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Six new suburbs to be inflicted on Melbourne by Matthew Guy, Baillieu Government

Growth, the ultimate dictator: "There seems to be no language that get’s through to our governments in Australia who, it seems are addicted to growth. It’s as though growth is all we can do. We may know of nothing else."

Matthew Guy's plans for Melbourne's Green Wedges

In this land where once many of us enjoyed bushwalking, helping our neighbour, and didn't like pretension, we are now ruled by bodies with surreal names like "Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee" and "Growth Areas Authority," which have replaced the local governments that once answered to residents and citizens. The department of planning and its committee offshoots are peopled by petty privately remunerated bureaucrats, with little apparent loyalty or feeling for this country or its people. Melbourne and Australia are becoming like the movie, Brazil.

It's slash and develop for the foreseeable future if the global economic tidal wave of doom fails to save us from what Matthew Guy announced today in his two press releases, "A logical approach to planning for Melbourne's growth," and "Managing Melbourne's Growth." (on 12th and 13th of June)

"Couched in terms to minimise the full and bloody impact on wildlife and the repressive consequences for democracy, the Minister for Planning's department was keen to portray its planning decisions as politer and more careful than those of its similarly destructive predecessors, the Bracks and Brumby governments. The truth is that, if the Baillieu Government had really been different, it would not be going ahead with plans to massively enlarge Melbourne and to continue unwanted and unsustainably high levels of immigration. It would simply put a cap on building permits and thereby stop permanent moves to Melbourne.

We are to have six more suburbs in places where agriculture or nature currently reside. What is this madness?"

Sustainable Population Activists Australia (SPAA)

How far will this dumbed down developer economy drag us down?

"The Liberal Government, like the Labor Government before them, seems bereft of any policies to enhance quality of life. Victoria needs sustainable economic development based on productive innovation and diversity of economic opportunities. All the Liberal and Labor parties can offer is a dumbed-down economy reliant on evermore short term housing projects that degrade our environment. Where does Mr Guy’s overdevelopment and sprawl end?"

William Bourke, National Convenor, Stable Population Party


"Planning Minister Matthew Guy in 2 of his Media Releases today (Managing Melbourne’s growth and “Growth Corridor Plans to Manage Long Term Growth) waxes enthusiastic about yet more urban sprawl. This time, it seems it will be “sophisticated” “attractive” with “great town centres” “services” offering employment, and access to local jobs etc. etc. and will see us through “the next 30-40 years”.

The message however is really sad. There is no end to the plans for Melbourne’s growth and because of this there is no guarantee at all of Melbourne’s continuing “livability”. Livability depends on access to open space which is being systematically and inexorably taken from the people of Melbourne both in the established suburban areas and at the fringes where we used to escape on weekends. It’s getting to be a long drive to the edge of our city and set to increase.

Under endless new housing to accommodate a greater and greater population, our precious farmland and wild life habitat will continue to be annihilated.

The continuing growth of our population is presented as an inevitability and that our city will continue to grow. It is presented as though we have no choice in the matter. In fact we could stabilize our population over the next few decades instead of setting in place continuous growth.

Imagine if we were to set that in place! We could see the outer limits of our very large city and have some certainty of its final girth. Conflicts between residents and governments, councils and government authorities would be vastly reduced. There may also be some future for our environment. We may have some hope of coping with oil and other resource depletion. There seems to be no language that get’s through to our governments in Australia who, it seems are addicted to growth. It’s as though growth is all we can do. We may know of nothing else."

Jill Quirk, President, Sustainable Population Australia, Victorian Branch

Asset speculation masquerading as economic development

"This form of asset speculation masquerading as economic development just does not work anymore, not even for its proponents. All it does now is disable genuinely sustainable planning options by creating a herd of white elephants that have permanent common law entitlement. Beyond being further trampled in the final death throes of this zombie herd, how do we annul the entitlement?

When will 'decision-makers' begin serving today and the impending future rather than a part fantasy world that ended with the GFC and which will be kept permanently in the past by the realities of Peak Oil?"

Greg Wood, Environmental campaigner


Thanks to the Habitat Advocate for the good picture.


Matthew Guy is more than "managing Melbourne's projected population growth". Our government, in lieu of any real productive economy, is inviting people here from interstate and overseas. Once the land is sold and the houses constructed, people will be drawn here. Just what skills are needed in these 6 new suburbs, considering that it's skilled immigration that is the driver of our population growth? Australia has had low fertility rates since the 1970's, so any population growth is not through natural births over deaths.

It's assumed that by just bringing people here means that the economy will create jobs for them! The jobs now are mainly customer service types, selling services and mainly imported goods - adding to our trade deficit. There's little production left compared to what we had in the past.
As for providing "affordable housing", the 100,000 more people in 30 years will ensure housing prices are kept healthy, with all the competition and market forces. A supply of housing less than the demand is the basis of our State's economy, with revenue from stamp duty and land taxes. It's a self perpetuating and self-consuming economy, one that consumes our natural open spaces, parklands, horticultural food bowls, and wildlife grasslands. The concept of Terra Nullius, that land without infrastructure or housing is non-productive and excess, is alive and well today in Victoria's Parliament House.

Already Victoria is in ecological and economic overshoot, and adding more people will exacerbate our tenuous hold on any "sustainability" we have now.

Australia has had low fertility rates since the 1970's, so any population growth is not through natural births over deaths

This is a common misconception which is explored in Mark O'Conner's Overloading Australia. Australia's fertility rate isn't really low - its currently at around replacement rate. However even with the average fertility rate at around 2 children per women, there are still about twice the number of births as deaths in Australia. This is due to demographic momentum, a consequence of our relatively young population (thanks to the aftereffects of a very high birthrate in earlier decades plus continuous high immigration). I'm pretty sure this myth of deaths exceeding births is deliberately promoted by the Murdoch mass media, amongst others.

Australia’s fertility rate had been falling steadily since the baby boom of the immediate post World War Two period. Many developed nations of the world (such as Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Korea) have low or very low fertility rates, in most cases well below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per fertile woman and notably lower than Australia.
In 2001, Australia's TFR dipped to its lowest ever level of 1.73 babies per woman, consistent with the downward trend in many other OECD countries. Since then, the TFR climbed to a peak of 1.96 in 2008, before dropping back to 1.90 babies per woman in 2009. The 2010 rate was higher than the rate recorded a decade before (1.71 in 2000), and has increased from 2005, when the TFR was 1.76.
In Australia, replacement fertility is estimated to be 2.1 babies per woman. Since 1976, the total fertility rate for Australia has been below this replacement level. Until relatively recently, Australia’s population growth has come predominantly from natural increase. During the majority of the last 20 years, the contribution of NOM (net overseas migration) to population growth was less than half, whereas from 2007 to 2010, it was the major contributor, adding 62%, 65%, 66% and 57% respectively to Australia’s total population growth for each year. It also reflects the recent increases of temporary migrants arriving in Australia.

Our far-seeing ancestors reserved the land for railway lines for future populations.
Now we have sold that land for private housing for the future populations.

Dr Valerie Yule, M.A., Ph.D, Dip.Ed., M.B.Ps.S.

Problems for Melbourne

Problems facing Melbourne
1. Population growth taking over our best farmland. Former ‘green rings’ have been reduced to one ‘green ring’ have been reduced to ‘green wedges’ which get smaller and smaller. The force driving this is profit, and government profit is important. As we lose our industries and our farmland, the source of profit becomes land and housing. These must continually increase in value to provide private and government profit.

2. Asset-stripping. This is Victoria’s major problem today.

- Victoria’s natural resources being ruthlessly stripped to export as if there was no tomorrow.

- Publicly-owned assets privatised - including land, infrastructure, business enterprises.

- Private assets stripped by gambling, so savings are not available for profitable investment or consumer spending.

- Democratic rights whittled away.

- Rights and powers of publicly elected bodies reduced.

3. Human resources. Ways to get rid of hopelessness, lack of energy and interest, apathy, obtuseness, social division etc. These are major reasons for encouraging innovation and an attitude of positive innovation and problem-solving among all citizens, not just the elites.

An idea related to both problems:

It would be worth getting all students in schools/colleges to do projects on the History of Cities and their contributions to civilisation and fights for freedom. Students could select particular cities - if possible, from their home countries, or even their own home towns. Some could study the History of Melbourne and its contribution to world civilisation. Cities led their countries out of medieval feudal oppression, and later were the origins of democratic governments.

Examples of great contributors to civilisation - Athens, Rome, Edinburgh, Florence, London, Vienna, Jerusalem, Paris, Thebes, Istanbul (Constantinople), Syracuse, Beijing, Kyoto, Benares, Timbuktu . . . Small cities and even villages have also achieved great things.

Examples of great struggles for democratic and city freedoms - Paris, London, Rotterdam, Warsaw, Geneva, Seoul,

The project could be carried out through the Education supplements of Melbourne newspapers, reinforced through weeklies like the Melbourne Times.
The winning essays/projects could be edited and published in a little illustrated paperback - Cities, Civilisation and Freedom - for libraries and school libraries and export. Prizes would be copies of the book and places of honour at a TV launching ceremony.

Dr Valerie Yule
M.A., Ph.D, Dip.Ed., M.B.Ps.S.

I love this picture of the chainsaw guy. I’d love to see that in a newspaper as a satirical look at how state governments treat our flora and fauna as well as other things they destroy for development and profit.

The letters below cited from the Age spell it out.

Of course the biggest mistake is to keep immigration at such high levels and the Federal government made it clear they are increasing the numbers.

However, figures in Melbourne show that there is too much being built and it can't be sold.

The developers are undeterred and push for even more land to develop as time goes by and the government have given in to them.

The worst feature is the building on good farm and market garden land - we are going to regret this down the track as food prices go up and you see more imported food in the supermarket. Start reading the labels.

Even Andrew Macleod has spoken from the grave and declared we should have 4 and 5 storey living all across Melbourne. Well the fact is, Andrew Macleod, that we don't want to go up and we don't want to go out - solution is to slow migration down to a sustainable number and then we will all be happy, because we are not happy now.

Mary Drost

Boundary is a rubbery concept

June 14, 2012

DOES the state government have a mandate to open up thousands of hectares of green wedge land and farmland (''Government shifts green wedge boundary'', The Age, 13/6) for housing on the metropolitan fringe? Where is the democratic consultation and what are the long-term benefits of its plans?

What Planning Minister Matthew Guy considers ''anomalies'' were actually planned by the Hamer government to prevent Melbourne becoming a monolith of housing and concrete. There's no ''logic'' in grabbing thousands of hectares of ''logical inclusion'' from green wedges, but there is pure greed for growth.

This extension of the urban boundary will be the fourth time it has been shifted since the Bracks government introduced it in 2002, so there's no real boundary - it's an imaginary rubbery line that expands with market forces and urban obesity.

When no one is in charge of properly regulating natural resources, cities grow in ways that are utterly unpredictable and without regard to optimising resources. Nature functions on balance, and perpetual growth is not natural. We could suffer the same fate as any other species whose habitat is destroyed by the blind pursuit of excesses.

Vivienne Ortega, Heidelberg Heights

Try before you buy

PERHAPS there should be a scheme to allow people to try living on Melbourne's furthest fringes for a week or so to see before they buy if they have the mental and physical stamina it takes. Try for a week driving to work on a scarcely moving freeway. Or be at the station by 7am to get a park and a spot to stand up in the train for 40 kilometres to the city.

Try booking your child into kinder or school and have a look at the sheer size of such educational facilities. (Note that size does not always equate with quality). Sit for hours in the only hospital's emergency department. It is looking less and less appealing isn't it? Perhaps we should encourage the Planning Minister and Premier to live such a week. It might make them less keen to jam more and more people into the city's under-resourced fringe.

Clancy Briggs, Berwick

Toxic consequences

IF I approached the state government with a planning proposal that would not only increase the cost of food, but also the levels of respiratory disease and other health problems, I would be quite rightly shown the door.

But this is what will transpire with the Baillieu government's vision for greater urban sprawl and freeway development, concreting over Melbourne's green wedges and farming belt to increase the costs of fresh produce and the levels of atmospheric toxicity.

The market will now capriciously determine all the worst possible scenarios, favouring short-term housing booms over long-term food security, freeways to the exclusion of rail infrastructure.

You'd think that with a degree in architecture, Ted Baillieu would possess some environmental sensibility that might embrace state decentralisation and a respect for the primacy of planning, but it seems not.

John Ashton, Fitzroy North

A new model sorely needed

PLANNING Minister Matthew Guy says 37,000 lots of land will be developed over 30 years to house more than 100,000 people. This might boost the housing industry, but once the houses are built, there are no guarantees of employment near or far from the houses.

An economy largely dependent on land tax and stamp duty means perpetually being strangled by the challenges of meeting the costs of urban infrastructure, creating jobs in a declining job market, and relying on the cash flows generated by continually stretching the urban boundary. A report by National Australia Bank on Victoria's health says the state faces challenges as the worst performing state, and that's despite churning out more houses and land than we can currently sell. We obviously need a new economic paradigm not dependent on paving over irreplaceable open space just to create more empty houses.

Jenny Warfe, Dromana

Read more:

The Age daily poll question on 14 June 2012 was, "Do youhave faith in the state Government’s urban planning?
90% said, "No."
Only 10% said, "Yes."
And there were 10,587 votes!