If you’re concerned with the amount of time stuck in traffic each day – things are only getting worse.
I don’t need to tell this to the millions of Australians trying to get to work each day on congested urban roads and crowded public transport.
While those Australians who live in our regions and outer suburbs where public transport options are limited – or non-existent – definitely don’t need a reminder.
Three independent reports in the space of a few weeks tell the same story – congestion is rising and the Morrison Government isn’t doing enough.
Infrastructure Australia’s third national audit confirmed the cost to our major cities of road congestion will more than double by 2031, while the cost of public transport crowding will increase fivefold.
The audit also confirmed many Australians have difficulty accessing affordable, effective transport, notably low income households, people with disability, older Australians, people in regional and remote communities and those in the outer suburbs of our major cities.
Last week, the Regional Australia Institute revealed that by mid-century our four major cities will have massive outer suburban populations and projected huge blowouts in commute times under a business-as-usual approach.
The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey found that over the past decade our average weekly commute rose from 3.7 hours to 4.5 hours.
Commuters in Sydney are experiencing a massive 71 minute average journey to and from work each day, while Melbournians are spending an average of 65 minutes on their commute.
Australians living outside our capital cities fare no better, with huge blowouts in average daily commute times across the regions.
More Australians are facing longer commutes, with 1 in 6 Australians travelling more than two hours to and from work, up from 1 in 8 in 2002.
These sluggish numbers don’t just harm commuters – they make Australia less attractive to international investment.
Infrastructure Australia found we’ve suffered sharp drop in international competitiveness, plummeting nine spots on the ease of doing business rankings to 18th.
At this critical time, Australians are demanding the Morrison Government produce a real plan to protect jobs, curb rising congestion and stimulate the economy.
Instead, for six years this Government has left the heavy lifting to state governments and ignored calls from the Reserve Bank and Infrastructure Australia to fast-track investment.
This Government talks a big game on infrastructure – in reality they delivered $5.1 billion less than promised over the past six years, and less than 30 percent of their so-called $100 billion infrastructure program is budgeted for the next four years.
To add insult to injury, their infrastructure program doesn’t even actually add up to $100 billion!
Last Friday, the Reserve Bank Governor said fast tracking infrastructure investment was a matter of politicians’ aspiration for our country.
The Governor said – do we aspire to an Australia that is better than ok?
For Labor, the response is simple. We want Australia to be much better than ok.
We’ve said for months we want to work with the Morrison Government to bring forward projects to support the sluggish economy and bust congestion.
The only response from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Michael McCormack is that ‘you can’t do it all at once’ – a ridiculous assertion that no-one is putting forward.
Parents stuck in traffic in our big cities waiting to get home to their children deserve better than ok.
Our freight and logistics sector – the lifeblood of the economy – deserve better than ok.
Construction workers and those who want to get a job deserve better than ok.
Until Prime Minister Morrison turns off his handbrake on infrastructure investment, Australians will be stuck in the slow lane.
This opinion piece was first published in The Australian on Wednesday, 14 August 2019