Harness infrastructure for productivity and growth
As Victoria’s population has increased, cities and towns have grown to provide homes for new residents.
As the destination for most new arrivals, Melbourne has expanded particularly rapidly, including outwards, with new growth suburbs under construction in the city’s west, north and south-east.
More homes are also being built in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, sharing space with commercial uses and shifting previously industrial centres to residential areas. An increasing population helps to drive economic development and thriving communities, but it can also put pressure on existing infrastructure and services.
Concentrate investment where it can do the most good, enable services and infrastructure to meet future demand, and measurably improve the lives of every Victorian now and into the future.
Other sections of this strategy discuss how the Victorian Government can address a significant amount of increasing demand through better use of existing infrastructure. Recommendations point to the benefits of using new technology, improving asset management and resilience, and using prices to influence behaviour that can manage demand. In some cases this will simply not be enough and new infrastructure will be needed. Victorian Government Budgets, however, will be constrained – especially once the time for recovery stimulus is past. The challenge is to carefully select projects that produce the best outcomes, so that scarce funding can deliver maximum benefits.
How the Victorian Government decides to use existing infrastructure, and the new infrastructure projects to prioritise and deliver, will change depending on its objectives. New infrastructure can help prepare for long-term growth, maximise efficiencies, and be designed to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits. Major projects should carefully consider all available options, with final decisions based on outcomes of detailed feasibility studies and business cases ahead of announcements. One major challenge is meeting the needs of new neighbourhoods built on previously rural land.
These areas have relatively affordable housing costs but little existing infrastructure to support new residents and their access to employment, services and recreation. Public transport and roads in outer suburbs are less developed, meaning there are fewer options for people who need to commute to the city, inner or middle suburbs, and congestion will only worsen without good transport infrastructure.Freight movements also require reliable travel with reasonable travel times. The rapid development of new estates has also caused environmental issues. As plot sizes shrink, and house sizes grow, less land is available for existing vegetation or new trees.
Statewide, the Victorian Government also faces challenges in delivering suitable, sufficient and timely services. Demand is increasing for health, education, social housing, justice, and other social services as populations grow, communities become more diverse, government policies change and society evolves. Sufficient, modern, and flexible infrastructure will be needed to provide the services required to respond. Selecting the best new infrastructure projects can help create a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive Victoria. This would concentrate investment where it can do the most good, enable services and infrastructure to meet future demand, and measurably improve the lives of every Victorian