Draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy Submission
We were very pleased to note that the draft Strategy addresses a number of the priorities raised in our two earlier submissions which can be accessed via:

  1. Laying the Foundations response
  2. All Things Considered response

In particular, we were pleased to note the inclusion of the following the draft 30 Year Strategy:

  1. Initiatives to support the delivery of education facilities and co-location of kindergartens with schools.
  2. Mobile and ICT improvements in the regions.
  3. Initiatives for areas with low or no growth.
  4. Public transport for the regions.
  5. Funding for roads.
  6. Last mile / first mile funding.
  7. Funding for sport and recreation and cultural facilities.
  8. Torquay transport links.

There are a number of critical projects which we believe should have been included in the draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy and are as follows:

1. Recognition of the food and fibre sector (agriculture) and the value of this industry into the future.

We note that the draft 30 Year Strategy includes several initiatives that are broadly supportive of agriculture – funding for rural roads, 1st mile/last mile and irrigation water delivery. However the absence of identified support and protection for agriculture in the draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy is a significant limitation of the strategy.

We believe that a robust and aspirational 30 year strategy for infrastructure should include not only the projects which will enhance the lives of Victorians, but should also include protections from the impact of infrastructure expansion on sensitive uses and industries like agriculture.

The Foodprint Melbourne project, which the PUGRC participated in, has found that the food bowl surrounding Melbourne currently provides 41% of our food. By 2050 it will only be able to provide 18% of the food required, due to encroachment onto farmland by other uses.

We recognise that the draft 30 Year Strategy already contains approximately $100 billion in infrastructure projects. What we are continuing to propose is an overarching objective that prioritises food and fibre production for Victoria’s future and seeks to protect agricultural lands and uses, from encroachment. This initiative would also slow the sprawl into rural areas, requirements for ever expanding public transport routes and services and support greater densities in the urban areas.

This is a NIL cost initiative and would assist to ensure VIC has sufficient agricultural lands to meet our food and fibre needs in to the future.

2. Employment generating industries and infrastructure in the regions

The draft 30 Year Strategy includes initiatives to generate jobs and transport connections to jobs in Melbourne and the outer suburban employment hubs of Sunshine, Monash and Latrobe.

The strategy has missed the opportunity to generate jobs and employment in the regions, and to take some of the growth pressure off Melbourne and the growth areas out to the Melbourne Growth Boundary.

The opportunity to develop new industries and employment in the regions where there is greater housing affordability, shorter commute times and would result in less pressure on Melbourne’s over stretched infrastructure should not be overlooked. This is an initiative that could be developed over the coming years with the “on the ground” expertise of the RDV regional managers.

3. Standard Developer Contributions – for regional areas

As outlined in our response to the research paper on Value Capture, critical to the funding of infrastructure in rural and regional areas is the application of a standard developer contribution. Currently rural and regional Councils without an adopted Developer Contributions Plan, rely on the negotiation of Section 173 agreements with developers. These negotiations are not always fruitful and the agreements can be difficult to enforce resulting in lower than required investment into infrastructure by developers in some instances.

To bring the rural and regional areas up to par and to manage the significant amount of infrastructure required for population growth, it is critical that a standard DCP is developed and made available.

This is a NIL cost initiative but will have a positive and significant impact on rural and regional communities.
We sincerely appreciate the level of engagement that Infrastructure Victoria has had with the PUGRC in the development of the draft 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy. We hope that our suggestions will be fully considered and recognised for their ability to contribute to Government’s objectives as outlined in Plan Melbourne and the Regional Growth Plans.