As the Deputy Chair of the Eastern Transport Coalition I was invited to attend a local version of the Australian Government’s 2020 summit. The regional summit, which was held at Monash University in Clayton, included the same themes that will be discussed in Canberra later this year:
- Future directions for the Australian economy;
- Economic infrastructure, the digital economy and the future of our cities;
- Population, sustainability, climate change and water;
- A long-term national health strategy;
- Strengthening communities;
- Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.
Given that the Eastern Transport Coalition’s focus is on infrastructure on the need for federal leadership in regard to the sustainability of our cities, I attended the session on Australia’s economic infrastructure.
Participants consisted of community members, representatives of business as well as non-profit organisations and local government. Within the infrastructure session, there was agreement on the need for Federal leadership to improve the sustainability of our cities through Federal investment in urban public transport.
Issues surrounding governance were also discussed. The role of the State Government was questioned, with there being a strong preference for direct interaction between Federal and Local governments.
Given that congestion, greenhouse emissions and social isolation have national ramifications it is evident that there is a need for the Federal Government to provide funding for public transport infrastructure. This investment, which would work in partnership with other tiers of government, would ensure that State Governments deliver the necessary public transport improvements to maintain and improve the liveability of our cities, an issue that is growing increasingly critical given rising petrol prices.
Interestingly the need for federal leadership in urban public transport was seen as a prominent issue in many of the other groups, particularly the health and education sessions where it became apparent that people need transport choice, including public transport, to be able to access such services.
The call for federal leadership and investment in urban public transport was clearly conveyed at this summit. It is imperative that our Federal representatives heed this message.