There is exciting news from Frankston. On Wednesday Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny announced an Interim Design and Development Overlay which included mandatory height limits of 3 storeys on the section of land between Kananook Creek Boulevard and Nepean Highway.
Melbourne planning and environment
Question on notice and response: posed by Clifford Hayes (Sustainable Australia Party) to Richard Wynn, Minister for Planning, about proposed Connex Capital high-rise towers above the train lines between Flinders Street Station and Richmond Station:
Questions on Notice No 4760
We, the residents of Melbourne demand that the
Government stop its plan to damage St Kilda Road and that
they make alternative plans such as an alternative route via
Kings Way and linking it into South Yarra Station, or deep
tunnelling the entire length or stop work , re-focus and re-
plan, in meaningful consultation with the people of
Voted on and approved unanimously by the attendees at the
Public Protest at The Domain Interchange on the 21 st
Yesterday between 1 and 1.30pm a rally was held to save the trees in St. Kilda Road destined for removal to make way for the new underground metro. It was organised by the combined forces of Planning Backlash, Protectors of Public Lands and Walk in St. Kilda Road and environs Approximately 80 people attended including the 9 speakers listed below. The M.C of the event was Mary Drost , Convenor of Planning backlash.Prof. Michael Buxton was unable to attend and Dr. Ernest Healy , Vice President of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria deputised by reading Prof. Buxton's speech. Feelings for the impending loss of ancient trees and for those already lost ran high. The general consensus from the speakers was that the damage envisaged for avenue of trees in Melbourne's beautiful boulevard, St. Kilda Road was not necessary to accommodate the project and that a better way must be found. A statement to this effect will be sent to Shadow Minister for Planning, to be read out in both houses of Parliament.
Rally for St. Kilda Road trees February 21st 2018
Speakers at the event
1. Kristin Stegley OAM, Chairman, National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
2. Michael Buxton, Professor of Environment and Planning, RMIT University (in Prof. Buxton's absence speech read by Dr. Ernest Healy)
3. The Hon. Barry Jones: a statement by himself and Tom Harley, nominators of St Kilda Road and Environs for emergency National Heritage listing
4. Dr Greg Moore, OAM, president of the International Society of Arboriculture, Australian Chapter; member of the National Trust’s Register of Significant Trees from1988, Chair since 1996
5. Bea McNicholas, Director, Walk in St Kilda Road and Environs, Planet Ark National Tree Day
6. Senator Derryn Hinch
7. Dr Judith Buckrich, historian; author of “Melbourne’s Grand Boulevard: The Story of St Kilda Road”, 1996.
8. Jill Quirk, Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria
9. David Davis, MP, Shadow Planning Minister
The following speech was made by Hon. David Davis, Shadow Minister for Planning in the Victorian Parliament yesterday afternoon.
"Today I was pleased to join a very large crowd, a significant gathering, on the corner of Albert Road and St Kilda Road. Many people there were very concerned about the state government's approach to the construction of the Metro Tunnel. This is an important project, a project that is needed to deliver the additional capacity, but it should not be beyond the wit of government and community in Victoria to deliver projects without trashing our heritage. We see that large European cities are able to deliver major projects without the loss of their important heritage, and in this case the state government has, in my view, adopted an appalling process of trying to crunch through the legitimate concerns of local community and not listen at all.
The attendance there was significant and included not just myself but my colleagues Ms Fitzherbert and Ms Crozier. Also Barry Jones was there speaking as a former state MP and former federal Labor MP. He was highly critical of Jacinta Allan and her approach to a number of these major projects, particularly the tunnel. Barry Jones made some very clear points. A former Governor, Alex Chernov, was there as well, and he joined the group who were prepared to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough. This should've been constructed in a different way, a way that did not destroy the very important avenue of trees that is part of St Kilda Road'. Derryn Hinch was there as well, so we actually had a federal MP attend to make some very clear points about his disgust and concern as he sees trees being torn down in a way that is not necessary.
When I addressed the group I made the point very clearly that in fact there were alternate locations and alternate ways of doing the construction. I am aware of at least two worked-up alternatives, including one which the previous government looked at, which was further to the west. A group of local and experienced engineers also put together a proposal which would have seen a different alignment and different approach to the loss of trees. This proposal was a very thoughtful one, but instead of independently assessing it I was concerned that Jacinta Allan immediately gave this proposal to the Metro Tunnel authority, effectively asking it to check its own homework.
It is hardly surprising that the authority said, 'Oh, no. We're doing it the right way'. Unfortunately the state government would not, in an independent way, consider alternative approaches that could have delivered less destruction, less loss of trees and a more mature approach to this sort of construction.
I was proud to join that group today. I pay tribute to all the activists who are determined to protect our important heritage along that corridor. St Kilda Road has recently, as we know, been permanently listed, along with the Domain and Government House — that whole precinct through there — on the National Heritage List. This is an important step that I congratulate Josh Frydenberg for taking.
But you have to ask real questions about what was going on with Heritage Victoria. On the Monday, when the national heritage listing was gazetted formally, it became clear that in fact late on the Friday night the head of Heritage Victoria, Steven Avery, who has popped up from somewhere — I do not quite know where he has come from, but he is a recent appointment to the position — made the decision, seemingly in the knowledge that on the Monday there would be a national heritage listing. He gave the go-ahead. He said, 'Start your engines. Start your chainsaws. Start your crushers. Away you go and you try and beat the national heritage listing'. What a shameful and disgraceful approach. Daniel Andrews is a bully. He is bullying communities, and he is leaving a legacy that is not what Victorians expect."
The loss of the trees in st. Kilda Road causes deep distress to many people. I spoke to one local resident who was suffering very visibly from dust irritation form the earthworks in progress. She also reported to me that since work has started and trees have been removed, mice have entered her house and the sound of distressed displaced birds was deafening.
St Kilda Road, Melbourne's Champs Elysees, is being vandalised for population growth that we don't need, but big business is imposing. Join a public protest Wednesday 21 Feb 2018, 1pm-1.30pm. The meeting is now in the reserve which is outside 1 Albert Road. It’s a triangle of land in the fork of Albert Road. Some more details and yellow arrow on map inside.
Come and see for yourself the disaster of our beautiful boulevard.
1 Albert Road, in front of ‘the Domain’ building
(in St Kilda Rd, opposite Melbourne Grammar, next to Albert Reserve.)
Tram: Get off at Domain Interchange.
Bring posters, write slogans
Photo and media opportunity
A shameful destruction
It is hard to believe our state government is allowing the world's most beautiful boulevard to be destroyed. (The Age 15/2). How dare it destroy St. Kilda Road in this shameful way? Why can't it learn from London, which is 'deep tunnelling' for 42 kilometres for the new line, Crossrail. This work is being done without damagin anything on top. In contrat, we vandals are bulding the relatively small Metro Tunnel and wrecking this wonderful area by cutting and filling (because it is cheaper than deep tunnelling) and bulldozing those beautiful trees. People will have to cope with years of a mess-up city. Vote out the government.
Mary Drost, letter published in The Age, Feb 16, 2018.
The Victorian Liberals have been running public population forums for their "Victorian Population Policy Taskforce." Please read on to get an idea of what is involved and how you might use these forums for good, despite their cynical nature. The article includes a list of the forums still to be held at time of writing this article. As you would expect, the people comprising the Taskforce include some heavy hitters from the extreme growth lobby and, really only one person who has questioned population growth policy - Dr Bob Birrell. We can be sure that the Liberal politicians and other growth lobby activists behind the forums are pushing for extreme population growth to continue despite its awful consequences, just as the Victorian Labor Government is. The purpose of the forums is to manufacture consent by pretending that current immigration numbers cannot be stopped or reduced, however bleak their impact. The message is put in pseudo solidarity as, "Yes, we feel your pain, we wish we could do something, but we cannot." This throws the audiences into a state of helplessness. However, the forums do present the possibility of people who actually know the facts and are concerned about citizens, residents' rights and wildlife needs, to reach the wide spectrum of people who come to the forums and point to the way out of the false dilemma. Those audiences are dying to hear that the political parties (in and out of government) have the capacity to stop the massive population growth and that Australians should and must resist it. Consider taking copies of The Residents' Bill of Rights, which proposes that Australian growth be brought in line with the OECD average. Consider printing out this recent Population Flyer and taking copies. You might also consider taking a copy of recently retired Labor MP Kelvin Thomson's 14 point plan, which is a viable and well-informed plan to stabilise Australia's population. Inside this article there are also recent ABS and OECD graphs and a population doubling time calculator.
Most of the people comprising the "Victorian Population Policy Taskforce" are obviously from the fox side of the henhouse. The only 'community activist' is known for her opposition to speaking out on population growth. Jane Nathan, is the president of The Australian Population Institute (APOP), which was formed solely to promote a big population for Australia. Asher Judah is a Property Council of Victoria executive and a research fellow with the very right-wing Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) with a background that includes the Master Builders Association and the Victorian Farmers Federation. David Matthews is known for his involvement in agribusiness and banking. Jason Potts is a fan of immigration tariffs and an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. Peter Tesdorpf is a former Victorian President of the Planning Institute and is Principal at Peter Tesdorpf and Associates. Joanna Stanley of Brunswick Residents Group has been associated with Planning Backlash and has this description at Linked In "Particularly accomplished in media and stakeholder relations in planning and issues in community." Recently Joanna has been outspoken against any push against population growth that BRAG and Planning Backlash have put up for consideration. The taskforce's advisors also include Bob Birrell, Sociologist and President of The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI), a conservationist and not a fan of big Australia.
The Rosebud Population Taskforce Forum
I went to one of these forums with some curiosity. I've been having nightmares ever since. The gloves are really off in the growth lobby. As an ex-planner said to me, "They're not even trying to hide the fact that they are forcing a huge population on us anymore." The forum was, however, a bit better than I expected, in some ways. One way was that more than half the time was given to responses from the audience, with good access to microphones and little prescriptiveness on what we said. But very few in the audience seemed to have any idea of what was happening. Most looked grim or horrified.
A good thing was that the contribution of immigration was admitted. In fact the rate of Victoria's population growth was described with due horror by 'keynote speaker', the politician, Tim Smith MP for Kew. The effect this would have on the Mornington Peninsular was evoked as likely to be frightening and unpleasant. (See the OECD graph where Australia ranks highest in population growth of all OECD countries.)
State websites solicit for immigrants; it's not just the Federal Government
I spoke of the state government websites inviting immigration and of how this was off-the-scale population engineering by the state. As usual, this statement caused some surprise because of the mantra that the state can do nothing because the Federal Government sets immigration numbers. (As if the states couldn't object, anyhow.) The Liberal Taskforce say they want to promote decentralisation by creating small cities all over the countryside, including the Mornington Peninsula. But Victoria already offers 'Skilled Regional (489) visas', which require the sponsored immigrant and any sponsored dependents to live and work in regional Victoria whilst under this visa, which was, in fact, introduced by Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett in 1998.
Forum treated our massive rates of immigration as if they could not be questioned
A bad thing about this forum was that the huge population growth due to mass immigration was presented as a given, with only 'management' solutions contemplated by the speakers. It was as if Victoria's population growth of 2.1% (actually 2.4% according to latest ABS figures to 2016 - see graphs) was as inexplicable and irresistible as an invisible gas, wafting over our borders, something about which no-one could do anything but submit as it wrecked the landscape, drove up housing prices, and congested the roads, jostling the inhabitants and competing for police attendance and scarce places in their schools and hospitals.
A good thing was that other people and myself were able to criticise this unnecessary acceptance of massive population growth without anyone trying to shut them up.
I also said how people concerned about wildlife could not accept this growth in light of how there was absolutely no serious provision of wildlife corridors and crossings so that, at the moment, it spells huge loss of habitat and cruelty, with animals pushed from their habitats onto roads or shot by hobby farmers, with the uncritical permission of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DWELP.), which is supposed to protect wildlife.
Russell Joseph, Liberal Candidate for Nepean, who introduced the speaker and made some comments himself, responded to my raising the problem of wildlife by saying that Landcare and Port Philip Westernport Catchment Management Authority were attempting to make corridors, 'but that was, of course, a long term project', he added.
But wildlife are in crisis on the Peninsular due to the patchwork of intensifications, roads, and kangaroo fences. It is an emergency, the animals are running out of habitat and the situation is about to get much much worse if population growth continues, let alone accelerates. This is not something that can be solved in some far away time.
Aging population furphy
Jenny Warfe, Secretary of Sustainable Population Victoria and Tasmania (SPAVicTas), reminded keynote speaker Tim Smith that when John Howard presided over 80,000 migrant intake p.a. Australia was pretty prosperous. Under John Howard, net planned economic overseas immigrants went from about 80,000 to more than 250,000 and 300,000 due to changes Howard made. An implication was that Australia's GDP per capita has fallen as our population intake rate has increased.
Responding to some of the usual scaremongering about Australia's aging population, Ms Warfe described the ageing issue as a furphy, explaining that bringing more migrants will not help stem the ageing “time bomb” so often described. She observed that migrants age like the rest of us, so more migration only serves to eventually produce more and more ageing people. She added that stabilising the population would eventually solve the ageing “crisis” as the age bar chart/demographic, currently with the bulge towards the ageing end, would even out. There were some murmurs of agreement in the audience.
Employment and business costs
The problem of high unemployment on the Peninsula was alluded to by the speakers, and I responded by talking about how population growth inflates cost of resources as well as housing and rents. Business not only needs to pay for these itself, but it must also pay wages sufficient for its employees to afford housing, heating, etc. This makes Australian business uncompetitive with most overseas business (including, for comparison, that of continental Europe) due to our very high costs in land, housing, energy etc. See "Land and Rent Costs to Business make Australia uncompetitive".
Calculating Population Doubling Rates
The keynote speaker, Tim Smith,  had declared some pride in the Liberal Party's aiming for a policy to manage population that would take us all the way up to 2050. This led me to ask him if he was aware of the population doubling times of a population with Victoria's rate of 2.1% growth (actually 2.4 according to ABS 2016 figures.  He seemed to struggle with the concept itself and then admitted that he did not know. He asked me to tell him. I thought I detected some shock among the 70 people or so in the audience as well as, possibly, the speaker, when I said that at 2.1% growth Victoria's population would take about 35 yrs (in fact it would take 33.3). I added that population growth is being engineered upwards in most states, by soliciting mass economic immigration, so one had to take into consideration growth rates for the whole country.
I suggested that, rather than be proud that they were looking ahead to 2050, the Libs should be worried at the shortsightedness of their policy; they need to look much further ahead at the doubling rate consequences. They are preparing for a Victoria of 10m in 2050, but it would be 20m in 2080 or even sooner, still growing and much harder to stop.
The response was to ask for my details so they could contact me later. A person among the organisers later told me that 'between you and me' quite a few of the people involved on the task force would be quite pleased to have people attend the forums and talk about how to stop the population growth. It seemed that, for this person, the very idea was novel.
One small-time developer got up and said how none of the farms on the Mornington Peninsula (where the event was being held) made profits, intimating that something should replace them. And that we have to suck up population growth. He added that there was some attempt to make a wildlife crossing over Boneo Road, as if that would somehow compensate for the massive increases in traffic and loss of habitat.
Another man got up and gave examples of several farming operations which made good profits and employed lots of people.
Very few people from the audience spoke to support population growth.
People have been hypnotised into not questioning the whole growth thing. Most of them don't want the growth and only accept a search for management solutions because they think growth is inevitable. Many will be responsive to the concept that it is not.
Many of the people conducting these forums and most people attending these forums are unaware of what is driving population growth. They also have not considered population inertia and doubling rates. Giving them this information can only empower them.
People don't realise that the states dictate to the Feds on numbers. It is hard to know if politicians like Tim Smith are really so in the dark, but some may be. However Tim Smith should now be aware of https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/, (formerly http://liveinvictoria.org.au/) because of what I said at the forum and later forwarded by email. Days later I ran into another Victorian MP associated with the Taskforce forums and when I mentioned that Victoria touts for immigrants and told her how, she shouted at me that I was 'bullshitting' her.
Here are the ones still to come.
Monday 14 August
Frankston Mechanics Hall
1A Plowman Pl, Frankston VIC 3199
Contact: Ms Inga Peulich (03) 9772 1366
Friday 11 August 2017
Convenor: Ms Steph Ryan MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 5762 1600
EASTERN METROPOLITAN – IVANHOE AND ELTHAM
Monday 14 August 2017, 10am – 12pm
Convenor: The Hon. Richard Dalla Riva MLC
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9803 0592
SOUTH EASTERN METROPOLITAN
Monday 14 August 2017, 6pm – 8pm
Convenor: Ms Inga Peulich MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9772 1366
Tuesday 15 August 2017
Convenor: Ms Georgie Crozier MLC
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9555 4101
Wednesday 16 August 2017
Convenor: Mr Brian Paynter MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 5672 4755
 Despite Tim's simple and somewhat naive presentation, his background would suggest more sophistication. Tim Smith's occupation prior to becoming a Member of Parliament for Kew electorate in Victoria, is listed as: Senior Consultant (Office of the Chief Executive Officer), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Consultant (Strategy and Operations) Deloitte. Assistant Adviser to The Hon. Bruce Billson MHR. Assistant Adviser to The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MHR, Leader of the Opposition. Electorate Officer for The Hon. Michael O'Brien MLA, Shadow Minister for Gaming and Consumer Affairs. Researcher for The Rt Hon David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary (UK). He has a BA, MIntPol (Melb)and his other mentioned qualification is "Hansard Research Scholars Program (London School of Economics)." http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/members/details/1743-mr-timothy-smith.
 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2016 at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/3101.0
 How Victoria touts for immigration: The site https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/ (until recently called https://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au) presents videos to attract immigrants to Victoria. It makes no mention of the terrible problems that rapid and voluminous population growth are causing the state and which are the subject of harangs by State Premiers and the opposition (as in the Liberal Population Taskforce). "Some visas require you to have nomination from a state or territory government, or sponsorship from an eligible relative. The Victorian Government offers visa nomination to selected overseas skilled workers and business people with skill-sets and business acumen required in Victoria." These visas are https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/migrate/skilled-migration-visas/skilled-nominated-visa-subclass-190 for 'Skilled nominated visas' [until recently: "Skilled Nominated (190) visa"] and https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/skilled-visas/skilled-regional-visa-subclass-489 (for skilled visas and skilled regional visa subclass 489). [Formerly called: http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/skilled-visas/skilled-regional-visa-subclass-489] The site, https://https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au [formerly https://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au] is a Victorian Government site and carries the Victorian Government logo.
This article is adapted from a talk with power point given to U3A Deepene on March 15th 2017 by past president of VicTas branch of Sustainable Population Australia, now secretary, Jill Quirk, who is also now the secretary of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria. The talk explored the noticeable effects of rapid population growth and compared some past and current projections for Melbourne’s population to mid–century and beyond, considering what Melbourne on current trends might be like in 50 years. These comparisons, not usually available, make it clear how Victorian governments have increasingly snowed citizens with every successive plan for Melbourne.
Why are people interested in population now ?
When change happens slowly people are less likely to notice but as it speeds up they do. Older people will notice change more as they have a longer perspective.
Melbourne’s’ population is now growing by about 100,000 per year. Melbourne’s cars also increase by about 100,000 per year. In the year 2014-5 when Melbourne’s population grew by 91,600 or 2.1%, Hobart’s population grew by 1,700 or 0.8%. Population growth thus would not be noticed nearly as much there where growth is so much slower and from a much smaller base, so smaller numbers are added.
We all now realise that Melbourne’s population is growing very fast. In the last 20 years the subject of population growth has gone from a hidden topic to one that has constant exposure. In fact there is little on the news and radio programs that does not relate to our city as a fast growing place.
What sorts of things are mentioned in the media?
Traffic, planning issues, public transport – e.g. Railway crossing elimination, new underground and the tension this causes with those who want to protect the trees; suburban sprawl , housing affordability, pressure on schools , medical services, etc.
Less often now – but still relevant – water, wild life, environment.
In the city and suburbs changes can be seen in the very physical nature of the city. They directly affect us.
What do we observe in our daily lives?
In established inner and middle suburbs of Melbourne one sees changes, which are usually to accommodate more people per unit of land. We see demolitions of houses to make way for much denser living arrangements. Residents capitalize by clubbing together to sell a few houses in one street so that higher density accommodation can be built and a larger profit made from the land. It would not be possible for such profits to be made if the population were not rising rapidly. It is population pressure on limited land that causes this phenomenon. Such actions are actually extremely anti-social as they mean doing a dis-service to one’s neighbours and then disappearing!
For those who live further out especially in areas known as “growth corridors", they observe new roads being built, farms being sold, market gardens disappearing, trees and natural areas, wild life habitat being sacrificed.
We are all aware of increased traffic , pressure on house prices and affordability problems, pressure on services such as hospitals and schools, greater regulation, particularly parking.
Why is Melbourne’s population growing so fast?
1. Overseas immigration has increased significantly since the 1990s.
2. The population tends to congregate in the capital cities despite Australia’s “boundless plains”. At one stage, during the mining boom, Perth was the fastest growing city in Australia and at another stage it was Sydney. Now Melbourne takes the dubious prize. Since Premier Jeff Kennett's election, Melbourne has been designated a region in need of migration, making it easier to bring relatives or skilled migrants – however defined – employees of wide variety.
3. In 2017 Melbourne is an economic centre where compared with the country town and regional centres there is more work. In regional Victoria, farms have been vastly mechanized and are increasingly corporatized. It is hard to make a living from a family farm. Costs have ballooned and there is terrific global competition. Unlike in the past, banks are reluctant to finance farms. Bank lending used to be long term – now there are so many competing uses for money – e.g. urban real estate. Agricultural land is only worthwhile on large scale when sold to often foreign interests.
4. There is a world- wide drift of population to the cities.
5. This means that migrants to Australia also gravitate to the major cities, especially Melbourne. This has driven up the price of land in those cities. It is self-perpetuating as it encourages speculation and land and property banking in a vicious circle of land value inflation. You can read Melbourne's population growth almost as Victoria’s population growth and the larger part, over half of this growth, is from overseas migration.
Is there any problem with the current rate of population growth in Australia?
Australia is a large land mass, but if you look out of the window of the plane next time you fly over it, you will see that the vastness of Australia is a desert. It is never going to be settled in the way that, for instance, France is, with small and medium sized cities as well as villages all over the country. The US is also settled quite differently from Australia, with many medium sized cities all over. In Australia we hug the coast.
The present population of Australia is distributed similarly over the continent to the way the Australian Aborigines settled. A very recent genetic study by a group associated with La Trobe University shows that about 50,000 years ago the Aboriginal people arrived and settled very quickly all over the continent in stable communities. In the late 18th century, Europeans didn’t colonize a vast uninhabited land nor even, it would appear, a land of nomads, but rather, they displaced those who already lived here.
What is now Melbourne was an attractive place for the Aborigines and also to the first European settlers. From first hand reports, the area consisted of wetlands teeming with wildlife, set on a shallow bay that we know as Port Phillip Bay. The local Aboriginal population availed themselves of the rich natural offerings. Estimates of the Aboriginal population vary and are probably often under-estimated. The most plausible estimate I have seen with respect to the Aboriginal population in Australia wide is by a Dr. Jim Poulter at about 3 million and 20,000 in the “Melbourne” area. You can find the reference at /node/3720.
Europeans first settled in “Melbourne” in the 1830s, starting as a tent city. It was the nation’s capital city from 1901 to 1927 and reached a population of 1 million in 1930 - that is, in under 100 years.
Melbourne is now a city of 4.5 million and projected to grow to about 8 million by mid –century.
Is there any problem about Melbourne growing to 8 million and beyond? Is it inevitable?
Melbourne is situated within the state of Victoria and relies on the local environment for recreation, food, biodiversity. There is evidence that the current and even lower populations have not been living sustainably in Victoria:
Australian State of the Environment 2016 (just released).
From the executive summary:
“In the past 5 years (2011–16), environmental policies and management practices in Australia have achieved improvements in the state and trends of parts of the Australian environment. Australia’s built environment, natural and cultural heritage, and marine and Antarctic environments are generally in good condition.
There are, however, areas where the condition of the environment is poor and/or deteriorating. These include the more populated coastal areas and some of the growth areas within urban environments, where human pressure is greatest (particularly in south-eastern Australia); and the extensive land-use zone of Australia, where grazing is considered a major threat to biodiversity.”
“Many of the contemporary pressures on the Australian environment have increased over time as the drivers of population change and economic activity have increased the demand for food, fibre, minerals, land, transport and energy, and have increased our waste generation.”
Past Victorian State of the environment reports
• Inland water ways- only 1/5 of major rivers and tributaries in Victoria were in good or excellent condition
• Land – salinity, acidification and need for artificial fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation
• Biodiversity – increased number of threatened species
• Coastal areas-negative impact of climate change and urbanization
• Waste generation – poor and getting worse
• Energy use – poor and getting worse
• Conservation of ecosystems – fair and improving
• Marine and coastal water quality –fair and stable
• Fresh water aquatic ecosystems – poor and stable
• Threatened species, extent and condition of native vegetation- poor and getting worse
• Trends in GGE’s – poor and getting worse
• Status and trends in levels of Air pollutants – good and stable
The picture that emerges from these reports is to me alarming and should trigger and change in direction but we are not seeing this.
What about fresh food?
From the point of view of fresh food for Melbourne’s’ population there is a collision of population growth with what sustains it.
In a recent submission to Infrastructure Victoria Vice president of SPAVicTas, Jenny Warfe wrote the following :
“Dr Rachel Carey Research Fellow in Food Policy and Sustainable Food Systems, University of Melbourne, advises that Melbourne’s surrounding Green Wedges currently provide 41% of all our food: 82% of our vegetables, 39% of dairy, 100% of eggs and poultry, 63% of red meat, and 13% of fruit. Dr. Carey has also said we need to double our food production by 2050 under the current population growth trajectory."
She also pointed out that the areas around Melbourne where food can be grown are being used for housing and that this is particularly problematic in Australia where only 6% of the area is *arable.”
*suitable for crops
How are we accommodating the rising population?
At the most basic level, people must be accommodated. This is happening by:
1. Urban expansion
Recently, the state government announced 4 new suburbs to the north of Melbourne. One of these proposed suburbs, Wollert will accommodate 40,000 people or about 6 months of population growth. Yes, we need to build the equivalent accommodation of 2 of these land consuming suburbs every year. Quoting a friend “the only way to overcome the housing /crisis is to roll out these suburbs faster than we bring in the people!”
2.Urban consolidation or densification in established suburbs.
This is a highly energy consuming process of demolitions, major earthworks, reduction of permeable surfaces, and removal of vegetation including large trees. It is extremely disruptive whilst it is happening and the result invariably reduces amenity. When you think about it you cannot increase the height of a building with no change to set backs without negatively impacting on a neighbour's sunlight.
Just a seemingly small increase in heights can reduce winter sun and increase power bills. What happens to the effectiveness of your solar panels if they are overshadowed? What happens to infrastructure in the area when population is thus increased? At the same time the increased ratio of concrete to vegetation increases the “urban heat island” effect.
At the extreme end, high rise towers, housing hundreds of extra people and cars dramatically change the traffic volumes and visual character of the area from which they can be seen.
This is a key part of Liberal population strategy. See the “2050 Looking forward” document http://vicpopulation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Looking-Forward-Managing-Population-Growth-For-All-Victorians.pdf:
“The obvious strategy to reduce pressure in Greater Melbourne is to develop the regions” - Tim Smith, opposition spokesman on population pushing the idea of channeling population to the regions, such as Ballarat and Geelong.
But to put numbers in perspective, Victoria’s population grew by 123,000 last year. That’s a city the size of between Ballarat and Geelong.
The Victorian Government's "Plan Melbourne refresh" places the emphasis is on making existing Melbourne suburbs accommodate around 70% of population growth. They have said they will “save the backyard” but what will it be overshadowed with?.
There are very dramatic changes over a very short time span.
When did people start to become interested in the topic of population growth in Melbourne?
If we go back more than 15 years the urban myths were that Melbourne’s population was “going backwards”. I drove past the Point Cook area around this time with a car load of bush walkers who were stunned by the scale of outer suburban development. One of them gasped, “Where are all the people coming from?!”
Former Premier, Steve Bracks even told the people of Melbourne on ABC radio one morning that Victoria had more deaths than births. In other words, that we had negative natural increase! This was not so. In fact, at the time and right through recent decades, the situation has been the opposite to the tune of about 2 births per 1 death.
In the year to June 2002 Melbourne’s population had increased by 51, 478 people to 3,524,103 or by 1.5%. So the population was actually increasing but it was not a big news topic as it is now. The ongoing Victorian figures at that time for natural increase were around 60,000 births and about 30,000 deaths. Anything over this approximately 30,000 natural increase in population was via overseas migration, or interstate migration. Interstate migration though, in recent years, has been a rather insignificant number compared with overseas migration.
More recent figures for Victoria from births, deaths and marriages are:
2010- 71,688 births and 35,764 deaths - difference = 35,924
2016- 84,404 births and 40,015 deaths -difference = 44,389
Components of population growth in Victoria.
Population growth in Victoria is made up of -
1. Natural increase (births over deaths)
2. overseas migration
3. Inter-state migration.
The population of Melbourne also grows with the movement of people from country to city.
The population of Australia increases through natural increase and net overseas migration only. Overseas migration, a matter of government policy is the largest factor. If you look at a graph, you can see it responds very rapidly to any changes of government direction. Natural increase has far more inertia. Policies like baby bonuses may have an effect in the positive direction but this can be offset in the opposite direction by e.g. lack of housing affordability and are harder to pin-point. Response is slower. In a reasonably functioning developed situation people tend to have children when they foresee an economic climate that will be favorable to them. If an economic recession is anticipated, they may delay. If they cannot find housing they may delay. (Virginia Abernethy, Atlantic Monthly)
Year to June 2016-
Victoria’s population increased by 123,100 to 6,068,000 a growth rate of 2.1% [or a doubling rate of about 33 years]. The number is well over double the increase in 2002. Why? Immigration has increased since 2002.
In 2002-3 immigration to Australia was 125,300 and made up 52% of Australia’s population growth.
In 2014-5 it was 168,200 but has been as high as 300,000 in the last decade.
Remember Melbourne 2030?
In 2002 the Labor government’s planning blueprint “Melbourne 2030, planning for sustainable growth” aimed to fit in an extra 1 million people into Melbourne by 2030.
Before this blueprint was released, I responded to an invitation to be part of a community consultation process - a felt pen and butcher’s paper exercise. The necessity for the population growth that underpinned it was not questioned or discussed but presented as inevitable. Those who wanted to register their objections were on the whole unable to, as they had to be all sitting at the same table and they had little chance to organise this. Only issues that got a minimum number of votes at any one table were recorded. The option of not to grow the population at the rate assumed was not on offer.
The population of Melbourne at the time was 3.5 million and it is now about 4.5 million.
Successive Victorian governments have treated rapid population growth as inevitable and beyond their control. They know that unacceptable changes are being made to where we live, making life progressively less pleasant and more difficult. As the ABS figures tell us that the larger part of our population increase each year is from overseas migration, the Victorian government could send signals to the Federal government that the rate of influx is having adverse effects – but they don’t. In fact they do the opposite! They advertise for people from overseas to come and work in Victoria!
In public interactions state governments treat population growth as something they have to deal with and have no power over. Meantime the Victorian people are inconvenienced as infrastructure and services fall behind population growth.
Solving the problems of too rapid population growth is costly with the costs of level-crossing projects, cost of new roads, road maintenance, upgrading of rail systems. Australia has to build the equivalent of a new Canberra each year.
Where are we headed?
We shot past the prediction that Melbourne would have an extra 1 million people by 2030. Now it is predicted to be 8 million by 2050.
In the year 2015-2016, Melbourne grew by 2.1% down from 2.2%the previous year. At 2% p.a. and an estimated population of 4.5 million it will be 9 million in 35 years, that is, in 2052. In order NOT be 9 million the growth rate needs to slow. If it remained at 2% p.a. Melbourne's population would double again to 18 million by 2087 and 32 million by 2122. That means that in the next few years people would be born in Melbourne who may see it at 32 million.
Our establishment has not conceived of any of this being too much and there is no preparation for it.“Planning” appears to be – smoke and mirrors, tinkering around the edges to create differences in approach between team A and team B to the same problem.
Can we change our future?
Our future as a city of 8 million by 2050 is not inevitable as we can change this trajectory. If overseas migration were wound back to 1990s levels, of around 70,000 p.a., our growth would slow considerably, but we would still grow.
I implied in my title that I would go beyond 2050. I have vivid images in my mind but Katie Wong Hoy of the Age 30 August 2015 provided an image from Monash Architecture studios of how Melbourne might look accommodating about 8 million stretching out from the CBD. It is based on the footprint of Manhattan. This journalist was looking at Melbourne in 180 years’ time and using a compounding percentage growth of 2.2% (growth rate of Melbourne at the time) reaching an "alarming" (her own words) 228 million in 2195!
Difficult as it is to predict the future, I predict that this cannot happen as we would reach ecological collapse long before this.
What can you do?
If you are not happy with the current direction – here are some suggestions
Join a local group. One of the difficulties that constant change causes is that we now have difficulty getting organised to present an alternative, so anything that offers itself as a way to do so is good opportunity - residents’ groups, local conservation groups, join Sustainable Population Australia, Planning Backlash. Make comments or write articles for the alternative media, to open up discussion. Candobetter.net will publish anyone who gives the subject a go and other sites present opportunity for comment or debate. The main thing is to get the alternative to endless growth out there to counter the establishment message.
Make submissions to governments, and talk to your representatives. E.g you can make a submission to the Victorian population Policy Taskforce http://vicpopulation.com.au/have-your-say/
“Every week, groups like ours receive calls from distressed residents, appalled at the conduct of planning in Victoria. People expect clear planning rules, integrity in governance and decisions in the long term public interest. Instead we have a rampant culture of secrecy and non disclosure, conflicts of interest, a perception of favoured access and undue influence, and a risk and perception of corruption.” - Ann Birrell, Vice President of Save Our Suburbs. SOS conducted a survey of Victoria's election candidates on associated matters and found 90 per cent and more support for planning reform. Candobetter.net's editors note that 54% supported wider population debate for a stable population on ecological grounds. The full questionnaire is to be found at https://www.surveymonkey.net/results/SM-9PF3VJPL/ Over 80% of respondents admitted to thinking that Victorians are unhappy about the way Melbourne is developing. Latest update on individual candidate responses can be found on a spreadsheet here: http://sos.asn.au/vic/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/141117-Planning-Survey-of-Candidates-RO.xlsx
A survey of Victoria’s election candidates has found overwhelming support for planning reform across the state and across the political spectrum:
- Over 90% support political donations reform
- Over 90% think that the Planning Minister should publish advice relied on and reasons for decisions
- Over 95% say we need to improve transparency, accountability and integrity
The survey was conducted by Save Our Suburbs and supported by 18 other community groups, representing thousands of concerned Victorians. The results were released on the SOS website today.
"The purpose of the survey is to draw candidates' attention to key planning issues and to provide information for voters.” said Ann Birrell, Vice President of Save Our Suburbs.
“Every week, groups like ours receive calls from distressed residents, appalled at the conduct of planning in Victoria. People expect clear planning rules, integrity in governance and decisions in the long term public interest.
“Instead we have a rampant culture of secrecy and non disclosure, conflicts of interest, a perception of favoured access and undue influence, and a risk and perception of corruption.”
“Candidates from all backgrounds share our concern that planning is out of control in Victoria, from urban to rural electorates and from the far left to the far right of politics.“
“Once in Government both the Liberals and the ALP have a track record of continuing to deregulate our planning and governance system, in complete disregard for the long term public interest of Victorians.
"As a result, we are about to see a fourth Victorian Government lose office.” concluded Ann Birrell.
Live trend results: https://www.surveymonkey.net/results/SM-9PF3VJPL/
Latest update of individual responses: Planning Survey of Candidates November 2014 RO
Link to SOS Report and full Results: http://sos.asn.a
Groups supporting the Survey include:
Save Our Suburbs, Green Wedges Coalition, Protectors of Public Lands, Planning Backlash, Public Transport Users Association, Ratepayers Victoria Inc., Save Albert Park, Yarra River keepers Association, Docklands Community Association, Residents Against Inappropriate Development in Doncaster, Fitzroy Residents Association, West of Elgar Residents Association, East Enders, Western Region Environment Centre, Appropriate Development for Boronia Group, Darebin Appropriate Development Association, Citizens for a Liveable Melbourne, Moreland Planning Action Group
Source: Save Our Suburbs Media Release 17 November 2104
SavingVictoria: Invitation to Green Wedges Coalition AGM & election forum next Tuesday 28 October; Wildflower walks in the western grasslands, PPL rally vs the EWL.
1. Please consider the Green Wedges when you vote next month. With this in mind, the Green Wedges Coalition is hosting an election forum at our AGM, at 1pm on Tuesday 28 October, in the Legislative Council Committee Room at Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne.
The Labor and Greens Planning Spokesmen, Brian Tee and Greg Barber have agreed to address the AGM The Minister, Mr Guy, after initially indicating that he would address our AGM, has declined: we have asked him to send a representative. Professor Michael Buxton will also attend and speak.
NBNB: If you are able to attend, please can you RSVP to [email protected] by Monday 27/10?
The Green Wedges are still under threat, though we have been quieter than the turbulent days of the "logical inclusions", "anomalies" and the rural zones review. We are still picking up the pieces, but fortunately there is still a lot of land protected in the Green Wedges.
The threats this year are not as overt as they were before the 2010 election, but they are still there. With 50,000 ha of Green Wedge land rezoned for Urban Growth - and likely to provide up to 50 years of urban sprawl, all three parliamentary parties are now committed to protecting green wedges. Plan Melbourne provides for a permanent urban boundary, but read the fine print and you will see that the Metropolitan Planning Authority, which seems to be just the Growth Areas Authority in sheep's clothing, has responsibility for implementation, with input from Councils.
Minister Guy says this does not herald a new round of rezoning bids and we certainly hope he is right.
Apart from this, the main threats to the Green Wedges now consist of:
* Changes to the Rural Conservation Zone. as a result of the Rural Zones Review. Once the most sensitive zone for protecting the highest conservation status land, a number of tourism and urban uses have now been permitted (or have had the rule that they must be in conjunction with agriculture, wineries or other green wedge uses, removed) so that there is now less protection for RCZ, particularly in the rural areas, than there is for GWZ and GWAZ. See list below.
When Green Wedges last met with Minister Guy in June, he said he would restore the protection provisions, which he
fortunately chose to retain for the GWZ and GWAZ after initially proposing to make the same changes.
* Decisions by Kingston Council to rezone or otherwise pave the way for urban-scale subdivision (potentially) almost all of the privately owned land in the Kingston section of the Green Wedge. (For details, see the Defenders of the South East Green Wedge bulletin (below) and petition (attached).
Planning Minister Guy has said publicly that he will not rezone the Green Wedge for residential development, but neither will he restore certainty by refusing these proposals outright. Instead, uncertainty is allowed to fester, and no doubt not only in Kingston's part of the South East Green Wedge but no doubt developers and their friends in other councils are
waiting to see what happens in Kingston. The petition was presented on the last day of the parliament.
Please ask your MPs and candidates where they stand on Green Wedge protection in general and these issues in particular.
2. If you would like to take a tour of the wildflower meadows in the western basalt plains grasslands, google wildflowerwalks.org.au" and that will give you a link to Wildflower walks out West. Thanks to Colleen Miller and to Andrew Booth for the advice: he warns that when he put the address straight into the address bar it didn't work). We have invited the three parliamentary parties' planning spokesmen to take one of these tours, in the hope that whoever is Planning Minister in December will protect at least some more of the 5000 ha of high quality grasslands to be cleared as a result of the 50,000 ha of Green Wedges land cleared since 2010.
3. We helped celebrate the end of this parliamentary term on Thursday by taking part in a PPL rally against the East West Link on the Parliament steps last week. (See pics attached). We had an impact beyond our numbers thanks to Micj Connolly's beautiful placards. Thanks to Julianne Bell for her fantastic efforts to stop the EWL and to save Royal Park. As Kahn said at the last rally, if we support their rally, we hope they’ll support ours. And they certainly did in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
GWC was asked to briefly present a message of support for PT and opposition to EWL. and I read out the same message as the PT not tollroads rally last year: Green Wedges Coalition supports the campaign against the East-West link and for the rail. Building another big road only encourages more sprawl outwards (and sideways) into our green wedges. (thanks to Ann McGregor of Friends of Merri Creek for the words)
Green Wedges Coalition
0418 554 799