Feb 18, 2019

Speech to National Growth Areas Alliance – Catching up and Planning for Future Need – Monday, 18 February, 2019

Thank you for the invitation to address today’s launch of ‘Catch Up with the Outer Suburbs.’

This is a carefully considered policy document that sets out the priorities of the NGAA and I congratulate them for their work.

These priorities include:

  • Accessible public transport and effective road networks so people can get to their destination on time;
  • Local job creation so that there are employment opportunities outside the CBDs of capital cities; and
  • Investment in the appropriate community infrastructure so that people can come together and kids have somewhere to play sport…

This shouldn’t be too much to ask.

But the everyday experience for the five million people who call our outer suburbs home is vastly different.

Government complacency will only exacerbate this, restricting the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities.

The simple truth is that if people can’t access employment, training or educational opportunities; if people are stuck in their cars for hours commuting to and from work; and if people cannot enjoy their quality of life, then they can’t achieve their potential.

And of course this means that, in turn, our cities won’t fulfil theirs.

Successful cities are inclusive cities, with diverse vibrant communities – not disconnected enclaves of privilege and disadvantage.

We must ensure our cities are places of opportunity – for all people.

But of course, to achieve this we must do more than just catch up across our cities.

We need to plan for future demand.

A failure to do so only leads to bad outcomes and a higher cost of retrofitting infrastructure to try to catch up with the community’s needs and fulfil their expectations.

We also need to be strategic about growing opportunities in our outer suburbs, including in advanced manufacturing, or through the establishment of business or science and technology precincts.

Our City Partnerships proposal provides a model for unlocking this potential through targeted investment in growth areas.

But we intend to do more than just level the playing field.

City Partnerships provide an opportunity to address spatial inequality in our cities by driving and facilitating investment in outer suburbs and growth areas to enable them to become more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Our approach emphasises collaboration and we will start by listening to what you have to say.

Already many councils in this room have presented me with project proposals outlining a strategic vision for their region that trials innovation while providing local employment.

The Federal Government has a natural role to play in supporting these efforts, providing leadership and investment where it is required.

I am pleased that there is bipartisanship, at least on the rhetorical level, on the need for Commonwealth involvement in our cities.

This is necessary for continuity of urban policy in Australia.

But we can and indeed must do more, particularly when it comes to incorporating sustainability and smart technology in our planning processes.

For this to be achieved at a meaningful scale, coordination across local, state and federal governments is required.

And this is where organisations such as the NGAA play such an integral role in providing a unified voice.

I look forward to continuing to work with the NGAA and the councils in this room in the months ahead to advance opportunities in our outer suburbs and ensure their ongoing productivity, sustainability and liveability.