Oct 7, 2014

Labor to Target Perth’s Drive-in, Drive-out Suburbs

Joint release with Melissa Parke, Member for Fremantle

Labor will address Perth’s worsening traffic congestion with a range of new policies targeting the growth of drive-in, drive-out suburbs where people live but can’t find work.

Traditionally, population growth in Perth and across Australia has been strongest in outer suburban areas, where average Australian families could afford to buy their own homes.

But in the past decade, jobs growth has slowed in the outer suburbs and shifted to the inner-city where businesses in knowledge-intense industries like financial services are thriving.

This has created the new phenomenon of drive-in-drive-out suburbs where people can afford to live but can’t find a job, forcing them to drive long distances each day to and from work.

Governments need to address this worrying trend or worsening traffic congestion will stall national productivity growth and deny commuters time with their families.

Recent research by the Committee for Perth found the problem was particularly serious in Perth.

The Committee for Perth found that Perth’s fastest-growing areas were more than 33km away from the CBD and that 60 percent of the Perth population lived at least 20km from the CBD.

The research also found that Perth was the nation’s second most-congested city, with motorists experiencing 31 minutes of delays for every hour spent travelling during peak periods.

A Labor Government will confront drive-in, drive-out suburbs with a range of policy responses including promoting jobs growth in outer suburbs, working with other levels of government to boost housing affordability, supporting moves to lift housing density along public transport routes and improving inner-city liveability.

Above all, Labor will invest directly in public transport.

The Abbott Government has no policy for improving the productivity, sustainability and liveability of cities.

Since taking office it has abolished the Major Cities Unit and cancelled all Commonwealth spending on public transport, including $500 million allocated by the previous Labor Government to ease traffic congestion in Perth.

Its idea of urban planning is best symbolized by its proposed Perth Freight Link project, funded in this year’s Federal Budget to the tune of $925 million in the absence of any cost-benefit or environmental analysis.

Even the WA State Government has made clear the project planning is not up to scratch and that it has little information on the proposal, which would damage the Beeliar Wetlands.

This fact was acknowledged by the WA Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Jim Chown, who told a parliamentary committee in June:

… at this stage we have not actually got plans that are worthy of public scrutiny.

Jim Chown, June 12, 2014

Labor wants a national conversation on cities. This is why late last month Opposition Leader Bill Shorten added the new shadow portfolio of Cities to my responsibilities.

I am in the process of establishing a new Urban Policy Dialogue to provide input for urban policy experts so Labor can offer a comprehensive policy for better cities at the next federal election.

Parliamentary Secretary for Western Australia Alannah MacTiernan will participate as a member and will ensure the needs of Perth and WA are high on the agenda.