Griffith University academics, Dr Jago Dodson and Dr Neil Sipe recently released Unsettling Suburbia: The new landscape of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Australian cities. The report further explores the VAMPIRE index (Vulnerability Assessment for Mortgage, Petroleum and Inflation Risks and Expenses) whereby the costs borne by rising petrol prices and mortgages are compared across suburbs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the report finds that Melbourne’s outer suburbs, including the eastern region, is more vulnerable to rising petrol prices compared to the inner or middle suburbs.
Cr Alex Makin, spokesman for the Eastern Transport Coalition of seven municipalities, said the report highlighted the “dire need” of improvements to outer east transport.
Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs are vulnerable to rising petrol prices due to the lack of readily available public transport. This results in higher levels of car dependence and thus a higher proportion of income being vulnerable to rising petrol prices.
“The rise in oil prices affects the mobility of the community and it is critical for action to be taken now.”
While petrol prices have decreased slightly in recent weeks, trends are continuing to show further increases. It is therefore imperative that Melbourne’s outer suburbs are provided with transport choice, through the provision of frequent, reliable and readily available public transport.
Council has an important role to play in advocating for public transport improvements, particularly since the State Government will be undertaking a review of Maroondah’s bus services towards the end of this year. This review will provide the opportunity to request higher service frequencies, increased operating spans and new routes to cover areas such as Canterbury Road, Mount Dandenong Road and Warranwood which lack much needed bus services.
In addition, Council must strengthen its advocacy for the upgrade of Ringwood Station. The State Government can no longer be allowed to ignore the dire state of Ringwood Station, a facility that is perceived to be unsafe by our community and fails to meet accessibility standards.
While a number of municipalities including the City of Knox are currently considering a Peak Oil Policy, some of my colleagues on council are unfortunately reluctant to consider such action despite the economic, social and environmental consequences for Maroondah.