On Wednesday 21 June 2023, I made a speech in Federal Parliament calling on the Government to prioritise building social infrastructure and services instead of more and more expensive road projects. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.
E WATSON-BROWN: Last week I met with many local government representatives from all over Australia who were gathering in Canberra for their National General Assembly. The theme was 'Our Communities, Our Future'. They're looking for new federal programs and policies, and of course funding, that will support councils to build stronger communities.
A common theme emerged in our meetings—the desperate paucity of community centres and gathering places, particularly in our fast-growing periurban areas. I was impressed with ideas about community wellbeing hubs, focusing on health, wellbeing, employment and education services. This really resonates in my electorate of Ryan, where we have an urgent need for community centres, particularly in Kenmore, Moggill and The Gap. While providing these vital support services, meeting places, health and social support, truly local centres also reduce the need to travel and the consequent costs, time and road congestion due to poor public transport.
One of the universal issues that councillors raised with me is that expenditure is hugely focused on road infrastructure, far outweighing that on social infrastructure—mad! What will expensive road infrastructure do but create more traffic? Just transferring this funding to social infrastructure would be truly transformative for these communities. I implore Labor to prioritise this. Simply build services where people actually need them.