Newly elected president of World Council of Non-Human Species addresses Humanity about the biodiversity crisis. Geoffrey the Giraffe also calls attention to plummeting number of giraffes. (Slava Abramovitch Unsplash)
Newly elected president of World Council of Non-Human Species addresses Humanity about the biodiversity crisis. Geoffrey the Giraffe also calls attention to plummeting number of giraffes. (Slava Abramovitch Unsplash)
"To date, I understand that 2,268 jurisdictions in 39 countries have declared a climate emergency. It is the one issue about which there is widespread global consensus. It presents a common threat to all countries and no country can isolate itself from it. However, to effectively tackle climate change, there must be an equal focus on population growth and the disastrous effect it is having on the earth's natural environment. To date, there is little evidence of governments doing that.
You’re the culprit. Unfolding collapse is down to you. Forget population overshoot. You’re consuming too much. Own it!
Entitled, "Growing Regional Victoria," the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pushing yet more growth in infrastructure and housing on regional Victoria, with the accompanying short-term jobs and destruction of environment, space, and biodiversity. Anyone travelling through regional Victoria (and almost any Australian state) will notice the drab housing estates with their ever meaner lots and devegetated surrounds, wedging miscellaneous drifts of precarious humans desperate for accommodation
Any new inquiry into Australia’s migration program needs to assess the full costs and benefits of population growth, especially the costs to our environment and the risks of collapse. I wish I had a dollar for every pro-population-increase article I have read that begins by telling the reader that Australia is a nation of immigrants, with some 25% born overseas and about 50% with at least one parent born overseas.
Liberal or Labor
It's urban sprawl
Labor or Liberal
Its build up tall
Whoever you vote for
in this state election,
Liberal or Labor
There' ll be no correction
It's grow til we die
It's build them up high
It's fill up the country
And to hell with the sky
Build them tall and urban sprawl: the growth-lobby's blueprint for Melbourne or any other city in Australia
"Sweden has failed to integrate the vast numbers of immigrants it has taken in over the past two decades, leading to parallel societies and gang violence, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Thursday, as she launched a series of initiatives to combat organised crime." Australia, however, oft
Submission to 2021 Heritage and Planning Protection Review
The Queen Victoria Market (QVM) is listed as a significant place on the State and National heritage listings. The Queen Victoria Market is of cultural significance for its ongoing role and continued popularity as a general and fresh meat and vegetable market, shopping and meeting place for Victorians and visitors alike.
Dear Sydney Water, I recently received my latest copy of Waterwrap, and wish to comment on aspects of Sydney water management in general. I should point out that only a tiny minority of your customers are as frugal with water usage as I am, so I am not complaining about being restricted. In fact, my usage is about one third of the statistical average, according to your data. This is despite my land being larger than most suburban blocks and my ability to grow so much food
Hi to you all, and particularly to those of you who I do not know. As you will have heard from Mary, I have agreed to take over as Convenor from Mary Drost OAM. In 2005 Mary established Planning Backlash as an umbrella organisation and coalition of community and resident action groups.
The video inside the article is a record of the third ARAG (Ashburton Residents Action Group) public rally over six years in the residential battle to protect Markham Estate and the surrounding streets and environment.
What was once a 56 apartment, two storey public housing community in Ashburton turned into a six year nightmare for residents when the State Government announced it would be replacing the 56 apartments with 240, of which only 60 would be for public housing; the rest to be sold privately for a fortune.
This outrageous proposal galvanised the community and they have been fighting for a fair go and consultation ever since.
Speakers at this rally included ARAG leaders Ian and Rita, David Davis (Shadow Planning Minister), Cr Garry Thompson (Mayor of Boroondara) and Clifford Hayes MP (Sustainable Australia Party).
In attendance was Will Fowles MP (Member for Burwood) who declined to speak.
Advocacy has now resulted in this proposal being reduced to 178 public housing units (non-privatised) however the commercial size of the development in a residential area is what the residents are still battling.
No developer in Melbourne could build this development, however the State Government have exempted themselves from planning laws. In addition, they have recently passed more laws that remove any requirement for consultation or planning application.
This is a dictatorship, and the residents of Ashburton are fighting back alongside every other Victorian community being overridden by this State Government.
These developments must be reduced in size, residents must be treated fairly, and planning must be returned to Local Government who understand their suburbs.
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) are partnering with filmmaker Maxine Trump on the Australian premiere of her award winning film To Kid or Not to Kid in Melbourne and Perth on the 26 and 27 February. The documentary is being screened as part of SPA’s ‘Stop at Two’ campaign. This will be the first time the film will be screened in theatres before being released on Amazon Prime on February 27th.
SPA National President, Sandra Kanck, says the aim of the campaign is to normalise the choice of having small or childfree families.
“The choice whether or not to have children is one of the biggest decisions any individual or couple will make in their lifetime,” says Ms Kanck.
“This decision is often swayed by family and social factors that have traditionally encouraged larger families. It is clear, however, that overpopulation is playing a very significant role in humans’ unsustainable impact on the planet, including climate change and these matters are now bearing on the decisions made by many to have smaller families or no family at all.
“As an environmental NGO, we advocate for smaller families as one solution towards reducing pressures on the Earth and support those who go down that path,” says Ms Kanck.
“We applaud director Maxine Trump for turning the camera onto her personal life to bravely dive into the taboo and stigmatised topic of child-free living and to explore the reasons behind this choice,” she says.
“As Director Trump has herself declared ‘’’Why can’t we talk about not having kids?’ We think it’s about time we did.”
Ms Kanck also advised that this month will see the launch of Childfree Magazine, founded by Brisbane based Tanya Williams, author of A Childfree Happily Ever After.
“The launch of this new magazine is another timely contribution towards a less judgemental world where it’s OK not to have children,” says Ms Kanck.
“To Kid or Not to Kid” will be screened in Melbourne on February 26, 08:30 pm at Cinema Nova, bookings here. It will be screened in Perth on February 27, 06:45pm at Bassendean Community Centre in cooperation with Transition Town Guilford, more information here. The Melbourne screening will also include the short film ‘Talking Heads: Choosing to Have Children….or Not’ made in house by SPA.
For more information, please contact Michael Bayliss, SPA communications Manager, at [email protected]
Tanya Williams, Chief Change maker at Childfree Magazine>/em>, can be contacted at the website.
The 'densification' that planners push to accommodate overpopulation drives increasing water pollution risks, along with climate change. “Generally, we expect urbanisation to increase groundwater DOC (dissolved organic carbon) concentrations by up to 19 per cent, compared to agricultural or natural land use, likely as the result of contamination – for example, through leaking septic and sewer systems.” (Research paper.)
Climate change and urbanisation are set to threaten groundwater drinking water quality, new research from UNSW Sydney shows.
More than half of the world’s population faces a looming threat to the quality and availability of their drinking water because climate change and urbanisation are expected to cause an increase in groundwater organic carbon, a new UNSW study has found.
The research, published in Nature Communications overnight, examined the largest global dataset of 9404 published and unpublished groundwater dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations from aquifers in 32 countries across six continents.
DOC is a naturally occurring component of groundwater, but the higher its concentration, the more difficult and expensive it is to make groundwater drinkable. In Australia, groundwater is widely used as the main source of drinking water for many cities and towns.
Lead author Dr Liza McDonough, of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre at UNSW, said the study forecasted elevated DOC concentrations because of projected changes in temperature and rainfall due to climate change, as well as increased urbanisation.
“We identified groundwater DOC concentration increases of up to 45 per cent, largely because of increased temperatures in the wettest quarter of the year – for example, in a number of south-eastern states in the United States. We predict increases in DOC in these locations could increase water costs for a family of four by US$134 per year,” Dr McDonough said.
“Other areas such as eastern China, India and parts of Africa already experience severe groundwater contamination issues. These may be further compounded, particularly in south-eastern China, by groundwater DOC increases associated with large predicted increases in temperature in the wettest quarter of the year by 2050.
“Generally, we expect urbanisation to increase groundwater DOC concentrations by up to 19 per cent, compared to agricultural or natural land use, likely as the result of contamination – for example, through leaking septic and sewer systems.”
The research, a collaboration between UNSW, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Southern Cross University, British Geological Survey, and the University of Bradford, found four major contributing factors to groundwater DOC levels: climate, land use, inorganic chemistry and aquifer age.
Dr McDonough said increased groundwater DOC, whether naturally occurring or due to contamination, also posed a threat to human health.
“Groundwater is Earth’s largest source of freshwater and provides essential drinking water for more than 50 per cent of the world’s population,” she said.
“But, because most health impacts caused by DOC are related to the formation of by-products of water treatment chlorination and depend on concentrations of other water chemical parameters, the World Health Organization and many countries – including Australia – do not regulate DOC concentrations in drinking water directly.”
Dr McDonough said that while DOC is a naturally occurring, key element of groundwater it could combine with, and transport, potentially dangerous heavy metals otherwise bound to rocks and sediment where groundwater occurs.
“This is a concern when, for example, more than 100,000 lifetime cancer cases in the United States alone can be attributed to drinking water contaminants,” she said.
Dr McDonough said it was important to understand what caused high DOC concentrations in groundwater.
“An increase in groundwater DOC concentration impacts the ability and therefore cost to make groundwater drinkable,” she said.
“For example, we projected a 16 per cent increase in annual household water costs in some parts of the United States because of rising water treatment costs – due to the need to implement additional water treatment measures to remove increased DOC concentrations.
“The decrease in groundwater quality and substantial increase in water treatment costs will also compound existing constraints on groundwater resources, including availability.”
Dr McDonough said the impacts on groundwater DOC levels from climate change and urbanisation, while likely to occur globally, differed by geography and climate.
“Our research found that in arid climates, groundwater DOC concentrations increased with higher rainfall because microbes can better break down organic matter, such as leaves, under warm and increasingly wet conditions,” she said.
“Increased temperatures in arid environments, however, reduced groundwater DOC concentrations because when conditions are too hot and dry, vegetation and organic matter sources are limited.
“By contrast, increased rain in warm and wet environments decreased groundwater DOC concentrations because heavy rainfall dilutes the DOC in groundwater.”
Dr McDonough said she looked forward to conducting further research to determine the best water treatment options for areas where groundwater DOC concentrations are anticipated to increase.
“Our next step is to investigate how the character of DOC changes when you have different aquifer minerals, because some types of organic matter can stick to certain mineral surfaces and ultimately reduce this type of organic matter remaining in the water,” she said.
“This will help provide guidance on the most suitable water treatment options in areas where DOC concentrations are expected to increase.”
Read the full research paper in Nature Communications: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14946-1
People should know about the state government’s amendments to the Land Tax Act. An interesting article was written about it by Michael Flynn QC in The Age of February 17th 2020. regarding the amendment to the Land Tax Act to restrict land tax exemptions on contiguously rated properties only to regional Victoria. See: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/home-owners-could-be-slugged-with-an-unfair-tax-20200213-p540jq.html. These changes have resulted in charging land tax for anyone in metropolitan Melbourne with vacant land contiguous with their place of residence. Until now, land adjacent to your home was exempt from Land Tax if the property was rated by Council as contiguous (i.e. house and land rated as one parcel of land) The new amendment has changed this to now levy the tax on any properties in metropolitan Melbourne which have contiguous vacant land next to a place of residence. (For the purposes of this exercise, Mornington Peninsula also is considered to be metropolitan by the way). A paltry $43 million revenue is anticipated.
We have just received a Land Tax bill for $7,786 for two vacant blocks adjoining our house on the Mornington Peninsula. We currently maintain the two vacant lots as 'Land for Wildlife’ – effectively as our bush garden. The garden provides the last remaining piece of intact habitat in the surrounding estate – and we say provides open space and improves the amenity of the area for all other resident too. Many other affected people might have veggie gardens, sheds, animal runs, chook pens etc.
We spoke to the State Revenue Office asking why the Act was amended, and were advised that there was a land shortage in Melbourne due to population pressures and that therefore the land should be developed. So, clearly this “initiative” is designed to get people with vacant land next to their existing homes to sell the vacant land- or maybe the home as well. The consequences of this are obvious: Developer windfall resulting in more people, more traffic, less trees, lost amenity and privacy etc. etc.
Many people affected by this change to the Land Tax Act might be asset rich but cash poor, living in properties they have owned for decades. The dramatic fall in interest rates is likely adversely affecting their ability to meet their existing costs of living, let alone a new land tax bill in the thousands of dollars. Presumably most affected people in the real metropolitan Melbourne, will have sites valued higher than ours on the Mornington Peninsula so will likely be getting bills for even more $$ than we have. They might have no alternative but to sell up.
I suspect many people would be horrified by this latest effort to destroy suburban amenity and impose social engineering on people who can no longer afford to live where they want to, just so we can jam in more people. It smacks of a desperate attempt by government to please developer mates by freeing up any remaining vacant sites in the suburbs for developers to move in- meanwhile existing residents are yet again the losers.
Surely this is an unfair and unjust tax. It was slipped in without any consultation with affected people or the wider community. It certainly was not flagged as a policy in the last state election, and the predicted $43 million revenue - for all the inconvenience it imposes on home owners and likely environmental and amenity impacts - is paltry in the extreme.
Why, once again, does the ABC avoid the issue of population growth, the primary cause of housing affordability. It is simply a fantasy to believe that adding another 400,000 people to Australia's population every year is not relevant
What follows is the text of a complaint lodged with the Australian ABC regarding the bias in its reporting on housing in a series of segments on the 7.30 report:-
“This week, the 7.30 Report included 4 segments on the above subject.
Once again, the ABC avoided the key issue like the plague.
It can be argued that housing affordability is Australia's greatest problem. Thousands of young couples in particular are having to save for years and years to accumulate a house deposit while prices skyrocket. This puts relationships under strain, and means that they often have to put off having families until they are well into their 30s, while often having to pay back a large HECS debt, and repay large mortgage instalments at the same time.
And it is not only young people who are affected. There are many older women who are caught in a rental trap.And don't get me started on the desperately bad housing conditions being experienced by our indigenous folk.
None of your "contributors" to the segments offered any real solutions, apart from densification, which many people do not want in their neighborhoods
So why, once again, does the ABC avoid the issue of population growth, the primary cause of this problem. It is simply a fantasy to believe that adding another 400,000 people to Australia's population every year is not relevant.
The answer to the problem is to reign in this insane population growth. This is easily done by big cuts to immigration, and encouragement of small families.
This is not the first time I have raised this matter with you. Why do you avoid it. I refuse to believe that ABC researchers are not aware of the problem. It seems clear to me your reluctance to discuss population growth is idealogical, or perhaps you are frightened of being labelled racist. Proposing to cut immigration is not racist unless the proposer is advocating cutting immigration of particular races.
I have 3 children and six grandchildren. Two of my children have managed to break into the housing market, but the housing opportunities for the other seven are very uncertain, and a cause of worry for them as they enter into relationships and try and get on with their lives.
I am very angry that my family members are having to worry about getting a roof over their heads. My anger is made worse by the stupidity and ignorance of the political parties who will not acknowledge the problem. And of course, the ABC is aiding and abetting them by refusing to discuss the issue.
I have noted this week the saturation coverage the ABC has given to the so called sports rorts affair. Yes, that is a case of seriously bad behaviour by the Government, but it pales into insignificance compared to the pressure put on many Australians in obtaining housing. So why does the primary cause not get more attention.
ABC people, you are not doing your job. Your people have been whining in recent times about freedom of the press in particular having a good old bitch about AFP raids on the ABC offices. Well do not expect any sympathy from me. You are guilty of keeping relevant information from the public. It cuts both ways you know. Keep your bloody ideaology to yourselves, and start reporting/ commenting on ALL relevant facts, not just the bits that suit you.
PS And while you are at it, you might like to comment on the fact that the housing affordability issue is worsened by the fact that many Australians own multiple properties. I believe there are 20,000 Australians who own 6 or more investment properties, including many of our politicians. At one stage Barry O’Sullivan, a Nationals MP, owned 50. What about reporting on whether this is having an effect on housing affordability (or are you frightened the Government might cut your budget if you do). It is clearly a serious question as to whether ownership of residential property in particular should be controlled to ensure that house ownership is shared equitably by all Australians.
cc Ita Buttrose, Nicolle Flint, Minister of Communications”
On the nights of February 11, 12 and 13, 2020, the ABC has shown three related 15 minute pieces in its 7.30 Reports, on the subject of housing. These segments have stressed the cost of housing and the gulf that exists between those who are able to afford or who own their house, comparing the situation of people who cannot afford a house, and who are thus obliged to rent. These programs have, however, completely failed to talk about Australia's extremely rapid population growth, which now requires the construction of the equivalent of a Canberra every year, [corrected 15.2.20] just to preserve the ratio of housing supply to housing demand. Most flagrant omission of all, the ABC says nothing at all about the fact that this is intentional government policy. We publish a letter of complaint which was sent to the ABC on this matter.
I am one of the Renter underclass. The 7.30 series that you ran this week was biased and extremely cruel to someone like myself. I pay higher than average rent so am luckier than those lower down on the income spectrum, although I live extremely frugally. The problem is that because I don't yet have a deposit for a home loan, which I could easily be paying off instead of rent I am locked out of the property market while filling the pockets of my wealthy overseas landlord. Due to my mature age I may never have secure housing and the risk of homelessness is a glaring reality for me. You did not mention overpopulation as one of the major causes of high property prices. I'm not surprised because the ABC, as far as I can see, has a policy of never uttering the O word. Secondly why is it fair that someone who already has a home can be helped by the government to build their private wealth while those of us in the underclass are hindered from attaining housing security and endure every privation that accompanies that situation?
The property developers build housing and make sure that the government allows hundreds of thousands of non humanitarian immigrants in each year so that property prices don't fall. Furthermore one of your guests accused certain people of nimbyism. That is unjust. Many people who oppose overdevelopment and the environmental and social damage that it causes oppose overdevelopment everywhere. Another of your guests said that high rise buildings are the answer to more affordable housing because they are more environmentally friendly due to their smaller foot print and they are better socially. Wrong, high rise buildings are more energy intensive and damage the environment. Socially, they generally isolate residents from one another. The ABC needs to be more balanced in it's reporting because the consequence of being narrow in who you represent allows injustices to continue. Talking about overpopulation is not racist as is explained in Katherine Betts' book "The Great Divide".
B. Wildered (Not real name.)
In the Beginning …
Earth’s atmosphere was unbreathable to humans. But that was okay, since there were no humans. Photosynthesising cyanobacteria used sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into food, incidentally producing oxygen. The many microbially-mediated rocks (stromatolites) the bacteria left behind from their halcyon days indicate a cyanobacteria population explosion so vast that it seems likely that simple metabolism accidentally transformed the atmosphere to the one we love and overuse today. This ‘oxygen holocaust’ probably also brought about the fossil status of our inadvertent benefactors around 2.5 billion years ago.
If tiny animals could achieve this, imagine what a lot of humans can do.
Incredibly the evolutionary serendipity from our point of view did not end there because cyanobacteria fats eventually formed the petroleum hydrocarbons which drive the sophisticated combustion engines of trains and boats and planes today.
The human population explosion followed and our activities, combined with energy created by burning the cyanobacteria fats, created accretionary structures on a scale never seen before. We are covering the earth in dead matter, faster than any of nature's services can deal with, and it is said that we are changing the atmosphere into an oven.
Looks like we are going the way of the cyanobacteria.
At the beginning of this month, at the height of the bushfires in Sydney and Gippsland, I had the weird experience of spending two nights in a short-stay apartment building in A'Beckett Street, Melbourne. It was peopled by uncommunicative strangers and completely jerry-built. The handle fell off the door to the 18th floor balcony (lucky I was not outside at the time), the bathroom door kept sliding open unless you put a towel under it, the wifi was unreliable and weak, and the television did not work at all. A'Beckett Street is full of, and surrounded by, such multi-storey short-stay apartments, their mirror-glass neighbours reflecting them endlessly in fractals. I took photos of these broken glass splinters crowded together, group-punching the smokey sky, like angular stomatolites of unprecedented height.
Opposite the short-stay was a classic situation of an abandoned two-storey shop frogmarched between two taller buildings. And this group was dwarfed by a gathering army of giant towers. On every nearby street, more were being built, untidy packaging spilling onto pavements. You could not walk straight down a street because of the debris and the barriers. You could not talk because of the construction noise.
Dead matter. No green spaces, no animals or natural processes - apart from geological ones - to wear these materials down. When they crumble they won't dissolve easily back into the environment; they will be like their own tombstones; a jagged cemetery of human-generated stromatolites.
There was still a little bit of green at Victoria Markets - also doomed to be covered in skyscrapers, if Melbourne planning continues its rapine way with our city.
A friend expressed shock at the density of high-rises in Melbourne, wondering why the laws allowed them to crowd out the sunlight.
But homo economicus is driven blindly to convert land into money, as the cyanobacteria were blindly driven to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. The cyanobacteria left stromatolites and homo economicus leaves giant agglomerations, but it's still just another way of getting food, however indirect.
These paragraphs about cyanobacteria come from the introduction to Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed., Pluto Press, UK, 2008.
Planning Backlash writes: We have an urgent matter in Frankston as Cr Hampton is putting up a Notice of Motion (NOM) at next Tuesday's meeting on 28 January 2020 to reverse Council's decision on the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan of 14 October 2019 to allow instead industrial expansion in the Green Wedge as well as subdivisions for residential use. See happy outcome here.
It's a very lengthy NOM which includes allowing expansion of the industrial area into the Frankston's Green Wedge and allowing that ‘areas of land suitable only for grazing agricultural activities in Precinct 2 ... be better utilised for purposes other than agriculture – e.g. for employment or residential uses’.
The lengthy NOM 8 is in next Tuesday's Agenda for OM 1, 2020, Item 14.5, at:
14.5 2020/NOM8 - Green Wedge Management Plan
On 15 January 2020 Councillor Colin Hampton gave notice of his intention to move the following motion:
1. The authority to write to the Minister for Planning about amending the Frankston
Planning Scheme to include the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan is
2. Council does not proceed with implementing its Resolution of 14 October 2019
concerning the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan.
I hope readers will express their opposition as a matter of urgency by sending emails to this effect to Frankston councillors at:
Michael McLaren speaks with Clifford Hayes, Member of the Legislative Assembly – Sustainable Australia Party’s Southern Metropolitan region Victoria, about his private members bill which proposes significant changes to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 which will give local councils more control of local planning policy and maximum building heights in their municipal districts. Remember Clifford's important bill will be put to Parliament this Wednesday morning (13 November 2019) about 10 or so. Consider coming to show your support by sitting in the gallery for the vote.
Clifford Hayes, MP., of Sustainable Australia Party, asked Mr Jennings MP (Leader of the Government) to investigate selling public spaces to local governments at a nominal amount, given that population growth is driving ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne. Mr Jennings' 'nothing to see here' response smacks disingenuously of avoiding the obvious context of the government's massive population growth-engineering and overdevelopment, which is driving an accelerated reduction in space and all kinds of ammenities, as well as democracy.
Mr HAYES (Southern Metropolitan) (12:11): My question without notice is to the minister representing the minister for finance. I refer to the report in the Age on 9 October by Noel Towell that the government intends to sell off more than 2600 hectares of publicly owned land from over 150 sites in Melbourne and country Victoria. Given the dramatic ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne as a result of population growth of well over 100 000 per annum and the alarming decline in Melbourne’s vegetation cover, will the government investigate offering these parcels to local councils for a nominal amount subject to an enforceable condition that they are turned into, maintained and retained as public open space?
Mr JENNINGS (South Eastern Metropolitan—Leader of the Government, Special Minister of State, Minister for Priority Precincts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (12:12): For the benefit of the house I will just indicate that the Assistant Treasurer is the minister who is responsible, and I will take the question. There is not a minister for finance in the current government, although the function that Mr Hayes has referred to has been the domain of the minister for finance in previous administrations. So with that clarification, in terms of the issues for which Mr Hayes seeks a response, I am certain that the Assistant Treasurer will provide you with a written response.
But as an immediate response, can I indicate to you that there is absolutely nothing that is unusual about the identification of parcels of land across Victoria that may be sometimes considered by the government of the day in relation to what its appropriate public value may be and what alternative use it may be put to. There is absolutely nothing that is unusual with that circumstance. In fact every government does it. They continue to do it on the basis of being aware of the public land estate—there are millions of hectares of public land estate across the Victorian landscape now and there will be into the future—and of identifying small parcels of land that may be able to be put to a multitude of purposes. Some of them may be appropriate in the circumstances that Mr Hayes refers to. Some of them may be appropriate for some form of housing development, some of them may be appropriate for some degree of civic development and some of them may be appropriate for commercial development. It is incumbent upon the state to use its resources wisely in balancing the public interest. It does so on a continual basis and will continue to do so to assess the appropriate way in which we can maximise the value of public land to benefit the Victorian community.
So Mr Hayes may appreciate that. He is certainly a very clear and consistent advocate for appropriate public land values, environmental values and sustainability, and the government should respect that. I believe we do respect that. I look forward to the answer that the Assistant Treasurer will give you to provide you with overall confidence in that. I am not certain whether he will agree to the specific elements of either the terms of transfer or the ultimate use of any parcel of land prematurely, because that should be considered within the appropriate balance of what greater public benefit should be derived and maintained for the people of Victoria, but the Assistant Treasurer may augment my response to you.
Mr HAYES: I have no supplementary question, but I thank the minister and look forward to a written answer.
“This is where we have got to with government-engineered breakneck population growth that also puts property developers and associated professions in charge of planning. 110 golf-courses, which occupy green, treed spaces, in all kinds of areas in Melbourne and its suburbs and another 374 in Victorian regions, now carry hugely increased potential resale value if speculators can get them rezoned for more intensive use. Predictably, golf-course owners and probably management committees are now complaining that they aren’t making enough money. Some of their complaints will be well-founded, because state-imposed population pressure has caused demand for land, water and power, hence their costs, to rise rapidly. If nothing is done, either to reduce population growth, or exempt golf-courses from paying these charges, they will skyrocket.” (Sheila Newman, Population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist.)
After a 2017 discussion paper that not many of us heard about, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has again discreetly invited people to provide feedback to draft guidelines for their Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee, which is composed of property development industry professionals
by Sheila Newman, Population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist.
This is where we have got to with government-engineered breakneck population growth that also puts property developers and associated professions in charge of planning. 110 golf-courses, which occupy green, treed spaces, in all kinds of areas in Melbourne and its suburbs and another 374 in Victorian regions, now carry hugely increased potential resale value if speculators can get them rezoned for more intensive use. Predictably, golf-course owners and probably management committees are now complaining that they aren’t making enough money. Some of their complaints will be well-founded, because state-imposed population pressure has caused demand for land, water and power, hence their costs, to rise rapidly. If nothing is done, either to reduce population growth, or exempt golf-courses from paying these charges, they will skyrocket.
The proposal is outrageous, of course. It is outrageous in scale, in potential irreversibility, in lack of statistics, and in lack of adequate notification of all Australians that something so huge is in train. If a government can provide wide, ongoing promotion of the dangers of bowel cancer, it could have reached more people on this.
It is also outrageous in the impossibility of most Victorians to find the time to contextualise, assess, and reply to the proposal, even if they knew about it.
It is notably shocking in its potential costs to environmental quality and diversity for all Australians.
It is especially outrageous in its potential strategic profit-grabbing by the property development and construction industry, which has positioned itself with government to generate focused benefits in demand from the massive population-growth engineering it has lobbied for so successfully and undemocratically. In the game of mates, the property developers and the state government (which has become dependent on stamp-duty in lieu of a real economy) are organised to receive the focused benefits, but the public will pay – and not just in dollars - the diffuse costs of this massive expansion and intensification.
This proposal, which flags a copious series of case-by-case fights over rezoning golf-courses for development, is a fine example of the kinds of diffuse and hard to identify costs that the public will bear if this goes ahead. The proposal would require Melbourne’s increasingly socially precarious population, already severely stressed by constant change, to endlessly monitor what is happening to golf courses along with all the other continuous development.
We should have the ability to reject out of hand such proposals all at once, in a job lot.
We should not be expected to devote our lives to fighting to keep what we have, against people who are supposed to be protecting it on our behalf.
Who, except developers, who are networked, resourced and organised at national, state and local level, could find out where all the golf-courses are and then attend, in person or by proxy, all the hearings and reviews, and engage in all the processes, that a Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee would apply to each of them? Who else could afford to do this? Who else controls the process?
On the technical side, these ‘planning guidelines’ lack adequate recognition or an overview of the huge natural benefits of relatively undeveloped land. Golf courses have important uses other than golf – as habitat for birds and other fauna, for climate stability, and for the green relief they provide from densely populated spaces. I personally prefer natural landscapes with native plants and animals to golf-courses, and I prefer landscape painting and bird-watching to golfing. Nonetheless, I can see that golf courses are much better for ecology and environment than buildings, roads, and other intensified land-uses. Melbourne, which was planned with large avenues and many green spaces, now lacks green spaces and is choked with traffic. Unfinancial golf-courses, if they cannot be made financial (see further on) should be returned to nature, to provide scarce habitat to our native animals and contact with nature for humans. These golf-courses often got by on the pretext that they would preserve open land and some habitat in the form of golf courses, as a trade-off for more development. “Since 2000 around over 10 new golf courses have been established as the centrepiece of high-end residential developments in Victoria.” No surprise if they want to develop it now.
Given that the Victorian Government intends to keep inviting people to come and live and work in Victoria, anticipating doubling and redoubling of the population, if Victoria has more golf-courses per capita than other states, it will need them, for golf or for return to nature.
The situation is particularly dire for birds – they really need golf-courses. Australia is a land of birds; we have the most extraordinary range. Doesn’t anyone in planning know of our amazing evolutionary history? It is world famous! The majority of the world’s bird species started here, notably perching birds and song-birds. Humans who are able to hear and see birds deeply enjoy this experience, which seems to become more important as they get older. Bird-watching is an extremely popular activity in Australia. Birds Australia has multiple branches and a busy membership. Does the property development lobby/government really want to be responsible for wiping birds out in more and more places, and removing our age-old relation with them? Although birds are equipped to survive in many circumstances, able to move in search of water and food, massive population growth-fuelled development is transforming the sparse green fringes of this land into a hard-surface desert.
The situation for birds in the South East Region of Australia – Melbourne and Victoria – is increasingly difficult. Birds that require nesting hollows are devastated by the destruction of trees. ‘Common’ much-loved species like kookaburras, magpies and willy wagtails are now struggling, and shorebirds are in steep decline. Golf-course land, because it is not intensively used and retains trees, is a vital resource for birds. There are golf-courses in just about every kind of habitat, including near sea-shores.
With regard to strengthening the viability and continuity of golf clubs, governments should reduce or remove the rates paid for land, water, and power, for golf courses (and any other undeveloped land). The government could pay golf-course owners for mitigating climate change and urban island heat effects through their green spaces. Developers should be levied for this purpose in order to compensate the damage that they do.
Development, with its land-clearing and massive use of materials and energy, as well as creating huge carbon emissions, creates clumps and blocks of aggregate dead material. This is hard for organisms to break down, and incapable of re-ordering and reproducing itself. Living things, however, are the only things that can actually reorder energy and materials, in the acts of ingestion, reproduction and cellular repair. The exception here is ‘modern’ human life, because humans come with more and more dead stuff per capita, in the form of roads, buildings, cars, and other consumables. Hence, we need more golf courses, or to return them to nature, more natural spaces, trees, forests, and healthy water bodies to support the organisms and ecologies that can clean up our synthetic concretions.
In this regard, the current economic model which taxes land in order to induce profit-making activity on it, is now a liability. It needs to change in order to promote natural land. State Governments have to get over their addiction to stamp duty. Otherwise, all this land will disappear under tar and cement.
Redevelopment is a bad thing for golf-courses. We have too much development now, and too much human population growth. Any golf-courses that are going to be abandoned as such, should be returned to nature.
Government may need to buy this land from owners of golf-courses who do not want it, and this is a major reason why this land should be excepted from rezoning possibilities. Overpopulation has already drastically overpriced land in Melbourne, even if it is not zoned for development. This makes it difficult and often impossible for local governments to purchase it in order to preserve natural space for Australians. This is why golf-course land and other relatively natural land must not be alienated from its low-use zoning. It must be taken out of the insane speculation cycle, for the thermodynamic reasons stated above as well as the social ones. Speculative gains are not a citizen’s by right.
The ‘guidelines’ have also skewed the idea of open space with social, ecological, and environmental benefits to something always involving some infrastructure, such as ‘playgrounds’ and ‘sports grounds’. It is a form of regimentation as well as an unnecessary kind of capitalisation. As I have intimated, people can enjoy natural surroundings just by walking, and these places can provide habitat for our native animals. They already provide bio-links or wildlife corridors. Any further ‘development’ would reduce the size and viability of these bio-links, which should be increased and consolidated.
If we have to put hospitals on golf course land then we should realise that we have gone too far in our population and development paradigm. Unaffordable housing and homelessness have increased as Australia’s population has grown, especially from 2009 with massively increased its overseas immigration. Once again, unaffordable housing is a sign that we should interrupt our population and development juggernaut.
There are no ordinary people on it who do not have deep involvement in the commercial property development industry. One of them was the secretary of population growth-lobbying APop from about 1999 to 2015. For this reason the Committee should not have the power to say whether or not a golf-course may be considered for development. A cross-section of ordinary people should be able to decide this on a case by case basis. Only after this, in the unlikely event that such a democratic cross-section felt that any golf-course could be let go for development, it might be passed on to the Committee for more technical assessment.
The documents for this golf course redevelopment proposal have rationalised the closure of golf-courses largely in monetary terms, especially noting that some were not making a profit. The proposal seems to have attempted no education of the public on the main reason why, which is that state- engineered population growth had raised the costs of land and water involved in running golf-courses, thus narrowing their profit margin, and making it tempting for them to cash their land in. It is also suggested that people are not playing golf as much as they used to. We are not told why this is, although the 2017 discussion paper suggested that ten new golf courses that established themselves as centrepieces of high-end residential developments in Melbourne, had added to an oversupply. The development industry runs VCAT planning; it authorised those developments. It should return that land to nature. Many other possible reasons present themselves – changing demographics, difficulty in travelling due to congestion, increased fees, subtle discouragement of golfing by owners wanting to speculate, overwork among the financial, and poverty among the unemployed. The point is, we should not allow the developers or the government to goad us into a situation where land-availability becomes so desperate that it must be constantly used and attract a high financial return.
As for redevelopment and the construction industry: The cladding crisis has highlighted the long-known fact that our construction and development industry is largely incompetent, unaccountable, and uninsurable. With respect, it seems quite remarkable that the same industry thinks it should get golf course land or do any more building at all, let alone continue to be in charge of major decisions in Victorian planning.
This golf course redevelopment proposal is very important. It flags a major danger-point that we have reached, preparing to sacrifice something Australians have counted on – natural land. It shows what happens when a government engineers break-neck population growth and then puts property developers in charge of planning. All natural spaces are threatened. The fewer green spaces there are, the more their potential price for resale as developments increase. If you have planning outsourced to developers, as we do in Victoria (and all States) you will finish up with no green spaces, no birds, no native animals, and hugely priced high-rises.
The massive population-growth engineering that our governments/growth lobby are carrying out, with their push for infrastructure and housing, is breaking our democracy. The pace of change is undemocratic because it is impossible for people to effectively engage, let alone democratically participate, and this juggernaut has been set up by an industry that invests all its time in it for massive profit. There is no way that people with normal responsibilities can keep up with what is happening, even when they desperately want to. Elected members of parliament cannot keep up with this either. In Sleepers Wake, Barry Jones MP warned of the danger that we were heading to a time when government would outsource things it could not understand to a technocracy and that is part of what is happening here.
I personally had no desire to make a submission, but I feel I must, if only so people can read my reasons. Just reading the material provided by DELWP was enough to give me nightmares, because I know that DELWP has the bit between its teeth. The property development, infrastructure, and population growth lobby inside and outside of government is waging war on the rest of us in their quest for personal profit and power. The only difference is that they are using bulldozers instead of tanks.
 I am a population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist. I completed a 143,000 word research thesis called The Growth Lobby and its Absence in 2002 on the difference between the Australian and French systems for housing, land production and policies on environment and population. Since then I have edited two editions of The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, 2005 and 2008, a book of articles by different scientists on the subject of the future of energy resources. I have also written two volumes of a planned four volume series entitled Demography, Territory, Law. The titles published so far are Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, and Demography, Territory, Law2: Land-tenure and the origins of Capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2015.
 “Notification was given via letter or email to all golf facilities, local governments, industry bodies such as Golf Victoria as well as all people and organisations who made a submission to the Planning for Golf in Victoria Discussion Paper released in 2017. For more information (and access to the 2017 discussion paper itself) on the Planning for Golf in Victoria process please click here. This process was also publicised on the Engage Victoria website.” Source: Personal correspondence with Michael C. Everett of DELWP. My criticism is that this notification went to local governments and industry bodies and boards in golf, who would not necessarily have passed it on, and who would probably not have looked at or communicated the wider impact of the loss of such spaces to all of Melbourne. Notification did not go to the wider population that will be impacted, or to wildlife networks, such as Birds Australia.
 Stamp duty income for the Victorian Government was $1.284b in 2001/2 and only 17 years later it was $6.933b in 2017/18. Source: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/land-transfer-duty-stamp-duty-statistics
 James Q Wilson in Wilson, J.Q., ed., The Politics of Regulation, Harper, New York, 1980,) classified four types of politics depending on whether the benefits and costs of policies were concentrated or diffuse, and he applied this model to immigration politics. In this way, mass immigration has become entrenched in systems where its benefits are narrowly focused but the costs that it imposes are diffuse (and therefore not easily identified by the public that is paying for them). Narrowly focused benefits mean that those benefiting from immigration are consciously aware of this and are able to recognise each other and organise to keep those benefits flowing. Where costs are diffuse and fall upon a disparate population at many different points in many different ways, they are difficult to identify and there are no obvious political rallying points for the public to organise a protest around. I used this methodology in my research thesis, Sheila Newman, The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, 2002. https://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/file/a3115a39-c50a-4504-8d1f-4aca21be26fd/1/Sheila%20Newman%20Thesis.pdf
 “Planning for Golf in Victoria Discussion Paper (2017). https://engage.vic.gov.au/download_file/3592/907
 State of Australia’s Birds, 2015, Birdlife Australia, 2015; Threatened species recovery hub, National Environmental Science Program, https//www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/news/gimme-shelter-conserving-hollow-nesting-birds
 Tim Low, Where Song Began: Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World, Penguin, 2017.
 State of Australia’s Birds, 2015, p. 11.
 Excerpt from “In the end: Thermodynamics and the necessity of protecting the natural world, Chapter 23 in Sheila Newman (Eds), The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008. See most of the article below:
“Humans already use most of the land on the planet. In many places in the world the competition is between the land-poor and the land-rich. This is a political problem which needs to be solved without further trashing the natural environment. Some systems are more equitable than others and, as discussed in other articles in this volume, the Anglo-Celtic system used in most English speaking countries is worse than most. We humans have to share the land we already have more equally with each-other. If we insist on growing our population then the competition for land will be increasingly severe. We have already taken enough from other creatures and need to give some (a lot) back. Land for wildlife is not a luxury. The perception that it doesn't 'do' anything needs scientific countering with a thermodynamic explanation. That explanation is that Life is the only force that can reorder spent energy.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created but is never lost. However the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is transformed by use and that you can never make it how it was before. (You can't have your cake and eat it.) Industrial society provides a good example in biological energy (food) with the idea that a machine can make a sausage out of a pig, but it cannot make a pig out of a sausage. Once you have turned the pig into sausage for human consumption the energy in the sausage will never be pig again. It will be human waste. The passage of the cake or the pig into something less coherent is part of the usual flow of chemical and physical reactions in a process known as ‘entropy increase’ or a tendency to ‘disperse’.
Otherwise the planet and the atmosphere would be completely filled with sludge and debris. This is the way that ecology and the life-cycles that make up an eco-system are able to temporarily make order from disorder. Industrial manufacturing can grossly restructure dead things, but life is the only process that is able to do this efficiently, keep the process going, and reproduce itself.
Of course if you feed a pig a pork sausage, some of that sausage will become pig again. Most people would see, however, that converting a pig into a sausage through an energy intensive industrial process and then feeding the sausage back to a pig so that the sausage contributed to a miniscule portion of pig-flesh is a pretty inefficient way to make pigs. Nonetheless pork sausages and many other processed foods do find their way back to pigs' troughs. This is quite illustrative of the circular and needlessly wasteful (and cruel) cycles that occur in consumer-industrial societies.
Modern human societies are in fact quite different from those of pre-fossil-fuel human societies and those of other animals.
We modern humans no longer just produce animal waste that is 'biodegradable' in a normal ecological cycle. Through extractive technologies we have artificially extended our bodies and amplified our activities, so that we consume quite enormous quantities of material and energy. In the process of digging up the materials and burning the energy to make things with, we also clear almost every other living thing in our paths. The waste carbon, nitrogen, phosphates, sulphur and other products which our artificial system puts out largely overwhelm the services of the remaining (shrinking) natural eco-systems. Yet the natural eco-systems are the ONLY agents capable of saving us from being buried, suffocated and burned by the physical and chemical interactions of our industrial-society waste.
That is how the second law of thermodynamics can be used to explain why it is vital to allocate increasing space to natural processes. Returning land to wild grass and forests and giving animals their freedom to live naturally is the most positive thing that we humans can do about the accelerating rate of planetary entropy that consumer society multiplied by huge human populations is causing. Entropy comes in the form of increasingly unpredictable climate and in broken, dead and dying eco-systems. [...]”
 Geoff Underwood (who chaired the Victorian Planning System Committee 2011) was the Secretary of APop, (the Australian Population Institute) from 2000 to at least 2015. This was an organisation with the sole aim of vastly increasing Australia’s population, and almost entirely officiated by property developers who had the money and clout to aggressively promote this. Ordinary Australians had no ability to combat this organised input to policy and media. APop has largely been replaced by the Property Council of Australia, of which several government departments are members, and which, in 2009, announced to its members via a Powerpoint display that its number one aim was “More political influence.” It seems to have achieved this.
 See Anne Paton, of Victorian Building Action Group (VBAG) on the long history of bad building and its costs: https://youtu.be/zsyyVILjGpE. Also see Nerrida Pohl on cladding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFVNL8rV_ZQ .
“Since July 2002 there have been 54 separate reviews of the building industry, including by the Victorian Ombudsman and the State Auditor-General, all pointing to serious shortcomings and all calling for reform.” Clare Kermond, “When your dream becomes a nightmare,” The Age, August 16, 2015.
Waleed Aly ("A Rhetorical State of Emergency," Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2019,) has dressed up banality as insight and has been very long-winded about it. His focus is climate change and he laments the fact that we have so "engineered a lack of [political] consensus" that Australia is never likely to successfully address it.
But there is a sense that Waleed believes his unique understanding sets him apart from the problems he describes ... I would like to help him find his feet of clay.
That we worry about climate change is because of the harm it is doing and will do to the natural environment; Waleed's focus, therefore, ought to be environmental decline from any cause, and not just climate change.
The two key drivers of environmental decline are the growth in human population and ever rising levels of consumption. Remarkably, the two key components of Australia's particular economic model are: more people -- population growth via high immigration -- consuming more and more ... forever.
If Australia wishes to address environmental decline -- as Waleed believes we ought -- we must address our levels of consumption and the growth in our population. The latter will require a substantial reduction in immigration -- the principal driver of our population growth.
There is a popular consensus for this measure. What stands in the way? Well, among other things, pundits like Waleed and his occasional employer, the ABC, who refuse to go anywhere near the immigration issue.
For all his posturing and puffing over our dysfunctional politics, Waleed is part of the problem he describes.
Melbourne lacks open green spaces. Unfinancial golf-courses should be returned to nature, to provide scarce habitat to our native animals and contact with nature for humans. These golf-courses often got by on the pretext that they would preserve open land, as a trade-off for more development. Melbourne is not just overdeveloped, it is overpopulated. Furthermore, our building industry is so incompetent that all its activities should be halted. Below you can read the nonsense being proposed by your government, as an excuse to give more land and free kicks to developers. It's a criminal economy that takes nature and destroys it just for more dollars for Australia's rich and greedy class. Submissions opened on 2 September 2019. Submissions can be made until 5.00pm on 30 September 2019. See example of a submission from Sheila Newman here: "Save 110 golf-courses for birds, not high-rises - Sociologist".
Golf is one of Australia’s most popular organised
recreational activities. The sport is experiencing big changes in demand.
Overall, traditional golf club membership is in decline and clubs are facing
changing leisure patterns and increasing operating costs. Some golf clubs have
been forced to merge or close. This trend has drawn developer interest in golf
Recognising that golf course land, especially within
Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary may be considered for rezoning, the Victorian
Government seeks to ensure new proposals for redevelopment are assessed
according to consistent criteria outlined in a planning decision-making
The Advisory Committee was appointed in August 2019 to
review and provide the Minister for Planning advice on draft Planning
Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment and advise on proposals for
redevelopment of golf course land within the Urban Growth Boundary of
The work and scope of the Advisory Committee is guided by
its Terms of Reference, which you can find in the Document Library on the
right-hand side of this page.
The Advisory Committee process will occur in two parts:
The Advisory Committee is currently in Part 1 of the process
and submissions on the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment
are open. You can find more information about the Advisory Committee process
below, including how to make a submission.
The Advisory Committee is comprised of the following Members:
Learn more about the members by reading their biographies.
The draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment (August 2019) prepared by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) can
be viewed here:
You are invited to make a submission to the Advisory Committee on the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment. Submissions may address any matter relevant to the draft Planning Guidelines, including whether the draft Guidelines are supported or objected to or any recommended changes.
Submissions are invited over a 20 business day period.
Submissions opened on 2 September 2019. Submissions can be made until 5.00pm on 30 September 2019 using the form below.
Please contact Planning Panels Victoria on 8392 5120 if you would like to make a hard-copy submission or have issues with this form.
A public briefing will be held at 10.00am on Thursday 12 September 2019 at Planning Panels Victoria, located on the Ground Floor (just past the security desk) at 1 Spring Street, Melbourne in Hearing Room 1.
The purpose of the briefing will be for DELWP to present an overview of the background and work done on the planning for Golf Strategy and the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment.
At the close of exhibition, the Advisory Committee will consider the submissions received and may conduct workshops or forums with submitters to explore issues or other matters. Any workshops or forums held will be public and could be with all or groups of submitters.
If workshops or forums are held these will be informal and will likely take place in the week beginning the 21 October 2019.
The Advisory Committee will advise if any workshops or forums are held and the dates and locations of these, shortly after the close of exhibition.
The Advisory Committee is required to submit its report to the Minister for Planning as soon as practicable but no later than 40 business days from the collection of submissions or 20 business days from the completion of workshop or forums.
Please note that your submission will be treated in accordance with the Privacy Collection Statement (which can be accessed through Document Library) which will include placing your submission on this website, providing it to other parties (the Proponent (if applicable), each relevant council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) and displaying it in the workshops or forums. Submissions may also be provided to other submitters upon request. You should not include any other personal information in the body of your submission, such as addresses, email and phone details, unless that information can be made publicly available. You can request access to your personal information held by the Department by contacting the Freedom of Information Unit on (03) 9637 8186 or [email protected]
Lord Mayor Clover Moore has nothing to congratulate herself on with regard to homelessness in Sydney. The City of Sydney’s most recent street count has revealed that homelessness has risen and crisis shelters are at capacity. Although the City has been collecting levies from developers to create affordable housing since 2004, it has only created 835 new affordable housing dwellings in that time. Whilst the *official* number of homeless in Sydney reached 592 in August 2019 (with so many more couch-surfing and living on credit), Australia has continued to import approximately one million immigrants every two years, pushing up the price of housing and causing pressure on Sydney's very scarce land, to the extent that NSW State Premier, Gladys Berejiklian asked the Federal Government to halve the immigration numbers - to no avail. Lendlease private developments is forcing new suburbs into koala territory despite years of organised protests from nearby residents. It is clear that property development is disorganising human communities, extinguishing wildlife, and over-riding every democratic measure in our society. It is ironic that the City of Sydney, in a country run by property developers for their own enrichment through population growth, should give the biggest private landowner in Australia (the Catholic Church) $100,000 to pay various humble workers to telephone between services looking for empty beds each night for the homeless. The same Catholic Church is a notable property developer, owner of the oldest bank in the world, and a chronic promoter of mass immigration.
According to a press release from the City of Sydney, while the number of those sleeping rough fell by 24 people compared to the count in August last year, occupation of temporary or crisis accommodation rose by 16.8 per cent to 592 people – 94 per cent of available bed capacity.
People Sleeping Rough: 254
Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds: 592
People Sleeping Rough: 278
Occupied Crisis and Temporary Accommodation Beds: 495
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the high level of temporary bed occupancy showed outreach services run by the NSW Government, City of Sydney and non-government organisations were working, but that those numbers would remain high without the provision of more stable, long-term affordable and social housing. In 2017 she had blamed the State Government for not providing enough accommodation, and had refused to move people out of Sydney's "tent city".
In NSW State Premier, Gladys Berejiklian's defense, Ms Berejiklian had, in 2018, asked the Federal Goverment to reduce immigration to NSW by half, with no success.
Sydney's Mayor has a complete disconnect about the problem of massive immigration numbers driving up demand for housing and personally welcomes 1000 international students each year, observing that there are now more than 35,000 studying in the City's local area. Whilst homelessness is increasing, she actually describes student immigration as 'increasing Sydney's livability'.
"International students enhance Sydney's vibrancy and liveability through contributing to our city's cultural diversity. The international student community also plays an important role to grow and strengthen Sydney's global connections – today and in the future." 
According to Australia's 2016 census, the number of homeless people in Australia jumped by more than 15,000 — or 14 per cent — in the five years to 2016. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said 116,000 people were homeless on census night in 2016, representing 50 homeless people per 10,000.
Let them eat cake, eh, Clover?
“These figures tell us that people experiencing homelessness are seeking help, and know where to find the services that can offer them a bed or a free meal for the night, but these are temporary solutions to a systemic crisis,” the Lord Mayor said.
“254 people sleeping on our streets is 254 too many. In a prosperous city like Sydney, this is an unacceptable situation demanding decisive and compassionate action. To break the cycle of homelessness we need the NSW and Federal governments to fund provide more social and affordable housing in the inner city. We cannot allow Sydney to become an enclave for the rich. We need a diverse range of housing to accommodate our diverse community.”
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, participated in the count and said the figures showed the NSW Government’s assertive outreach programs are making a real impact.
“Since 2017, our assertive outreach teams have helped house more than 450 people previously sleeping rough on inner city streets,” Mr Ward said. “Our staff are compassionate, skilled professionals and to see a drop in the number of people sleeping rough compared to last year is encouraging, but of course there is still more work to be done. The reality is that across the state, homelessness is an issue. That’s why we recently announced the expansion of assertive outreach to Tweed Heads and Newcastle and the extension of the street count to regional areas. We’re delighted to partner with the City of Sydney in tackling this issue and we will continue to work with other local councils and non-government organisations to build on the strong foundations we have set.”
Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich welcomed the joint action between local and state government on homelessness.
“Sadly, it is no secret that homelessness has reached a crisis point in NSW,” the Member for Sydney said. “The latest street count results prove once again that people are seeking help, but that the system is at capacity – we need to provide safe and affordable homes in order to truly stop the cycle of homelessness in our state.”
The homeless in Sydney count was conducted in the early hours of Tuesday, 6 August. A total of 195 volunteers made up of residents, sector workers, students, local businesses 15 advisers who have lived experience of homelessness and 30 City staff members took part in the count from 1am to 3am.
In February, the City signed an agreement with the NSW Government, the Institute of Global Homelessness, St Vincent de Paul, St Vincent’s Health, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Neami National and Yfoundations to:
- reduce rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area by 25 per cent by 2020
- reduce rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area and NSW by 50 per cent by 2025
- work towards zero rough sleeping in the City of Sydney area and NSW
These goals are totally inadequate given the number of new migrants coming into Sydney every day plus all the overseas immigrants and the likely total by 2025.
The City has contributed $100,000 to the St Vincent de Paul Society to establish a Sydney office to coordinate the project. It says that the local, *independent* organisation is bringing together organisations and services working to reduce homelessness. The city believes that this will allow for greater information sharing and enable a more coordinated response to reduce the number of people sleeping rough and to prevent people entering in to homelessness.
It is ironic that a City in a country run by property developers for their own enrichment through population growth should give an organisation affiliated with the biggest private landowner in Australia (the Catholic Church) $100,000 to pay various humble workers to telephone between services looking for empty beds each night for the homeless.
The City has also invested $6.6 million over three years to help reduce homelessness in the city. This includes a $3.5 million contribution to the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services over three years to fund specialist homelessness services.
The City of Sydney says that it has helped build 835 new affordable housing dwellings since 2004, by collecting levies from developers and selling *our* land to affordable housing providers at discount rates.
Meanwhile, between 2014 and 2017 'Cloud Arch', a single ribbon of steel shaped sculpture intended to be installed over George Street in Sydney, had its budget rise from A$3.5 million to 11.3 million dollars. It has been criticised on cost and aesthetics, but the mayor has said that it will become a "drawcard for residents, workers, tourists and visitors." She obviously hasn't figured out that Sydney isn't coping with its current population, if she wants to attract even more people.
 "On Wednesday the New South Wales premier, herself the daughter of Armenian immigrants, called for a halving of the state’s migrant intake, citing concerns about population growth in Sydney. But a Guardian analysis of immigration data shows any reduction in migration in Australia would involve hard and potentially costly choices for the state’s economy. While permanent arrivals in Australia are at the same level as they were under the Howard government, the increase in net overseas migrants has been driven by the lucrative international student market, tourists and skilled workers." source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/10/gladys-berejikilian-calls-for-immigration-cut-but-it-could-cost-nsw.
 "The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation and does not receive any direct funding from the Catholic Church. The Society enjoys a close relationship with the Catholic Church and is assisted through parishes and schools." (Source: https://www.vinnies.org.au/page/About/FAQs/Is_the_St_Vincent_de_Paul_Society_a_part_of_the_Catholic_Church/)
The Vatican, on the other hand, manages $64 billion of assets on behalf of its 17,400 customers, according to a Dec. 5, 2014, article in International Business Times .
The Vatican bank owns $764 million in equity. The bank keeps gold reserves worth over $20 million with the U.S. Federal Reserve. (Source: https://www.nasdaq.com/article/how-much-money-does-the-vatican-have-cm500605.
"Your program and so many on the ABC ignore the real prospect of widespread social, economic and environmental breakdown consequent on a human population having exceeded the long term carrying capacity of Nature. The ABC in its general coverage assumes a continuation of Business as Usual. Climate change, if present trends continue leads to a world 3 – 4 degrees warmer at century’s end. (David Attenborough in his recent TV program on climate change used the figures 3 - 6 degrees.) Together with declines in soil quality, water availability, food shortages and massive biodiversity loss these things have many scientists foreshadowing an imminent reduction in the global human population and a world in chaos."
Your program re infrastructure on [16 August 2019] yesterday's 'Breakfast' program did a great disservice to your audience. It perpetuated myths not supported by facts and failed to mention the real alternative context in which matters like this must be considered.
As a former medical epidemiologist I am very familiar with statistical analysis. Among OECD industrialised countries there is no statistically significant correlation between rates of population growth and per capita growth of GDP. Among poor countries there is a significant and strong negative correlation between population growth and growth of per capita GDP. It is therefore misleading to claim that population growth is causing increases in per capita GDP, i.e. making the average Australian materially better off. This myth serves the interests of those who do benefit from population growth.
GDP and per capita GDP are themselves misleading indicators of real benefit. The costs, yes costs, borne by people as a consequence of growth of population and expenditure on infrastructure are added to GDP. Travel times are reported to have increased by 23% with increases in fuel costs, car maintenance, insurance etc. These are real costs but are added to GDP. The costs of a growing economy have exceeded the benefits for many years for ordinary people explaining why it is that so many feel worse off even while governments and programs like yours keep telling people they have never had it so good.
Your program and so many on the ABC ignore the real prospect of widespread social, economic and environmental breakdown consequent on a human population having exceeded the long term carrying capacity of Nature. The ABC in its general coverage assumes a continuation of Business as Usual. Climate change, if present trends continue leads to a world 3 – 4 degrees warmer at century’s end. (David Attenborough in his recent TV program on climate change used the figures 3 - 6 degrees.) Together with declines in soil quality, water availability, food shortages and massive biodiversity loss these things have many scientists foreshadowing an imminent reduction in the global human population and a world in chaos. Despite this evident danger every government in Australia and most around the world continue to make decisions based on an assumption of business as usual, that they can go on driving both population and economic growth, the two primary causes of our worsening situation. How do you reconcile that prospect with a continuation of unquestioned population growth in Australia. Climate change is likely to impact Australia's ability to grow food quite severely. We may have difficulty even feeding the present population let alone a much larger one before century's end.
Australia's ecological footprint has varied between 4 and 5.6 Earths over the last decade. Do you really think it morally right for us to go on increasing the total size of our demand on Nature by seeking both to increase our population and our per capita demand (growing GDP as our main goal)? I invite you to do the sums which show that we could achieve more human welfare by massively increasing our foreign aid and addressing that aid primarily toward education for girls, family planning and contraception than spend that some money on more infrastructure in Australia for the purpose of accommodating a much larger population.
Here is a much saner voice on the issue of infrastructure from a fellow journalist, Crispin Hull.
Tomorrow it will be exactly 10 years since Kelvin Thomson spoke to the Parliament describing increasing population as the underlying cause of the world’s problems. He listed each of them - global warming, food crisis, water shortages, housing affordability, overcrowded cities, traffic congestion, species extinctions, fisheries collapse, increasing prices, waste, terrorism and war - and described the role that population growth was playing in fuelling them.
Sadly in the ten years since he gave that speech population growth has continued unabated, and Kelvin says he can’t claim that the speech has had any effect on it.
But the speech has certainly stood the test of time. Every thing he pointed out ten years ago remains valid and has been vindicated by the growing problems and turmoil that we see around us.
Kelvin Thomson gives the example of water shortages, which are now even more acute than they were in 2009. He cites a New York Times report which appeared 10 days ago (“A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises”) which said that World Resources Institute researchers had found that among cities with more than 3 million people, 33 of them, with a combined population of over 255 million, face extremely high water stress, with repercussions for both public health and social unrest.
Even worse, by 2030 the number of those cities in the extremely high stress category is expected to rise to 45 and include nearly 470 million people. Clearly the World Resources Institute doesn’t believe either the engineering solutions of the technological optimists, or the consume less/waste less exhortations of the social justice warriors, are going to actually prevent this debacle.
He was only wrong about one thing, he says:
"The one area where Australia has taken a different path from the one I predicted has been the question of price rises. Prices have risen less than I expected, largely because our mass migration program has put downward pressure on wages and caused them to be stagnant. Of course the effect on living standards, which was my concern, has been the same. As the ABC economics writer Carrington Clarke observed in 2017, the reason Australians have been concerned that their living standards haven’t been rising is because they haven’t, while migration has enabled Governments to pretend we have been recession free and that the economy is improving."
"We continue to go down a totally unsustainable path and ordinary people have less control over their lives than ever before. It’s time we started to take it back," he concludes.
Mr KELVIN THOMSON (8:40 PM) —We all know that the world has plenty of problems. Let me run out some that come to mind without much effort: global warming, the food crisis, water shortages, housing affordability, overcrowded cities, transport congestion, the fisheries collapse, species extinctions, increasing prices, waste and terrorism. We scratch our heads and try to come up with solutions. It staggers me that so often we ignore the elephant in the room: increasing population. Each of these problems is either caused by or exacerbated by the global population explosion. In the first two million years of human existence, the global human population was only a few million. Up to 1950, it had managed to climb to two billion. In the 50-odd years since, it has trebled to six billion people. And the population is projected to double again.
The consequences of the present population pressure are dramatic. In my belief, it is not plausible that the world’s population could double without the consequences becoming catastrophic. Yet, when it is suggested that the world’s population is a problem, there is zero interest from policy makers. In my view, it is not so much a problem as the problem. Let me return to that list of problems and describe the impact of population on them.
One: global warming. Population plays a critical role in global warming. We have one earth and one atmosphere, and every carbon dioxide molecule we release into it contributes to global warming. The more of us there are, the more carbon dioxide is released—simple and undeniable. Al Gore identifies population growth as one of the big three drivers of the rapid spurt of greenhouse gasses during the past 50 years. People who believe that we can meet serious carbon targets without curbing population growth are kidding themselves; they are delusional. There is no reasonable prospect that Australia will reduce its total level of greenhouse emissions while our population grows by one million every four years as is presently the case. Population stabilisation must be part of the plan to contain greenhouse emissions not merely for Australia but for the rest of the world as well.
Two: the food crisis. The combination of declining arable land and continued population growth has caused the world’s per capita food production to go into decline. We are now in a situation where there is a global shortage of food which is set to get worse. In future, more people will starve—not fewer. Figures released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation show that the number of people suffering from chronic hunger is rising, not falling. In June last year, the Australian government’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation said that world agriculture is experiencing a growing crisis, and its first named demand-side factor was increasing global population.
Three: water shortages. As with agricultural decline, population growth is fuelling water shortages both indirectly through climate change and directly through extraction and pollution. Around the world, one in three people is suffering from water shortage. Assuming modest rates of population growth, we will use 70 per cent of the world’s accessible fresh water by 2025. Already, 400 million children worldwide are drinking dangerously unclean water, and one child dies from a waterborne disease every 15 seconds. According to Melbourne Water, water scarcity in and around Melbourne is being driven by both climate change and population growth.
Four: housing affordability. Housing affordability in Australia has undergone a period of dramatic decline. John Edwards, an economist with HSBC, has noted that Australia’s high level of migration, the highest level in our history, is going to keep upward pressure on house prices. The same goes for rent. The General Manager of Australian Property Monitors, Michael McNamara, has said the shortage of rental properties will continue to worsen because of rising migration.
Five: overcrowded cities. Our cities are too large. They dwarf people. The sheer scale of them is overwhelming for some, who lose the plot and fall victim to mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse. For the rest of us, the madding crowd swells every year, giving us that little bit less room. Every square metre of space is fought over. In Africa and Asia the accumulated urban growth during the whole span of history is in the process of being doubled between the years 2000 and 2030. A United Nations Population Fund report released in June 2007 says that, as a result, a billion people—one-sixth of the world’s population—live in slums. The overcrowding of cities is not merely a Third World phenomenon either. In my home city of Melbourne, a lot of people of goodwill have supported high rise as preferable to urban sprawl. What they do not realise is that it is not halting any urban sprawl at all. Suburbs continue to continue to march out onto the horizon. Property developers are having their cake and eating it too. We are growing upwards and outwards. Melbourne is becoming an obese hardened-artery parody of its former self. There is something intangible but important about the personal space of a backyard. I believe the children who grow up in concrete jungle suburbs are subject to more bullying and harassment and are more vulnerable to traps such as crime and drugs.
Six: traffic congestion. More people equals more cars, and the more cars there are out on the roads the longer it takes us to get anywhere. The time that motorists spend on the roads in and out of Brisbane, for example—to the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast or Ipswich—is truly appalling. Each suburb we build out of the city fringes means more traffic coming through the inner suburbs, more congestion, more pollution and more noise. It does nothing for our calm, our quality of life or our sanity. We think we have no choice but to grin and bear it. It is not true.
Seven: species extinctions. The USA based National Academy of Sciences has reported that human activities are leading to a wave of extinctions over 100 times greater than natural rates. Over 12,000 varieties of animal, plant and water life are critically endangered. Thirty per cent of Australia’s 760 bird species are under threat. The world has entered the 21st century with little more than 10 per cent of its original forest cover intact. According to anthropologists Richard Leakey and Roger Lewis, all the forest cover will be largely gone by 2050. Sometimes I think we have declared war on everything else. The more there are of us the less there is of everything else. I consider it a grotesque piece of arrogance on our part as a species that we think that we have a right to destroy everything else on our way to affluence.
Eight: fisheries collapse. One of our favourite old sayings was, ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea.’ Not anymore: 90 per cent of the large fish in the ocean are gone. Australia is in the same boat as everyone else. Our annual catch has steadily gone down, and a Bureau of Rural Sciences fisheries status report says that two-thirds of Australia’s fisheries are either overfished or uncertain.
Nine: increasing prices. Increasing population consumes resources and makes them scarcer, leading to price rises. The rising price of petrol is a clear function of scarcity fuelled by population growth, and the increased cost of basic resources such as water and petrol feeds into everything they contribute to—food costs, transport costs, insurance, housing et cetera. Some economists argue that increasing population will create economies of scale and put downward pressure on prices. In reality, this downward pressure on prices is sighted less frequently than Elvis Presley.
Ten: waste. A vast area of the central Pacific Ocean has become smothered in plastic. It is referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The area affected is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and to a depth of at least 30 metres. What a disgrace!
Eleven: terrorism and war. Analysts spend a great deal of time assessing the political and religious factors leading to the scourge of terrorism and war in the modern world. They spend less time noting the underlying cause: conflict over scarce resources—scarce land, scarce water and scarce oil—brought about by increasing population. A Pentagon report in 2007 detailed a range of scenarios in which population displacement caused by global warming and triggered by extreme weather events would lead to border tensions and armed conflict. An Oxford University study has estimated that 26 million Bangladeshis, 73 million Chinese and 20 million Indians are at risk of displacement from rising sea levels.
In short, it is time for governments and policy makers around the world to come to their senses and take steps to stabilise the world’s population. It needs to happen in every country, including here in Australia—especially here in dry, arid Australia. And it is time people and communities stood up and demanded better of their policy makers than the ‘she’ll be right’ growth fetish which is making an utter mockery of our obligation to give to our children a world in as good a condition as the one our parents gave to us.
Script by Mark Allen of Population, Permaculture and Planning and Michael Bayliss of Sustainable Population Australia.
It has been great to re-live the Apollo 11 Moon Landing’s 50 th Anniversary. What a monumental achievement and tribute to human intellectual candlepower, endeavour and above all courage. I was a Year 9 student at the time; like other classes we downed tools to watch it unfold. Our teachers were just as astonished by the audacity and precision of the Landing as we were. I – and I think most of the people who I talked with or heard from at that time – had a very rosy view of the future. Yes we were involved in a stupid war in Vietnam, but I thought the Second World War and the Holocaust were so wicked and so evil that we’d learned from that, and that there was a very strong worldwide appetite for peace. I thought that war and conflict would become a thing of the past.
I also thought that we were learning from our environmental mistakes, and that the public interest and community action groups springing up to oppose air pollution, water pollution, toxic pesticides and habitat destruction would see us lift our environmental game. In short, I thought everything would improve.
But to reflect on the Apollo 11 Moon Landing raises the question for me – what has actually happened to the world in the last 50 years?
The most striking global phenomenon of the past 50 years has been population growth. It took us the whole of human history to get to the 3.6 billion people we were in 1969. It has taken just 50 years to more than double that, to 7.7 billion now. Australia is no exception – back in 1969 we were 12 million; now we are 25 million.
The impact of this growth on wildlife and the environment has been catastrophic. The latest World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report says that since 1970, 60% of the population of all mammals, birds, reptiles and fish has been lost.
60% in 50 years. It is a disgrace. It makes an absolute nonsense of the idea that we’re decoupling growth from environmental damage; that we can continue to grow, and our wildlife won’t disappear. Let me repeat – in the last years our numbers went up by over 50%, and the world’s wildlife went down by 60%.
Co-incidence? Hardly. As has been noted by The Overpopulation Report, the total weight of vertebrate land animals 10,000 years ago was – Humans 1%, Wild Animals 99%. Today it is Wild Animals 1%, Humans 32%, Livestock 67%.
And the population doubling in 50 years has not just been catastrophic for our wildlife and environment; there have been many other consequences too. Back then Australia had negligible unemployment. Now we’ve got unemployment, we’ve got underemployment, we’ve got job insecurity, we’ve got no wage growth.
Back then we had virtually no homelessness and much lower levels of mental health problems and drug addiction. Now we have homelessness and beggars in the streets, our young people have mental health problems. Ice used to be something you needed to keep the beer cold. Not any more. We have housing unaffordability. In 1969 Australians not only owned their own homes, many Australians had a holiday home down by the beach as well. Not any more. In 1969 there was no such thing as traffic congestion. Now the traffic congestion is terrible. We have road rage (unheard of in
1969) and Melbourne is on track to add over one million extra cars in the next 20 years. How will we go with another million cars?
In 1969 we did indeed take a giant leap forward. But it’s the increasing size of the foot, and our footprint on the earth, that the past 50 years will be most remembered for in time to come. The next giant leap for mankind will be the one that moves us from using “growth” as our measuring stick, to using “wellbeing”, and which enables us to put into effect the lesson of those beautiful photos of the earth taken by the astronauts – that we’re all in this together.
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
22 July 2019