Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

$150 million to lay the foundations for a sustainable Australia

Media release
10 May 2011

The Gillard Government will lay the foundations for a sustainable Australia with new investments to encourage the creation of employment precincts in outer metropolitan suburbs, support for regional areas to plan for future growth and housing supply, and new indicators to measure the nation's sustainability needs.

Sustainability, Population and Communities Minister Tony Burke said the Government would invest $100 million for a Suburban Jobs initiative to drive more job opportunities within easy reach of where people live in the outer suburbs of Australia's major capital cities.

The Suburban Jobs initiative will support local and state governments to plan and help deliver employment precincts, manufacturing hubs and multifunction developments close to residential areas in growing outer suburbs.

"The Gillard Government wants hard working Australians to spend less time and money travelling to and from work – every local suburban job is a car out of a traffic jam," Mr Burke said.

"Our patchwork economy means there are some parts of Australia with more jobs than homes leading to high rents, while in others there are more homes than jobs, leading to more traffic congestion.

"The distance of existing and planned housing to employment is a growing problem in a number of our major cities – especially in outer metropolitan growth areas.

"This new initiative is about encouraging new employment precincts in the outer suburbs of our major cities to balance out some of these differences and provide more opportunities for Australians to share in the benefits of our economic growth.

"It's about laying the foundations for a more sustainable Australia and taking steps so that more people in our outer suburbs can get the jobs they want closer to where they live.

"With strong links to other government initiatives, we will work cooperatively with state and local government as they plan and invest for new employment precincts, and help to alleviate the growing problem of distances between existing and already planned housing to employment."

The Budget also invests $29.2 million in a new Sustainable Regional Development initiative to support better sustainability planning in regions that are experiencing high growth.

The Sustainable Regional Development program will support strategic assessments under national environmental law in up to seven additional regional and coastal growth areas.

"This program will improve environmental outcomes whilst also giving certainty to state and local governments and the private sector to invest in housing, infrastructure and resource development," Mr Burke said.

The Budget also includes a package to support Australia's regions to promote the lifestyle and business opportunities in regional areas.

The Government is also introducing changes to the Regional Sponsored Migrant Scheme and making it easier for skilled migrants to progress to permanent residency in regional Australia.

"It's important that new skilled migrants go to jobs and areas where they are needed most, particularly to meet the demands of the resource boom," Mr Burke said.

These initiatives build on the Gillard Government's Election commitment to build more affordable homes in regional cities to relieve pressure on major capital cities through Building Better Regional Cities.

"We need to unlock affordable housing in areas where demand for work is increasing so Australians can benefit from our economy, but also ensure pressure is taken off our busy suburban roads and transport routes through measures to promote regional migration," Mr Burke said.

The Gillard Government will develop a set of Sustainability Indicators to measure Australia's progress towards more sustainable communities with $10.1 million in the Budget for a new Measuring Sustainability Program.

"One of the biggest challenges to improving our sustainability is getting an accurate picture of how we are tracking against the key factors that determine sustainable communities," Mr Burke said.

"You can only manage what you can measure. All of us - governments, the private and non-government sectors and communities - need the right information to be able to make decisions in line with this goal."

The Measuring Sustainability Program will involve development of a set of sustainability indicators that can be factored in at a regional level to better inform decision makers.

The Government will work with key data agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with data to be regularly released at national, state and where available regional level.