Unemployment and long commutes stymie outer suburbs

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Council of Mayors of South East Queensland executive director Peter Olah and Urban Development Institute of Australia (WA Division) chief executive officer Allison Haile at the congress in Mindarie on Monday. Picture: Anita McInnes

RISING unemployment and long commutes for residents who do have jobs are two reasons the City of Wanneroo is focused on securing more infrastructure funding.

Opening the a National Growth Areas Alliance congress in Mindarie on Monday, November 14 City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts, who is also deputy chairwoman of the alliance, said the unemployment rate in the city was 8.5 per cent.

Cr Roberts said unemployment had increased by 81 per cent since the 2013 State Election and in some pockets the unemployment rate was 20 per cent.

She said the city, which already had a population of 198,000 was expected to be home to 200,000 residents by the end of the year.

This made it the fastest growing local government area in Western Australia and one of the fastest growing areas in Australia.

“Fifty-five per cent of our growth is expected to be in Yanchep and surrounding suburbs – Alkimos, Eglinton and Two Rocks,’’ she said.

“The Yanchep city centre has been identified as an emerging strategic metropolitan centre.

“It not only provides a regional function for the northern part of City of Wanneroo, but also provides accessibility to regional facilities for the Wheatbelt region and beyond.

“In addition, Yanchep’s tourist potential has always been strong.

“It is important for Yanchep to be carefully planned to ensure its ultimate development potential, to ensure connectivity between residents and to make Yanchep an even more attractive place to be.”

While people were attracted to the Yanchep area by the beautiful coast and beach areas and the national park they often had to travel to find employment, which meant they had little time for leisure or volunteer activities.

The State Government recognised the problem but policy did not create jobs and action was needed.

Later this month the city will hold a jobs summit targeting 100,000 jobs.

Private and public investment in infrastructure was needed otherwise residents would have to continue with long commutes.

“For the City of Wanneroo, this means investment in the extension of the Mitchell Fwy to Yanchep in the north, and the extension of the rail line, again, north to Yanchep.’’

She said the city’s Connect Wanneroo campaign would run until the State Election with residents encouraged to email and send postcards to politicians and candidates.

The city was responsible for more than $6 billion of Gross Domestic Product in 2015 but it was still a challenge to create enough jobs for residents.

To try and meet the challenge the city was working with educators and businesses to build business capacity, provide local education and training opportunities and match local skills to local jobs through many different initiatives.

Cr Roberts said the consistent and cost effective supply of clean energy would play an important role in urban and industrial development in the next five years and there was great  potential to have alternative energy sources.

The city has some of the biggest greenfield areas in the metropolitan area and in Neerabup the biggest single industrial area in the north of the metropolitan area there was the potential to create 20,000 jobs.

Most of the Neerabup land was owned by the State Government and the city.