9 February 2016
Growth suburbs are hurting, but a national campaign aims to stop the pain. Katrina Hinschen reports
Our residents deserve the same access to quality roads, public transport and health services as those closer to the city – WHITTLESEA MAYOR STEVAN KOZMEVSKI
The Whittlesea Leader is backing the National Growth Areas Alliance’s Fund Our Future campaign in conjunction with the City of Whittlesea. Mayor Stevan Kozmevski says you deserve better roads, public transport and access to health care. You, our readers, can make it happen. WHITTLESEA Council has joined a national campaign calling for a dedicated infrastructure fund to improve roads, public transport and health services.
The campaign, called Fund Our Future, was launched in Melbourne last Friday by the National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA), which represents 24 of Australia’s fastestgrowing municipalities, including the City of Whittlesea.
Leader Community News, the Victorian campaign media partner, last week revealed figures commissioned by the NGAA showed more than one million Melburnians living in growth suburbs lack access to adequate roads, public transport and health services.
The Fund Our Future campaign calls on the federal Coalition and Labor parties to commit to establish a fund to fill the infrastructure backlog which totals more than $73 billion across Australia.
Whittlesea Mayor Stevan Kozmevski said Epping North, Mernda, Doreen and South Morang were some of the fastest-growing suburbs in Australia and the population boom will continue for many years to come.
“Unfortunately, our residents sit in bumper-tobumper traffic and have poor access to public transport and health facilities,” Cr Kozmevski said.
“Families are spending way too long in gridlock and not enough time with family and friends.”
Cr Kozmevski said compelling evidence showed that a national dedicated fund was needed.
“Our residents deserve the same access to quality roads, public transport and health services as those closer to the city,” he said.
“The Victorian Government understands this and has established the Interface Fund in recognition that dedicated funding is needed to keep pace with massive population growth.
“The Federal Government determines immigration levels and encourages population growth to areas like ours.
“They are therefore duty-bound to provide greater funding for road, public transport and health facilities to the areas where most residents are moving to.”
NGAA member councils including Casey, Cardinia, Hume, Melton, Mitchell and Wyndham, have also joined the campaign as their growth suburbs grow at double the national rate.
Estimates show growth area populations will increase by half to 7.5 million in the next 15 years.
NGAA chair and City of Playford, Adelaide, Mayor Glenn Docherty stressed communities faced being marginalised along financial and social lines unless a plan to reel in the infrastructure backlog is implemented.
“Too often our residents are forced to travel up to two hours each way just to get to their job, burdening them with high fuel costs, stress from sitting in traffic and time away from friends and family,” Cr Docherty said.
“If a significant investment is not made, 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.”
Last Friday’s Victorian campaign launch gave councils an opportunity to highlight which projects would benefit from an infrastructure fund.
The City of Whittlesea will focus on road investment, with the construction of the O’Herns Rd/Hume Freeway interchange, extension of Edgars Rd, and duplication of Epping and Bridge Inn roads requiring federal funding to be completed. Cr Kozmevski urged Whittlesea Leader readers to join the campaign by signing an online petition.
With the click of a button, you can tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten you want their parties to act now.
“I call on our residents to send a strong message to our national leaders,” Cr Kozmevski said.
“If you are sick of sitting in traffic, find it hard to access public transport and think our health services and hospitals need to be improved, sign our petition to help fund our future.”
CITY OF WHITTLESEA’S ROAD PRIORITIES
O’Herns Rd/Hume Fwy interchange, and Edgars Rd extension to O’Herns Rd
Cost: $120 million
Will separate freight traffic from commuter traffic and provide 45,000 people living in the area with access to Epping Central and the Cooper St employment precinct where 23,000 jobs are forecast to be created over time.
The project will relieve traffic congestion and rat running.
Epping Rd duplication between McDonalds Rd and Craigieburn Rd East
Cost: $70 million
Epping Rd is the main arterial from Epping North to future growth areas of Wollert and Donnybrook. The population in Epping North is expected to grow from 20,200 residents to 53,000 by 2030. There will also be an additional 32,000 residents living in Wollert and 32,696 in Donnybrook by 2035.
Bridge Inn Rd duplication between Plenty and Yan Yean roads
Cost: $80 million
Bridge Inn Rd is not designed to take the 15,000 it carries each day. It is the key east-west arterial in the Mernda-Doreen precinct that 36,000 people call home.
The population is forecast to grow to 55,000 by 2036. This project will get rid of congestion and improve travel times.
Fix our growing pains
EPPING North, Mernda, Doreen and South Morang are some of the fastestgrowing suburbs in Australia.
And the population boom will continue for many years to come.
We know people like living here and experiencing the joy of building a new home in a new community.
But residents in our growing communities are confronted with congested and insufficient roads and poor access to public transport and health facilities.
Successive governments have failed to fund and build the infrastructure our growing communities need and deserve.
The State Government has recognised this and created a dedicated fund for growing outer suburbs. A national approach is also needed.
The City of Whittlesea is joining forces with other councils across Australia in the Fund our Future campaign.
The Fund our Future campaign calls on both the federal Labor Party and Coalition to create an ongoing dedicated fund to fix the chronic backlog of major road, public transport and health facility upgrades needed, and help future proof our suburbs.
It is time something is done. Residents on the outskirts of our capital cities deserve the same access to quality roads, public transport and health services as those closer to the city.
FUND OUR FUTURE – GET INVOLVED
Visit website at FUNDOURFUTURE.INFO