Urban Infrastructure

I rise today to speak about cities. The book, City Limits, by-Jane-Frances Kennedy and Paul Donegan, was launched this week, and it highlights some of the issues being faced in the electorate of Lalor. Lalor is one of the fastest growing communities in the country, and we have particular issues. This book captures those issues and shines a light on them, and I think it worth everyone in this parliament having a read of this book and taking on some of the lessons that it has for us.The book identifies that more than 50 per cent of people are moving to suburbs over 20 kilometres from the CBDs in our country. This has an impact on employment and it certainly has an impact on congestion in my electorate. It also highlights the emerging drive-in drive-out suburbs that we are developing, which is having a huge impact on the balance of family life for people living in Lalor. They are moving to suburbs like Point Cook, Tarneit, Manor Lakes and Truganina. Research shows that over 50 per cent of jobs growth is occurring less than 10 kilometres from the CBD. So we are building suburbs more than 20 kilometres away and the jobs are occurring in the city. This causes financial disadvantage. The book highlights that if you work within 10 kilometres of the CBD the average income is $77,000, but if you are working 20 kilometres or more from the CBD it drops to $56,000 a year, highlighting a growing problem with inequity across our cities.

We need all levels of government to work on this problem together because cities are shaped by the decisions that federal governments make—or do not make—and by the way all levels of government work together. Under Labor, we understood this. We had RDAF funding major infrastructure projects in regions. We had Labor working with state and local governments, delivering much needed infrastructure in growth corridors. In government, Labor doubled the roads budget and built 7,500 kilometres worth of roads. When Labor came to power, Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD for infrastructure investment. We took Australia to first in infrastructure development. We did this because we understood that federal government action and inaction impacts on the development of our cities, and therefore on the quality of the life of our people.

But the Abbott government has ignored the needs of growth corridors in its first 18 months in government. They have abolished the Major Cities Unit. They have attempted to reduce the independence of Infrastructure Australia. They have cancelled all federal investment in urban public transport, including the Melbourne Metro, impacting directly on the people of Lalor. This government does not have a minister responsible for cities. It has no policy, it has no plan for sustainable, livable cities. I think the book highlights the issues that are being faced not just in my electorate but across our cities and across the country. I call on the government to put their heads down and get to work on it. (Time expired)

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