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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back For Melbourne’s Outer Suburbs

Melbourne’s outer suburbs will have to wait longer for basic community infrastructure after the 2017/18 Victorian State Budget, handed down this morning, saw a cut in the annual allocation for the successful Growing Suburbs Fund.

Interface Councils spokesperson, Cardinia Shire Council Mayor, Cr Brett Owen said while it was great to see a two-year commitment to the Growing Suburbs Fund, Interface Councils were very disappointed to see a reduction in annual funding.

“The cut to the Growing Suburbs Fund will have a big impact on our outer suburban communities who face some of the biggest liveability challenges in Melbourne,” Cr Owen said.

“The reduction from $50 million each year for the last two years, to $25 million per annum over the next two years, halves the number of critical community infrastructure projects likely to be funded. This means communities will face a much longer wait to see vital facilities such as community, youth and childcare centres, as well as recreational facilities, in their areas. These communities already have significantly less than the rest of metropolitan Melbourne.

“During the past two years, we have seen more than 75 critical projects funded, delivering real social and economic benefits for Melbourne’s outer suburbs. While we are grateful that we will be able to continue to deliver some of these essential projects, we still have a significant backlog of projects in the pipeline and with the reduction in funding the ability to bridge the $9.6 billion gap in infrastructure identified in the 2013 One Melbourne or Two report is reduced.

“It feels like we’ve taken two steps forward in addressing the historic underinvestment in outer metropolitan Melbourne, and now we have taken one step back.

“Notwithstanding Interface Councils welcome other investments made, including in education, public transport, roads and emergency services,” Cr Owen said.

Interface Councils is supportive of specific investments made in the 2017/18 budget that will see:

  • Additional funds for public transport including, $67 million for more train, tram and bus services

  • Funding for roads including; stage 2 of Yan Yean Road and the North-East Link and road maintenance and resurfacing across Melbourne’s suburbs.

  • Continued focus on building new schools, upgrading those at capacity and early land acquisition in interface areas. In addition, more than $21 million to help kids in Melbourne’s outer suburbs get to school.

  • A $10 million commitment to capitalize on opportunities to co-locate Early Childhood Development facilities and new suburban primary schools.

  • $1 million for the development and delivery of five-year plans and the establishment of Metropolitan Partnerships across Melbourne to assist with the more timely delivery of jobs, services and infrastructure.

  • Significant investment in addressing family violence across Victoria.

“The Andrews Government says it has delivered a fair and responsible budget, however Interface Councils believe that the level of investment in Melbourne’s outer suburbs does not reflect equal or adequate funding to ensure that our communities have the same relative access to infrastructure, services and opportunities as the rest of Melbourne.

Without appropriate funding and policy, the social, economic and environmental challenges on Melbourne’s fringe will only get worse,” Cr Owen said.

Interface Councils is a group of ten municipalities that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, comprising Cardinia Shire Council, City of Casey, Hume City Council, Melton City Council, Mitchell Shire Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Nillumbik Shire Council, City of Whittlesea, Wyndham City Council and Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

For more information contact Stina Webb on 0452 101 303.

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