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Growing demand for public transport must fuel real budget reform

The Australian Greens today welcomed the announcement of the Liveable Cities Program, designed to encourage sustainable urban development and called for further funding reforms to meet Australia's booming demand for public and active transport.

"This is a tiny, $20 million down-payment on more liveable, prosperous and sustainable cities. It will offer grants of up to $500,000 for innovative planning and design initiatives and up to four million dollars for demonstration projects. It is a good initiative, but we are long past time for prototypes and pilot projects," said Greens sustainable cities and transport spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.

"Affordable housing is in crisis, with a shortfall in supply of almost half a million affordable dwellings, but more urban sprawl is not the answer. We need solutions to tackle both the lack of affordability and the growth of sprawl, as well as to reduce congestion and cut pollution. Energy efficient housing and zoning reform, as well as public transport, are vital to these efforts. This program is a small but important step forward."

"It should be noted though that the Minister has given with one hand and taken away with the other. This budget he not only discontinued the eerily similar program called ‘Green Precincts', worth $15 million for exemplary sustainable buildings in each capital city, but bizarrely dumped federal funding for urban water efficiency initiatives and rebates for rainwater tanks and greywater systems for example."

Senator Ludlam also welcomed the release of the State of Australian Cities Report today, pointing out that the growth in public transport demand must be met by an ongoing increase in funding.

"Public transport use in the eight capital cities boomed by 14.7 per cent from 2004 to 2008, with the mode share now well above ten per cent. However, in Western Australia - for example - the public transport system is bursting at the seams - with Perth commuters often forced to wait for the second or third train before being able to get on during peak hours."

"The 2011-2012 Federal Budget's failure to address years of under-investment in public transport infrastructure was a huge let-down in terms of the sustainability of our cities. It committed five times as much funding to roads than to rail and virtually nothing to cycling infrastructure. That needs to change for a number of reasons - including the inevitable rise of the price of oil. So we welcome Liveable Cities Program, but we call for it to be just the beginning of a new approach to sustainable planning."

Media Contact : Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302



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