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Report on Federation Square Population Forum 23 April 2010

Report on the Federation Square (Victoria, Australia) Population Forum on 23 April 2010, where Mark O'Connor debated Marcus Spiller.

Report on the Federation Square (Victoria, Australia) Population Forum on 23 April 2010, where Mark O'Connor debated Marcus Spiller.

Put on by the City of Melbourne at the suggestion of Mary Drost of Planning Backlash to Councillor Peter Clarke, the Forum was a very well attended event.

The hall was almost full and, from the clapping, it was obvious where the majority stood. They heavily supported Mark O'Connor, co-author of the book, Overloading Australia, Enviro Press, 2009, who spoke very well against the rapid increase in population in Melbourne. He said there are actually 3 elephants in the room - population, climate change and economic growth.

He called the 'ageing population problem' a "proveable sham", noting that we all age exactly one year per annum.

There were five people on the panel.

O'Connor's main opponent was Marcus Spiller, formerly of the Planning Institute and now adviser to the Ministers of PLanning and Housing. He is still pushing Centralized Planning, just as he was back when Minister Hulls was in charge of Planning.

He may well have a lot of involvement in the current Review of the Planning Act, which promotes centralized planning. Spiller is totally optimistic about a bigger population.

Another panelist, Charles Berger, spoke sensibly. He said that we must do away with 'bigger is better' and go for quality not quanitity He said we must preserve threatened species. He described how our water usage would have to drop with higher and higher population numbers. He also said that there is very little evidence linking population numbers and successful economies.

Saul Eslake, seemed to have moderated his economic views. He said that Melbourne would be different in 2050 with 8 million - not marvellous, more expensive, and more crowded. He said business grows with population growth, but it does not mean people are better off. At present we are losing factories and exporting very little from Victoria and importing a lot.

Kelvin Thomson had been asked to be there but was overseas so could not accept.

Planning Backlash was officially recognized by Cr Peter Clarke in his welcome as being an instigator in them doing this forum.

Source: Planning Backlash


Another Clayton's debate on population. Apart from Mark, who was superb, the others on the panel were out of their depth: No discussion of the market imperfections that lead to urban agglomerations overshooting their optimum size or causing excessive centralisation of urban structures; no discussion of the decentralisation alternative; little discussion or criticism of Marcus' multi-nuclei urban structure; no discussion or criticism of Marcus' proposal of increased density (e.g. the escalating costs of high-rise buildings or the widespread opposition to medium density housing).