Participants were shocked recently to hear Ms Prue Digby, Deputy Secretary, Planning and Local Government, Department of Planning and Community Development include in her paper on "housing a growing population" a section on "eliminating the NIMBY culture" at the Informa Australia "Population Australia - 2050 Summit." Article by Julianne Bell.
By Julianne Bell
On Monday and Tuesday 26 and 27 September 2011 I I - representing Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., I attended the second annual Conference organised by Informa Australia Pty Ltd entitled, “Population Australia - 2050 Summit”. This was a national conference and included public servants from Government (State, Federal and Local); eminent academics; and representatives of the business world and the housing industry plus a smattering of representatives of community groups. (Several of us were able to attend only because a benefactor provided us with the admission tickets or Conference fees.)
Ms Prue Digby, Deputy Secretary, Planning and Local Government, Department of Planning and Community Development included in her paper on "housing a growing population" a section on "eliminating the NIMBY culture". Participants were shocked as we considered that this was confrontational and indicated a contemptuous view of the community by a member of a Government Department. We were additionally shocked when she presented a solution stating that 30% of future population growth could be accommodated in "infill" housing in established suburbs. (Dr Bob Birrell of Monash University labels this "opportunistic infill" by developers.)
I - Julianne Bell - asked a question at the end of Ms Digby’s speech as follows: “Your Minister. Matthew Guy, advised us after the election that future density of development would be directed to the inner city, for example in developments such as E-Gate and Fisherman’s Bend and not in the suburbs. Yet after the election we are seeing high rise or high density (housing) proposals in Bayside, Banyule and Boroondara City Councils. Can you clarify what are your policy directions (concerning infill housing)?
Ms Digby refused to answer the question and said “You had better ask him yourself” and with that she left the podium. Unfortunately, we cannot give you a tape of her statement as Ms Digby insisted that Informa and Sustainable Population Australia Inc., who chaired Day One of the Conference, delete their recordings.
Mark O'Connor (Professional Poet and Author of "Overloading Australia") spoke at the Conference on "Environmental and social implications of a 'Big Australia' . He commented to me on Prue Digby's statement about "infill" in suburbs. He said: " Densification cheats residents out of quality of life" and that "it indicates the constant decline of our living standards".
We are seeking clarification from the Minister for Planning about increased density in established suburbs using infill and on promoting high rise along transports routes (tram, bus and rail) and around stations as this is contrary to his stated policies after the election. The questions are topical ones in Banyule, Boroondara and Bayside to name a few suburbs.
Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.