The Government should make the outer suburbs a key priority in its cities agenda, according to a leading urban researcher.
Professor Jago Dodson from RMIT University said the distribution of employment and services is “highly uneven”, particularly in outer suburbs. There are already five million residents in outer suburbs around the country.
“The development of suburban employment clusters and improving transport and spatial accessibility to employment and services are really important objectives to push on,” observed Professor Dodson of recent Federal Government initiatives. He was part of a panel discussion on cities and growth co-hosted by the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) at Parliament House.
The Alliance and its member councils are behind the Fund our Future campaign.
The Chair of the NGAA, Mayor Glenn Docherty, said the current “lucky-dip” approach to infrastructure is not working and so a dedicated national infrastructure fund for fast-growing outer suburbs is required.
“Fast-growing outer suburbs are a major contributor to the national economy, but don’t get their fair share of funding for roads, public transport and health facilities,” he said.
Professor Dodson said he is encouraged by cross-party support for addressing the “deficits” in jobs and services in outer suburbs, but he said there is often still a focus on the needs of the inner city.
“We can do the shiny, big-picture stuff like Metros and tunnels in the inner city, but resolving the problems in suburbs is critical to an urban policy that can support successful cities,” says Professor Dodson, who is Director of the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT.
Research carried out for the NGAA shows that investment in growth areas will outweigh the costs, create jobs, increase tax revenues and permanently boost GDP.
Tens of thousands of emails have been sent to Canberra in support of the campaign for a dedicated national infrastructure fund for outer suburbs.