The Federal Government’s Smart Cities Plan is welcome as far as it goes, but it is hard to see yet how outer suburbs will be better off under the approach, according to a key advocacy group.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement, which focuses on so-called City Deals to encourage the development of urban centres, the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) says the overall approach is useful, but what is needed is a specific commitment to fast-growing outer suburbs.
“This is a reasonable direction which is in line with our research and our approach, but it is hard to see yet how the outer suburbs will be better off,” says Glenn Docherty, the Chair of the NGAA. Mayor Docherty and the Executive Officer of the Alliance, Ruth Spielman are at the summit in Melbourne (pictured with the Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor at centre).
“A dedicated response for outer suburbs is still needed,” says Glenn Docherty, who is also the Mayor of the City of Playford, in Adelaide’s north. “We need a national fund to address the growing disadvantage in fast-growing outer areas.”
The NGAA has revealed its research, carried out by PwC, which draws on the UK’s City Deals approach and a related experience in Canada. It shows there is an opportunity for Australia to capitalise on the growth in these areas. The work says that with the right investment, these areas could be competitive not only nationally, but globally.
“Five million Australians who currently call these areas home lack access to adequate roads, public transport and health facilities,” says Mayor Docherty, who points out the population in outer areas is expected to reach 7.5 million in just 15 years.
“If a significant investment is not made now, we risk dividing Australian 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.
“Already kids are spending too much time in the backseat of the car, instead of the backyard,” he says. “The right infrastructure opens the door to opportunity, so a dedicated infrastructure fund for fast-growing outer suburbs is also about equal access to good roads, public transport and health facilities – no matter where you live.”
The NGAA is behind the Fund our Future campaign, which is calling for a dedicated fund to fix road, public transport and health infrastructure problems in the fast-growing outer suburbs now and into the future.
The NGAA is attending the Federal Government’s Smart Cities Summit in Melbourne and will be in the Budget lock-up next Tuesday.
Media contact: Susi Hamilton, Campaign Communication Officer, National Growth Areas Alliance 0448 388 934.