Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Cities

I rise today to speak about cities. The electorate of Lalor is one of the fastest-growing electorates in the country. The bulk of the electorate is in the city of Wyndham, which has grown from a population of 90,000 a decade ago to a population of over 200,000 today. It has gone from the shire of Werribee, known as a country suburb surrounded by green wedges, to a city butting up against the city of Hobsons Bay. In this place I note high recognition for Werribee, but most members of this place would not recognise the city of which Werribee is now the centre.

People come to live in Wyndham because it is affordable and because it is welcoming. It is now home to people from 120 countries of origin. Young couples come from other suburbs, often closer to the city, to build their first home. Families come to build their second, larger home. This growth brings challenges, not least of which is city policy. With the right policies in place, Melbourne's west and Wyndham can be at the centre of 21st century Australian innovative industry. With the right policies in place, the outer suburbs and growth corridors of our cities, including Wyndham, can be places of equity rather than disadvantage. Australia is the world's most urbanised nation, and cities matter. They are home to four out of five Australians and produce 80 per cent of our GDP.

But we have wasted two years under this government—and 10 years were wasted under John Howard—with no clear city policy. Two years is a long time in a growth corridor. Today, despite this private members' business motion, I question whether the Turnbull government has a plan for sustainable, liveable cities. I question that because I stand today following the shadow minister for infrastructure and cities, the member for Grayndler; and I follow the member for Perth—because Labor has a plan for cities. In opposition we have maintained our focus on cities. I stand here as a member of the caucus committee for cities. Sitting behind me is the member for Scullin, who chairs that caucus committee. We have been out talking about cities for two long years while this government has done nothing about city policy. Where I live and where the people I represent live, that is two long years without any policy.

Many will have spoken about the limitations and inequity that are being built into our cities while we ignore city policy. The book City Limits by Jane-Frances Kelly and Paul Donegan highlights some of the issues being faced in the electorate of Lalor and in other growth corridors across this country. It identifies that more than 50 per cent of people are moving to suburbs over 20 kilometres from the CBDs in our country—that is where I live. It highlights the emerging drive-in-drive-out suburbs that we are developing which are having a huge impact on the balance of family life for people living in my electorate. Allowing such a trend to continue leads to entrenched inequity. I have mentioned this in speech after speech. Labor in government addressed these issues. In government we delivered the regional rail link which has made such a difference in my electorate. The former Labor government provided $3 billion to fund it—it was the biggest Commonwealth investment in any public transport project in the nation's history.

On top of that, Labor has understood the importance of city development and city policy. We had RDAF funding and major infrastructure projects in regions. Labor worked with state and local governments to deliver much-needed infrastructure in growth corridors. But under this government we now have a Prime Minister who was in charge of delivering one of the most important infrastructure projects this country has seen—the NBN—and who has failed to deliver on the promises he made. He has taken longer, stretched out the delivery time and increased the cost of that project.

I stand here as a proud member of the Labor caucus, a proud member who can say that a Labor government will deliver for cities, because we have already done the policy work on cities. We have the runs on the board for cities. Our approach will be evidence based, using business cases to leverage private sector funding. Our $10 billion infrastructure financing facility will unlock billions of dollars in the private sector to build the cities that we need for the future, to ensure that the people who live in my electorate are not disadvantaged by the number of kilometres they live from the Melbourne CBD.


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