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Overpopulation & Budget inequities create a new sub-class of disadvantaged Melburnians

Melbourne’s outer suburbs have accommodated almost half of Victoria’s undemocratically imposed population growth during the past five years, yet they have been allocated only seven percent of the Napthine Government’s 2014/15 budget for key infrastructure.

The Interface Scorecard 2014, prepared by Essential Economics, shows the rest of the budget’s infrastructure allocation, 93 percent, has gone towards supporting the other half of Victoria’s population growth, being hosted by the metropolitan and regional/rural areas, most of it 78 percent, being allocated to the metropolitan areas.

Cr Bob Fairclough, Mayor of Wyndham City Council and spokesperson for the Interface Councils will be presenting the research to Deputy Premier Peter Ryan today.

“Why is it that less than 10 percent of the budget is allocated to support one half of Victoria’s growth, while the other half qualifies for more than 90 percent? This translates to a shortfall of $695 million in the urban fringe areas,” Cr Fairclough said.

“In real terms, this means they have been short-changed four buildings for early childhood centres, 10 new secondary schools, three new TAFE campuses, five new hospitals and they are unable to cater for more than 9,000 new public service users.

“Its wide-ranging negative impacts create a downward spiral which may be impossible to reverse if allowed to continue.”

For example, according to DEEWR statistics, these areas suffer much higher unemployment than their metropolitan and rural counterparts and there is only half a job available for every job seeker. The research reports that urban fringe areas have 6.5 percent unemployment, while the metropolitan areas are sitting at 5.7 percent, with one new job provided per labour force participant, and the regional areas enjoy the lowest unemployment of 5.4 percent, with 1.07 new jobs for every job seeker.

Private investment in the area is also falling. Data from the Building Commission of Victoria shows investment in the commercial sector has fallen by 64 percent or $194 million in the past three years, and in the retail sector, by 24 percent or $60 million.

Cr Bob Fairclough said,

“Over the current 4-year budget period an estimated $1.831 billion in investment is required for critical infrastructure in the urban fringe areas. While the majority of this funding is a State responsibility, funding support is also required from the Federal Government and Council’s, and some will be provided by the private sector.

“State funding allocated in the 2014/15 budget during the past four years represents just $1.021 billion or 56 percent of this requirement. A further $695 million in investment is required from either unallocated State funding, or from non-State funding sources in order to meet the identified needs of the interface communities over this period.”

Community groups from the outer suburbs are planning to rally at five community meetings in July to discuss their unfair treatment by the Napthine Government’s 2014/15 budget. For more information about community meetings, residents of Melbourne’s outer suburbs should call their local council.

Interface Councils is a group of ten municipalities that form a ring around metropolitan Melbourne. They represent some of the fastest growing areas in 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 Council.

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