Mayors warn of looming crisis in outer suburbs

Mayors from outer suburbs around the country have gathered in Canberra to vent their frustration at the piecemeal approach to infrastructure in our great outer suburbs.

Senior delegates say it is “crunch time” and that our federal politicians need to provide some leadership – and commit to a long-term infrastructure fund for these areas.

“We come from all over the country – from Penrith in Western Sydney to Wanneroo in Perth – but the challenges in our areas are the same: congested roads, inadequate public transport and poor access to health facilities,” says Glenn Docherty, spokesperson for the Fund our Future campaign.

“Our residents face daily nightmare commutes just to get to their work or study,” says Glenn Docherty, who is also the Mayor of Playford in Adelaide’s north and Chair of the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) which is backing the campaign.

“This is crunch time for our communities,” says Mayor Docherty. “If a significant investment is not made now, we risk dividing cities along social and economic lines: those in the inner city who have good access to transport, jobs and health facilities – and those in the fast-growing outer suburbs who do not.”

The local representatives are supporters of the Fund our Future campaign, which has gathered almost 87,000 emails in support of a dedicated national infrastructure fund for outer suburbs.

“It is time to stop the election-cycle announcements and take a cohesive, long-term approach to our communities, which are home to five million Australians – and counting,” says Mayor Docherty.

“Already there’s a $50 billion backlog in infrastructure and that’s without taking into account the additional 2.5 million people who will live there in the next 15 years,” he says.

The senior delegates also point to research which shows investment in these areas will outweigh the costs, create jobs, increase tax revenues and boost national GDP by billions per year.

While in Canberra, the Greens leader Richard Di Natale wrote to NGAA, in support of the need for investment in infrastructure and services in these communities.

“We know that people are spending too much time stuck in traffic. It’s bad for people and bad for the planet,” he wrote. The Greens have committed to increasing Commonwealth investment in infrastructure by up to $75 billion and establishing the Australian Infrastructure Bank to manage the investment.

Of that, the Greens have committed $25 billion for public transport. An additional $250 million will be invested in arterial road networks to maximise efficient traffic flow and enable better bus services to suburban and outer suburban areas.

How to get involved: Sign the petition at www.fundourfuture.info and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @FundourFutureAU or use the hashtag #FundourFutureAU

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, National Growth Areas Alliance, 0448 388 934 or susi.hamilton@ngaa.org.au

Photo caption: (clockwise from left at rear) Mayor Henry Zelones, City of Armadale, Perth; John Erren, President at Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale, WA; Mayor Ann Ferguson from the District Council of Mt Barker, SA; Mayor Glenn Docherty, City of Playford, Adelaide; Mayor Karen McKeown, Penrith City Council, Sydney; Mayor Adele Hegedich, Wyndham City Council in Melbourn (front at right); Mayor Stevan Kozmevski, City of Whittlesea, Melbourne and Mayor Tracey Roberts, City of Wanneroo, Perth (front at left)