The decision to significantly reduce the Growing Suburbs Fund in this week’s Victorian State Budget could undermine other positive announcements in this week’s Victorian State Budget.
Interface Councils group spokesperson, Cr Fiona Stevens, Mayor of Mitchell Shire Council, said the budget had delivered a mixed bag for The Interface Councils Group (IFC) communities.
IFC, which represents Melbourne’s 10 municipalities that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne, believes the decision heightens the need for all levels of government to improve and strengthen co-ordination and planning of infrastructure and services in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.
“We’re pleased to see a number of initiatives in this budget which deliver on election commitments including funding an increase in free Maternal and Child Health and Early Parenting Services consultations from 6.75 to 8 hours”, Cr Stevens said.
“We also welcome funding for Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals, including one in Narre Warren to serve the outer south-eastern suburbs, a package of new schools and funding for facilities to meet the expansion of universal kindergarten to 3 and 4 years olds to meet the demands of fast growing communities.”
“However, these initiatives could be undermined by the decision to reduce one of the key and significant programs for meeting local infrastructure needs across Melbourne’s outer suburbs, the Growing Suburbs Fund, which has had its budget allocation slashed by 80%.”
Since its commencement in 2015, the Growing Suburbs Fund (GSF) has supported more than 300 projects across Melbourne’s diverse and fast-growing outer Councils. During this period, the state government have allocated approximately $400 million in funding which has been leveraged by local councils into well over $1 billion in their needed and priority community infrastructure projects.
“The Growing Suburbs Fund has been vital in addressing the infrastructure gap in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, delivering projects that are essential to growing communities that would otherwise not be built until years later,” Cr Stevens said.
Funding of the Streamlining for Growth Program which supported Councils to deliver at-scale, permit-ready employment, and residential land in areas subject to population growth pressures or experiencing shortages of land for housing or jobs has also been abolished.
Cr Stevens said the IFC would continue to pursue the establishment of a centralised authority with a clear mandate to improve the coordination and delivery of vital infrastructure in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.
“Improved coordination and transparency on all infrastructure planning will create a more harmonious and well connected community, improve social outcomes, sustainability and add measurable economic value,” Cr Stevens said.
“Better coordination would deliver significantly improved liveability through improved land use planning, infrastructure, service planning, capital planning and targeted decision making.
“The IFC will continue to pursue a better partnership approach to these challenges, a compact between state and local government, working together to comprehensively identify and plan for infrastructure and services that meet the needs of our communities now and into the future.”
Victoria’s IFC Councils are 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 further information or to request an interview with an Interface Councils spokesperson contact Daniel Maltar via email at firstname.lastname@example.org