator Muir says he looks forward to working with both the Federal Government and Opposition to see how a Fund might be established.
Sign the petition at the Fund our Future website