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Videos of Professor Buxton's speech at Victoria First in Ringwood, plus questions and comments

Videos inside. Professor Buxton's speech and comments were hair-raising because he acknowledged our dire circumstances. He also confirmed a lot about how little government listens to citizens. Much of this comes out in the speech itself, but more comes out in the comments in the second film. We hope to find time to do a better commentary, with quotes, to whet your appetite and help you distill the information in the films. We would appreciate any help in transcribing the films and possibly subtitling the second because it is at times indistinct due to failure to remember to bring an extension cord for the camcorder. For the moment, however, we are mainly bringing these films to people who will find what Dr Buxton has to say most instructive.

Professor Buxton spoke of the historical government way of coping with population growth as waiting for a build- up and then a response to the added population. He pointed out that population growth now is adding millions much quicker than in the past. Measures need to be taken to limit population increases or to better accommodate them. It is certain that densities in our cities will increase. Investment capital is very interested in 14-16 storey buildings and it is eyeing off main roads for this. Expanding our cities outwards is not very attractive and there are big trade-offs for those who decide to live there due to the lack of services.

(Embeddeded videos of speech and discussion included.)

State governments develop new plans about every 6 years which is not conducive to long term planning.

Prof Buxton outlined the new zones in the planning scheme and said that the councils’ (protective) responses to the zones had been described by the Property Council as “locking up” the areas. Prof Buxton pointed out that the current government has not divested itself of Melbourne 2030 and has identified huge areas of land for population growth. Basically the new plans are just superimposed and added to Melbourne 2030. Prof. Buxton referred to cities in Europe especially in Scandinavia with stable populations and without all the concomitant problems of population growth, which our city and others in Australia suffer from. Melbourne is not the norm, and developers are not paying the costs of population growth. A few people are getting very rich while the rest of us pay, he pointed out.

Developers want to get into the middle established suburbs, demolish houses and build medium density. We stand to lose our heritage (pre WW 2 housing) and space. Prof. Buxton said there are alternative sites to accommodate population growth, land which has not been built on which would be a far better alternative, if we must have massive population growth (and he said he preferred we did not) to drastically changing Melbourne’s established suburbs.

In his speech, Professor Buxton had referred to the theory of focused benefits and diffuse costs as an explanation for high immigration persisting in the face of democratic objections. Sheila Newman mentioned that this was the theory of her 2002 research thesis, called The Growth Lobby in Australia and its absence in France. She said that since that time she had noticed how hard it was for students in universities to get support to do research against population growth and she asked Professor Buxton if he had the same perception that the increasing influence of the private sector on universities meant that there was little opportunity to question the established ideology. Professor Buxton agreed that this was the trend.

Questions and comments to Prof. Buxton included the importance of the back yard, employment, the effect of population growth and expansion of infrastructure on balance of payments. In addition people referred to the lack of power of local government and the way that State government drives growth. One person said he had the impression that the government was in a panic, responding to problems willy-nilly.

Michael Buxton pointed out at the end that we do not have a good choice and variety of new housing. Melbourne is now taking the worst from both Asian and US cities. He made the point that the Labor Government has recently been returned in SA on the basis of Premier Jay Weatherall’s public assessment of Adelaide as being a good sized city needing more infrastructure, rather than needing a greater population.

Editors at have not yet been able to confirm this. We would appreciate some opinions and more information.