Counting the campaign wins

There have been wins with the community, media and with politicians over the first ten weeks of the Fund our Future campaign.

Community:

We have passed another milestone, with more than 20,000 emails going to politicians in Canberra, demanding a dedicated national infrastructure fund for outer growth suburbs.

Mayors have been attending community events and going to train stations to tell people about the campaign. This led to a spike in traffic and helped the Fund our Future Facebook page reach 56,000 people in the last month alone.

One of the projects being backed by the Fund our Future campaign – the O’Herns Road interchange – in Melbourne’s City of Whittlesea is reportedly having its business case assessed by the Federal Government.

Media:

There have been more than 60 media stories around the country about Fund our Future. These include more than 45 stories in suburban papers and their websites, plus coverage on TV, radio, the major dailies and in the digital arena (13 state-wide stories and three national articles).

Related coverage about outer growth areas and associated infrastructure problems is building. This week there was widespread coverage of the Grattan Institute’s report showing transport infrastructure projects sometimes lack adequate justification or scrutiny – and that politics are put ahead of the public interest.

“A dedicated national infrastructure fund for outer growth areas would take the politics out of investment in infrastructure,” says Campaign Director, Ruth Spielman. “Our communities have told us they want more strategic, stable, long-term investment, not lucky dips and election cycle approaches.”

The Australian’s columnist Bernard Salt has written about Melbourne and Sydney being burdened by population increases and poor infrastructure in a piece “Hipster ideals choke off cities”. He’s called for initiatives to attract more jobs in outer suburbs, which would decrease the burden on residents and ease traffic congestion in the CBD.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed the country’s boom suburbs, including many in outer areas.

Government:

The Government and the Opposition both want “30 minute cities”. The Fund our Future team has written to Parliamentarians making the case that it’s more like “90 minute cities” in our areas. We plan to capitalise on the interest in coming weeks.

In other developments, the Federal Government says Britain’s successful “city deals” policy, which transformed Manchester and other areas, will be adapted for use in Australia. The model would involve federal, state and local governments signing long-term contracts to deliver major infrastructure projects. The proposed national infrastructure fund being put forward by the Fund our Future campaign is a good fit with this and a practical way to implement such policy.

Outer growth areas were specifically mentioned by the Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor, who says the government wants to boost funding for road and rail public transport infrastructure in these areas, as trade-off for new major housing developments.

Labor MP Andrew Giles while he welcomes the government’s attention on cities, inequality in Australia is “at a 75-year high” and that there are “entrenched divisions in our major cities -- with outer areas missing out on access to jobs, amenities and infrastructure.”