The property development and construction industry is having a lend of Australia: By promoting massive migration numbers, it keeps housing and land costs high and it keeps its own costs low.
Long term Aussie Residents, including many who have constructed their own park cabins, and are exemplary for living a sustainable lifestyle on limited means, now face the full onslaught of Chinese demographic and economic imperialism acquiesced to by Liberal, Labor and Green politicians. (This article comes from a member of Australia First and Candobetter.net is publishing it because Australia First is attempting to represent these Wantirna Caravan Park residents in its program to support relocalisation and a small population in Australia.)
Chinese purchasers, apparently lacking feeling for the caravan park, or its natural outlook which enhances the local area, want to exploit the land for building and $$$$ speculating on 294 dogbox houses. On current trends they are likely to be sold to prospective Chinese immigrants in the continuation of the large stream we are already experiencing. In this way incoming immigrants will displace the caravan park residents.
Stiff luck to Aussie Residents who are to be booted out to make way!
This abysmal treatment of dispossession results from the politicians opening the floodgates for foreign “investments.”
It is even rumoured that a Liberal Party Chinese Branch for local Deakin Electorate is likely to be formed to enhance support from Chinese money.
Australia First says Stand up for Aussies - No Exceptions! And, no dispossession of Caravan Park residents.
Support the Australia First Petition directing political representatives to
[I] refrain from any redevelopment permits, and
[ii] for Legislation to compulsory acquire the Wantirna Caravan Park for Public Housing Land, under co-operative management including by existing Residents, and
[iii] close down foreign money buying out our Australia.
Estonian House, West Brunswick, 24th February
The crux of this meeting, as presented by Moreland planning staff, is that the previous agreement was voided root-and-branch by the State Government, and in the newly planned Neighbourhood Centres, the allocated zones have been changed somewhat (no-one seemed to recall being given prior notice) and also the previously agreed 3-storey limits (all achieved by quite verbally violent public activity!) have morphed into 4-storey. In the course of the meeting it turned out that 4-storey was not 4-storey mandatory but 4-storey discretionary! The council "hoped" they could make them mandatory. It was impossible despite direct and explicit questioning to find out what was the actual upper height limit is right now, or even if there is an upper height limit.
As previously, there was the muffled threat that this new version of suburban planning, which can only increase occupier density in a municipality with the highest or second highest density in greater Melbourne, was driven by State Government (of a different stripe, but the threat remained the same), and the heavy implication that it might be worse if we did not agree.
There was much volatile discussion around the apparently arbitrary re-drawing of new boundaries---there must always be unfortunate residents who end up next to or surrounded by, possible huge overshadowing apartment blocks whereas across the road it is different.
The Planning guy ( who seemed rather embarrassed; I felt a bit sorry for him) admitted the historically, and also recent, appalling standard of erections in Moreland and also said the Council wished to enforce more stringent standards of good design and superior build quality, but again admitted on questioning that these would also be discretionary.
Others raised the issue of the effect of massive 1-2 bedroom blocks on the current family demographic of this pocket of Moreland. And obviously the failure to account for parallel improvement in infrastructure, most notably public transport but also water, sewage etc. was acknowledged but this point was avoided because all this was a matter for the State and not the Council. Likewise the effect on rates was avoided.
Others had direct stories of fighting developers, achieving modifications on paper which were ignored in concrete, and achieving no redress because what standards there were could be flouted. The stress and anxiety caused by these fights at council and VCAT levels, and the necessity for constant vigilance, were raised quite emotionally by a couple of unfortunates.
An interesting but telling tiny detail was that there were a number of booths set up in Estonian House with Council brochures (the ones with the ridiculously scaled artist's impression illustrating the wide and gracious Boulevarde de Melville). Some residents (who had after all paid for the rent of the hall) also placed sheafs of counter-suggestions and blanks for letters of objection to the proposals in these booths. These disappeared immediately, some were replenished and again they vanished within a minute or two. The presumption is they were taken by council staff who were roving around at all times.
Another interesting detail was that, as far as was visible, we were not graced by the presence of a single councillor.
I went to the one [meeting] at Pascoe Vale neighbourhood Community Hall. People were hostile. They [Council staff] said they were seeking community input for their submission. One resident said;
'Is it going to be like last time when you had the Moreland Rezoning Community consultations. You didn't give an accurate account of our opinions in your submission. No mention how residents opposed increased density, wanted greater protection etc. Instead you said things like, residents wanted better quality apartments etc. What a load of bullshit, you lot are going to do what you want?'
Another lady… said:
'I'm reading through this handout. This is basically a bribe. You're telling us to accept the four storey height limit, because if we don't we'll end up with ten storeys. '
Council officer tried to deny it, but the lady kept pressing and pressing the point that this is a bribe, until the officer admitted in a round about way 'as it stands, developers can apply to build beyond 4 storeys, if we don't have height limits, so we have to put something in place. '
In the draft 1.1 of Neighbourhood Centres Strategy, it states that Plan Melbourne promotes density in defined locations to support a 20minute neighbourhood, where residents will have access to a wide range of local amenities and services. My husband (a Brunswick boy) stood up and said:
'This 20 minute concept was intended for new estate areas. Any residents living in Moreland can already access services and amenities within 20minutes. Within 20min I can be in Brunswick, Coburg, Hospitals in Parkville, Airport West, Essendon DFO, Northland, Moonee Ponds. We don't need density to support the 20min neighbourhood concept. We have it already.’
The artist impression showed block after block of 4 storey apartments surrounding the Pascoe Vale Station, where supposedly people will be able to shop and work near where there live. The station is at the bottom of Gaffney Street hill and commuters take up a lot of parking at the station and in surrounding streets. So where will people park to do their shopping and how many people will walk back up the hill with their shopping? Zilch! They'll go to supermarkets with big car parks. Someone asked if any of these shops and offices, beneath these apartments are going to provide jobs that can pay the mortgage or rent. Are they going to be big volume employers like manufacturing firms in the past, who employed a lot of local residents? Then the officer said:
'The nature of employment has changed from the manufacturing of the past. We're seeing more self employed looking for workspaces close to home. For example, there's a Brunswick artist who is renting a studio close to home.'
Someone sarcastically asked: 'so this artist is going to employ a lot of local people?'
In his Moreland Rezoning submission, Ernest Healy, a former researcher in planning and population at Monash University, has pointed out that 85% of Moreland residents worked outside the municipality. He questioned Council's ability to encourage Moreland residents to work locally.
Questions were also asked about where schools, infrastructure, waste management and services, for example ambulance and hospitals, came into play with all this density. They are becoming overstretched. Strathmore Secondary had to knock back 200 students, including those in the zone. Four portables had to be delivered to Strathmore Secondary and Pascoe Vale Primary, encroaching in playgrounds. Many schools are converting storage areas, locker bays and shelter sheds into classrooms. If density continues, the children won't have a playground. A paramedic I know said hospitals bypasses are increasing…
This madness has to stop. [The mess on] rubbish days in some streets around here is getting worse. So much for the Greens thinking high density is environmentally friendly.
Moreland residents are presently being treated to a new round of ‘consultations’ throughout the municipality, and being indoctrinated by Council staff on the assumed benefits of residential rezoning (radically increased residential densities) and of neighbourhood activity centres as a central feature of the ’20-minute city’. Under this new feudalism, it is expected that residents will access all of their basic material needs and services within a 20 minute walk, bicycle trip, or by public transport. Superficially this may seem a nice idea. On closer scrutiny it is fanciful, so expensive that the necessary additional infrastructure will never be provided, and little more than a pretext for an atrophied Australian business culture dependent upon population growth and capital widening; incapable of building a genuinely modern economy. Selling dirt to China and building a national ponzi economy based on population growth and making each other cappuccinos. Dumb and dumber dressed up as community building and environmental responsibility, but, very politically fashionable – so much so that the left enthusiastically does the economic right’s public relations for it. The Greens on the Moreland Council are a case in point.
That the Moreland Council is conducting a new round of ‘consultations’ on the new feudalism is curious. This is because of the abject failure of the previous round of ‘consultations’ on residential rezoning under the Napthine Coalition government and the subsequent betrayal of Moreland residents on the issue by the Andrews Labor government. The overwhelming message from residents to the pro-density fundamentalism of Council and the Victorian government the first time round was an emphatic rejection of higher residential densities. At the time, the resounding rejection of higher densities by residents served to expose the faux democratic sentiment of the Council planning elite, when Council was subsequently advised, in an official report on the rezoning consultations, that Council should not feel bound to follow mainstream opinion on the rezoning issue anyway.
The latest round of faux consultation is all the more curious because Council’s 2014 rezoning proposal (put to the Coalition government in mid-2014), which at best represented a compromise between the densities that the Moreland city planners were promoting and resident objections to higher densities, was subsequently rejected by the new Labor planning minister, Richard Wynne. As detailed below, the newly elected Victorian Labor government essentially gutted the Moreland compromise rezoning proposal of the key measures that would have preserved some semblance of low-density neighbourhood character in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
As thing stand, the current ‘consultations’ are being conducted in a climate of angry disbelief on the part of residents who carry feelings of insult from being treated contemptuously the first time round. Yet, Council and the Victorian Labor government simply proceed as if residents have the word ‘idiot’ tattooed on their foreheads.
From late 2013 to mid 2014, a drawn out and at times heated struggle took place between various resident groups within the municipality of Moreland and the Moreland City Council over the implementation of new residential zones, which foreshadowed a radical increase in residential densities within the City.
Prior to the demise of the Bracks/Brumby Victorian Labor government in late 2010, Labor had indicated that it would pursue a policy of limiting residential growth in some suburban locations within Melbourne, facilitating rapid residential growth in other areas, and allowing intermediate growth in others. On coming to government, the Coalition ran with this three zone residential policy approach, which became a source of heated, ongoing contestation in several local government areas. Moreland was amongst them.
Under the Coalition Government, local governments were charged with formulating proposals for the implementation of three residential zones largely differentiated by the levels of density that each zone would facilitate. Moreland city Council therefore also undertook this task. Generally, the Council and Council planning staff showed themselves to be enthusiastic advocates of increased residential densities, despite resident resistance, on the misguided premise that this would represent municipal progress.
After a series of exhausting public consultation meetings, conducted by the City of Moreland, where the overwhelming sentiment of residents was that increases in residential densities should be kept to a minimum, particularly in the ‘low density’ Neighbourhood Residential Zone, the Moreland Council lodged a rezoning proposal with the Rezoning Advisory Panel of the then Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy.
The proposal that was lodged was a significant compromise, which many residents considered unsatisfactory in so far as it allowed for residential density increases in excess of that considered compatible with the preservation of valued neighbourhood character. Nevertheless, key aspects of the Moreland Council proposal, which rendered this compromise acceptable in some degree to some residents, were the inclusion of minimum lot sizes for new dwellings and minimum private open space requirements in the Neighbourhood Residential Zones (the proposal formulated two variants of this zone – one for the North and one for the South of the municipality). These provisions would have facilitated a significant increase in housing stock within the ‘low-density’ Neighbourhood Residential Zones, while still preserving a semblance of neighbourhood character. In most cases, these provisions would allow single detached dwellings on a single lot to be replaced with two, and in some cases three dwellings.
As the Moreland Council proposal had not been accepted by the Napthine Government before it lost office in late 2014, the proposal subsequently came before the newly elected Andrews Labor government and Planning Minister, Richard Wynne.
Wynne accepted the Moreland Council proposal, but only after the minimum lot size and minimum open space requirements had been removed from the proposal. Therefore, what was already a tenuous compromise between the aspirations of the majority of residents and the pro-density predisposition of the Moreland Council proposal was substantially undermined.
Wynne’s removal of these provisions has effectively gutted the hard won compromise reached between Moreland residents and the Council by mid 2014.
A number of issues are raised about the Minister’s bastardisation of the Moreland residential rezoning proposal.
1. The removal of minimum lot size and minimum private open space provisions of the 2014 compromise rezoning proposal has essentially removed any meaningful protective measures against the type of residential density increases that the majority of residents see as an attack on their areas' liveability. Unwanted development will continue unabated, perhaps now even accelerated. It is simply insulting that Council now describes the Labor Minister’s prescription of 4 dwellings per lot (regardless of lot size) as a formula for ‘minimal’ change. Under these conditions, even in the lowest-density zone, the change will be drastic and destructive of the neighbourhood character that most residents seek to preserve. Such language is bureaucratic manipulation at its worst – again, taking the public for fools.
2. In Opposition, Labor Party figures at times aligned themselves with resident protests against proposed Coalition density increases. That a Labor Government should subsequently impose a rezoning outcome worse than many residents would have expected from the Coalition will almost certainly breed cynicism towards Labor in Moreland at a time when Labor should be presenting itself a Party of meaningful alternatives. This is a missed opportunity. One Victorian Labor parliamentarian was silly enough to add insult to injury to assert to a meeting of informed residents that Labor had saved them from the residential density excesses they would have suffered under a Coalition government.
3. Victorian Labor now represents a greater threat to suburban amenity in terms of density and over development than the Coalition had been. Residents may now begin mobilising against Labor in the same way they did against the previous Coalition Government. Labor party members and supporters will be amongst those mobilising against the Labor government on this issue.
4. Victorian Labor appears to have learned nothing from residents' fierce opposition to the proposed residential density increases under the Coalition government. Labor has just picked up from where the previous unpopular Labor minister, Justin Madden, had left off, as if there were no history in between. The take away message from Richard Wynne's treatment of the residential density issue in Moreland is that the Labor government offers no alternative to the Coalition and has no regard for the struggle of Moreland residents against the contempt of the Coalition government on this issue.
5. The negative impacts of rapid population growth on urban amenity, and growing metropolitan dysfunction, played a significant part in the downfall of the Brumby Labor Government in 2010. Given this, it is extraordinary that the current Labor Government had demonstrated a willingness to ignore the aspirations of residents in a way that will almost certainly reduce its chances of winning the seat of Brunswick at the next Victorian election. Some of the most fierce opposition to increased residential densities was from West Brunswick.
What is Minister Wynne’s attack on suburban amenity in Moreland likely to yield in terms of the built environment? Established separate detached dwellings in Moreland are now dropping like flies as small scale, medium-density developers run riot, reaping the windfall benefits of reckless policy. The photo below provides an example of what is likely to become the norm. This site is just under 570 square meters, which until recently had a modest single detached dwelling on it, with a small yard and garden. Whereas under the Moreland City Council’s original rezoning proposal, this site would likely have been allowed only a single double-storey dwelling, in keeping with Richard Wynne’s bastardisation of the Moreland rezoning proposal, permission has been granted for three double-story townhouses.
Despite the Minister’s fatuous claim that Labor’s rezoning provisions in Moreland will protect valued neighbourhood character against over development, Labor has now ensured the continued destruction of the neighbourhood amenity that the majority of residents wish to protect. Political sophistry at its worst. It is little wonder that many Australians rank politicians with used car salesmen.
Even given the irresponsible levels of population and household growth expected under current immigration settings, in all likelihood, the estimated increase in dwellings required for Moreland would have been achievable under Moreland’s original proposal to the Coalition government in 2014. Wynne’s decision seems to be pure ideology: increased residential density is ‘good’; low-density is ‘bad’.
It is not surprising that Wynne was a senior advisor to former Labor Deputy Prime Minister, Brian Howe, in the early 1990s. Howe was a zealous advocate of ‘urban villages’, the antithesis of low-density, garden suburbia. To ‘urban village’ ideologues, including those on the Moreland Council, resident wishes are an obstacle to be overcome, not something to be respected. Labor, it seems, is quickly digging itself into a political hole again on urban policy.
Last year I did research into, and gave speeches about, the public health benefits of public open space. [See also, "Kelvin Thomson: Too few trees make high-density Coburg and Glenroy risky during heat waves"] My view about the importance of this is reinforced by recent statements in the Moreland Leader by University of Sydney Associate Professor Tonia Gray that research shows that neighbourhoods with more green spaces are much healthier and socially cohesive. She says, "Nature has a calming effect, it recalibrates your body. Australian kids spend an average of 52 hours a week in front of a screen but an average of 40 minutes outside". (Originally published at http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/melbourne-heat-island-effect.html)
The importance of trees and vegetation cover is also reinforced by research calling for Melbourne suburbs to increase their tree cover to combat rising temperatures. The urban heat island effect occurs when built-up areas with surfaces such as roads, concrete and buildings absorb heat on hot days. It is dangerous to public health. In 2013 and 2014 over 400 Victorians were admitted to hospital for heat related illness. Researchers say "heat islands" are only going to get hotter unless more green spaces are incorporated.
Given this, it is folly to allow dual occupancy, multi-unit and high rise developments to lead to the cutting down of trees and shrubs and the paving over of open spaces which are presently cooling Melbourne down. We need to push back against plans by property developers and council officers to allow more buildings in what are already built up suburbs.
As was the case in 2007 when the previous Census Report revealed that Canada led all G8 countries in population growth, the results of this latest Census Report for 2006-2011 were greeted by media commentators and politicians alike with glee. It is as if we had won a trophy for achievement. But growth is not a solution, it is the root of our problems, and Canada's rapid population growth rate is cause for shame, not pride.
Whoopee! Canada Wins The Trophy For Reckless Growth
So, according to the latest Stats Can news, Canada had the highest population growth in the G8 since 2006. If we are to believe the tone in which that news is being reported, Canada has just won a contest and all Canadians should be cheering. By that reasoning, China and India should get a lifetime achievement trophy for population growth. While the Chinese have realized that unending population growth is a dangerous goal and have made concerted attempts to rein their numbers in, India has not. And Canada seems to think increasing its population is something we can't do fast enough.
Immigration Not A Cure For Rural De-population
I was interested to read the research provided by population expert Peter Goodchild. He compared the 15 Ontario cities that had the lowest unemployment with the 20 Ontario cities that have the lowest house prices. The two lists appear mutually exclusive.
Through the prism of my own personal experience and in the light of the Stats Can Census Report, I conclude the following.
There are advantages to living in economically “depressed” localities. One of them is that the cost of housing is lower. Since housing costs for the typical Canadian can eat up anywhere from 40% to 70% of disposable income, if those costs (in the form of mortgage payments, rents and/or property taxes) are lower, then so is the cost of living. Of course, if you are unemployed and living in a depressed area, these lower housing costs do not suffice to offset your lack of income. This is the reason that so many young people have left smaller rural or hinterland communities in Canada, communities like mine, which were once buttressed by a strong resource industry (forestry, mining or fishing). The latest census report, which takes a snapshot of the country’s demographic profile for 2011 is therefore somewhat deceptive. Yes, Canada has the fastest growing population in the G8 group, having grown 6% between 2006-2011, but the rampant growth in some major urban centres conceals the rapid de-population of outlying areas, which have lost their economic foundation. As demographer Ryan Berlin of “Urban Futures” put it, people are caught either in an upward spiral or a downward spiral. So what is the answer?
Well, it is certainly not to continue promoting rapid population growth through mass immigration--- for several reasons. We may be able to encourage and entice immigrants to depopulated regions, but it is doubtful that we can ‘direct’ them there permanently, given the mobility rights that are guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After all, there is a reason why Canadians are leaving those areas.
The Green Contradiction----Disperse People and Concentrate Them
This is something that Green Party leader Elizabeth May seems not to understand. On the one hand, in responding to complaints that Canadian cities are straining under the pressure of government-induced population growth, she has proposed that immigrants be sent to small town regions crying out for people. On the other hand, like other ‘green’ and ‘progressive’ politicians in Canada, she argues that bigger and denser cities can grow and be ‘green’ at the same time. Allegedly, according to the official environmentalist party line, urbanites of such cities have lower per-capita carbon footprints. Therefore, to save the planet we need to “urbanize” all of it and restructure our cities. That is a polite way of saying that we must herd outlying rural people into growing cities and squeeze them in as tightly as we can. While most folks would describe this fate as bleak and claustrophobic, Greens describe it as 'vibrant', ‘walkable’ , 'efficient', ‘eco-dense’ and ‘green’.
Does Herding and Cramming People Into Big Dense Cities Make Them Greener?
Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not care about ‘per capita’ emissions, but TOTAL emissions, TOTAL energy consumption and TOTAL waste. Reducing per capita waste and consumption by half while doubling the population level is absurd and illogical. Moreover, it is not certain that the Green contention about lower per capita emissions is true. If urbanites in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto or London, England for that matter, emit less ‘carbon’, what of the carbon emissions and waste that is expended by the offshore factories that export the products that these affluent, green and progressive urbanites consume? Who should be ‘credited’ with the ecological damage----the producers or the consumers? And what about the End of Oil? Since 1976, when the Science Council of Canada warned us that our population level will be constrained by resource limits, scientists like Dr. Michael Healey have argued for a Population Plan for this country that would take those limits into account. Many analysts like Canada’s Richard Embleton and Rick Belfour would argue that viable post-carbon Canadian cities of the future cannot exceed 20,000 citizens---or thereabouts. That would make Vancouver, which aspires to be the “Greenest City in The World”---and Metro Vancouver, greatly overpopulated.
Higher Productivity, Not High Immigration Will Support Our Social Safety Net
But what about that old chestnut, that we need population growth to support our social safety net, and that continued mass immigration will preserve our age structure? Simply put, that argument is dead wrong, and has been demonstrated to be wrong by at least two studies, one done by the C.D. Howe Institute only a few years ago. What will support our aging population is not more people, or more immigrants or even “more young people”, but higher productivity from the people who work, along with perhaps, an upward adjustment in retirement ages. The problem is, population growth demands infrastructure expenditures that otherwise could have been made in improving productivity.
Imported Skilled Labour Sought While Aboriginal Youth Neglected
And speaking of better training, let’s deal with another old chestnut, that Canada has a shortage of ‘skilled” workers. The truth is, we have never taken a proper inventory of our needs. It is just taken as a ‘given’ that we will be favoured with robust economic growth and that its labour appetites must be satisfied by immigration. But what of the Canadians who have wanted the opportunity to be trained but have been passed over for the quick fix of air-lifting skilled staff from overseas? What also of First Nations youth---a vast untapped, neglected and growing demographic? Have they been offered the education, the trade skills that this future economy will demand? National Chief of the Assembly of Nations Shawn Alteo would answer an emphatic “No!”.
How ironic it is that the politicians of all four major parties and the apologists for the Immigration Industry typically invoke the “We-are-all immigrants. Only-the-First-Nations-people-are-true-Canadians” argument to justify their maniacal determination to pursue 1% compounding annual population growth for Canada? It is obvious that the welfare of these “true Canadians” is not among their top priorities. Instead of locating training and educational facilities and opportunities close to native reserves, which for the most part suffer 70-85% unemployment rates and third world conditions, Ottawa hands out temporary visas by the fist-full to workers that foreign corporations find convenient to import.
Big City Mayors Should Follow Rob Ford's Lead
Meanwhile, big-city Mayors like Vancouver’s quintessentially “green and progressive” Gregor Robertson speak with a forked tongue. On the one hand, they brandish census statistics about their cities’ impressive growth as proof that they are livable and attractive, and boast about their efforts to paint this growth ‘green’ with conservation measures and benign transportation decisions which will be quickly erased by that same growth. On the other hand, they whine about the lack of federal funding for immigrant services, infrastructure and traffic congestion to offset the costs of growth. But never once does Robertson, or any Mayor in the land----save Toronto’s Rob Ford---dare to address the source of these problems----immigration-driven growth. Undoubtedly, anyone with that kind of courage would be damned by the media, with the CBC leading the charge.
Still, politicians should note that Ford didn’t suffer any harm at the polls for questioning unlimited growth, did he? Canada's politicians and the media who have been cheering population growth in the last two days should learn something from that.
February 12, 2012
Mark O'Connor (famous co-author of Overloading Australia) asks, should environmentalists resist Big Australia - and the densification of Melbourne? "In the long run, unless we can stop the endless growth of population and consumption, all environmental battles will be lost. Yet powerful vested interests distort our news and media to make us think growth is inevitable, and that we should live in ever more crowded cities. Mark O'Connor discusses how environmentalists can identify and defeat these forces." Look for the Sustainable Population Australia (Victorian Branch) stall there as well - all weekend and Friday.
Feb 17th 2012 Sustainable Living Festival, 4 pm
At one of the Talks Tents that has been re-named The SHED, Yarra Bank/Birrarung Marr near Flinders St Station
Title: Sustainability versus Australia's growth lobby.
Mark O'Connor asks Should environmentalists resist Big Australia -- and the densification of Melbourne?
In the long run, unless we can stop the endless growth of population and consumption, all environmental battles will be lost. Yet powerful vested interests distort our news and media to make us think growth is inevitable, and that we should live in ever more crowded cities. Mark O'Connor discusses how environmentalists can identify and defeat these forces. Mark, a widely-published poet, is also co-author of Overloading Australia, a book that re-ignited the population debate, and which Dick Smith sent to every Australian State and Federal politician. He blogs at http://markoconnor-australianpoet.blogspot.com/
How Governments and the media dither and deny on population
(Click book image for purchase details.)
Author: Mark O'Connor and William Lines
Greenhouse gases going up. Oil and gas depleting. House prices exploding. Overloading Australia explains why – and how to stop it.
The press of numbers on this continent affects us all – those living, as well as those yet to be born. To talk of saving the environment or of climate change is meaningless if we won’t address population – a subject some think too hot for public debate. In a score of punchy chapters, authors Mark O’Connor and William Lines challenge the myths, expose the facts, and dent the denial industry.
They blow the whistle on population-foolish policies that lead to clogged roads, water shortages, scarce food, and no place for refugees; then provide new and fair ways to think about the issues and to limit Australia’s future population-size.
This is a book that will revolutionize the green debate, and the political debate, on population.
Price: AUD$19.95 (incl. GST), 248pp
Jason Dowling and Clay Lucas' article in The Age (17/7/2009) 'Suburban sprawl costs billions more', presents the problems of population growth as creating urban sprawl that will cost $40 billion. It then highlighting as a "solution", the idea that the density of the existing suburbs should be increased so Victoria can save itself $40 billion. At no point is current population policy questioned or examined. It is simply accepted that population growth will be unstoppable. The article purpose appears to justify the need for increasing density as a "cheaper" solution for Melbourne's growth crisis, without of course calculating the cost, both direct economic cost and the loss of amenity for people already living in Melbourne.
A series of academics are quoted bemoaning the cost of building new suburbs, all of them universally recommending to
"Redirect development from Melbourne's fringe into established suburbs."
As usual the Property Council wants it both ways. In one part of the article it says:
"[The Government] doesn't want to take on the outer-urban property industry."
Once again Property Council - a band of property speculators - accorded guru status by press
Presumably the academic means the Property Council. It then quotes the chief executive of the Property Council Jennifer Cunich
"Anecdotal evidence to us tells that infill development is quite difficult to achieve."
Which I take to mean that it is cheaper for the Property Council members to develop new suburbs, then Cunich says:
"While Melbourne's urban growth boundary should be expanded to accommodate the city's booming population, development in existing suburbs should also be made easier."
So the Property councils wants more growth beyond Melbourne's urban growth boundary and reducing of restrictions for development in existing suburbs, what a surprise!
A sad state of affairs when the only 'serious' newspaper ...
It's a sad state of affairs when the only serious broadsheet newspaper in Victoria is unable to examine such a significant issue beyond one dimension. The article conveys population growth as being inevitable and beyond question. There is no fostering of debate on the issue, only it's consequences in a way that presents the reader with 2 options, one of which has a cost (suburban sprawl) and the other with only benefits (densification of existing suburbs). The problem here is growth per se. Paving over backyards and building multi-story towers is not a solution to a future of climate change, peak oil and water shortages. Building new suburbs is also not a solution to those problems. Stopping growth is the solution, the sooner it is done the more sustainable the future will be for the citizens of Melbourne.