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ALP Kelvin Thomson MP says Five Million is too many; Melbourne should control population growth

Full text of this submission may be downloaded here in a pdf file 293.43kb.

Kelvin Thompson, ALP, Federal Member for Wills, (a House of Representatives seat.) Wills is located in the north-west of Melbourne, Victoria, comprising Coburg, Coburg North, Gowanbrae, Hadfield, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale, and Strathmore, extending as far north as Fawkner, Glenroy and the Western Ring Road and south to include most of Brunswick and Brunswick East and containing parts of the State electorates of Pascoe Vale, Brunswick, Broadmeadows, Thomastown and Essendon. At a local Government level it shares most of its borders with Moreland, but includes Strathmore from the municipality of Moonee Valley and the Essendon Airport.)

It is indeed cheering to hear a member of the Federal Government criticise the policies of the Growth Lobbyists in Australia. The speech quoted at length below was in Labor MP attacks Melbourne's expansion plan ( July 20 2009) misreported in the Age where it was conflated with statements from the Committee of Melbourne. This conflation misled me and others to believe that Kelvin Thompson was against expansion into the Green Wedges, but was calling for open slather along the main arteries of Melbourne. If you read his submission or the quotes below, you will see that he is actually stating that more population growth in Melbourne is environmentally and socially unsustainable. He is critical of arguments for expansion or infilling. He also exposes the related hypocrisy and nonsensicality of the Government's climate change policies in the light of continuous population growth. He even exposes the fact that the Victorian State Government advertises for high immigration, a fact that they constantly avoid making clear to the long-suffering public.

I have to say: Bravo Kelvin Thompson! You show leadership in a government apparently composed mostly of cowards and ignoramuses who take orders from big business against the interests of their electorates. The only thing you have left out is the role that the Federal Government plays in granting the states the numbers they so vociferously demand of it.

Headings are by the candobetter editor:

Kelvin writes:

"Our city is forecast to have 4 million people living in it by the end of this year, with annual population growth rates reaching 2% (Colebatch 2009). The outer fringe of Melbourne is currently taking 61% of our population growth (Buckley 2009). This is placing pressure on the existing Urban Growth Boundary.

Climate change is the biggest moral issue of our time

Climate change is the biggest moral issue of our time and addressing it must be at the forefront of our public policy planning. Compared to other major cities throughout the developed world, Melbourne has one of the highest rates of carbon emissions per capita. Our city’s cars, trucks, motorcycles and public transport services were recently recorded to generate 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, compared with just 8.5 million tonnes in London. This equates to 3.1 tonnes of carbon per person in Melbourne compared with 1.2 tonnes per person in Greater London. One of the key reasons for our significantly higher rate of emissions per person is because of Melbourne’s larger geographic area, which means journeys tend to be longer and heavily reliant on cars (Lucas & Millar 2008).

Twice the number of people in Melbourne will mean twice the amount of carbon emissions, congestion and pollution.

Existing Government policies are encouraging an expansion of up to 75,000 people a year. If we continue down this public policy path we will need to accommodate another 1 million people before 2025 (Buckley 2009). By 2036 Melbourne is predicted to have a further 1.8 million people, nearly twice the number forecast in Melbourne 2030 (Moncrief 2008). Twice the number of people in Melbourne will mean twice the amount of carbon emissions, congestion and pollution.

Submission to the Urban Growth Boundary Review

1. Executive Summary

Our city has reached the point where we need to change direction or risk our social and environmental future.

Melbourne is at a fork in the road. For a long time our city, its way of life and the opportunities it offers to all who come here has been the envy of cities around the world. To maintain this desirable situation we must act decisively to address the issues that threaten Melbourne with becoming another crowded, over populated, congested and polluted metropolis. Our city has reached the point where we need to change direction or risk our social and environmental future.

The Urban Growth Boundary Melbourne@ 5 million review provides the opportunity to investigate the issues currently facing our city and the options we still have to address them. This submission will identify the ecological issues associated with expanding the northern, western and southern Urban Growth Boundaries and discuss the long term consequences for Melbourne of the proposed expansion. I am making recommendations which will protect Melbourne’s social and economic
growth, local amenity, transport system and reduce our carbon footprint. I have put forward an alternative plan to that of an ever expanding urban fringe.

Melbourne is one of the world’s most liveable cities. This year it was ranked third out of 140 cities as being the most liveable city. Our lifestyle, employment opportunities, health system, education system, infrastructure and environment are all aspects of a community that is the envy of many around the world (The Age 2009).

Melbourne is now the fastest growing city in Australia, with thousands flocking to live here on a never before seen scale. Melbourne’s population is growing on a scale not seen in Australia before, swelling by almost 150,000 people in two years (Colebatch 2009). The 2001 Census recorded Melbourne’s population at 3.3 million people (ABS 2001). In 2006 our population reached 3.6 million (ABS 2006). It has continued to grow faster than that of any other city in the country.

Melbourne’s population grew by 74,713 in the year to last June and by 74, 791 during the previous year. Melbourne’s population is growing by more than 200 people a day, or almost 1500 per week. Melbourne’s population growth last year far outpaced all other major Australian cities. Sydney grew by 55,047 (1.35%), Brisbane by 43,404 (2.3%) and Perth by 43,381 (2.8%) (Colebatch 2009).

In response to revised population projections showing that Melbourne will reach five million people faster than anticipated, the Victorian Government announced its intention to review the Urban Growth Boundary in December 2008 (DoPCD 2009:i). The Urban Growth Boundary was introduced in 2002 as part of Melbourne 2030 (DoPCD 2009A). The boundary was expressly put in place to contain urban sprawl. It was expressly designed to prevent ongoing urban expansion into rural land surrounding metropolitan Melbourne and its fringe (DoSE 2005). It set out to place a clear limit to metropolitan Melbourne’s development. It sought to concentrate urban expansion into growth areas that are served by high capacity public transport (DoSE 2005A).

The most recent review of Melbourne @ 5 million forecasts an additional 600,000 new dwellings in Melbourne with 284,000 of these needing to be located in growth areas. Most of this future growth will be in the north and west of Melbourne (DoPCD 2009:i).

The State Government is investigating changes to the Urban Growth Boundary in response to updated population forecasts and revised longer term growth issues (DoPCD:6). Areas under consideration for urban expansion include 20,448
hectares in Melbourne’s west around Caroline Springs, Melton and Werribee; 25,385 hectares around Sunbury, Craigieburn and Donnybrook and 5560 hectares east of Cranbourne.

Under the plan Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary would be allowed to grow another 41,000 hectares to accommodate an extra 415,000 people. Development of these areas would lead to a loss of some of the most valuable grasslands on the city’s fringe (Dowling & Lahey 2009).

Around the urban fringe, we have a concentration of some of the most endangered ecosystems in Australia, including Western Basalt Plains Grassland and Grassy Woodland, and a diverse range of other vegetation types and threatened species (Environment Victoria 2009). It is vital we do everything we can to protect these ecologically sensitive and important areas from being overrun by high density development.

The Victorian Government is now seeking public feedback on the proposals regarding the proposed changes to the Urban Growth Boundary before a final decision is made (DoPCD 2009:3). In making a final decision, I encourage the Victorian Government to consider the issues of population, local amenity and liveability, climate change, economic growth and transport. I have put forward recommendations that are designed to tackle urban sprawl and that will continue to protect the
things that make Melbourne great.

Everything that makes our city the great place to live, work and raise a family, is potentially under threat if population growth and urban sprawl continue at the current rate.

Everything that makes our city the great place to live, work and raise a family, is potentially under threat if population growth and urban sprawl continue at the current rate. We must implement a strategy to control population growth, urban expansion and development. Our way of life, open spaces and infrastructure cannot be sacrificed on the altar of ever expanding population. We have a responsibility to secure our city’s future through thorough, thoughtful and detailed planning. This
planning should not include an expanding Melbourne waistline.

[...]

Encouraging urban sprawl and ever increasing high density developments will lead to a more
polluted, congested and unsustainable Melbourne. Bringing millions of people in to Melbourne will increase the stress on water supplies that are already strained, increase reliance on fossil fuels by communities that are on our urban fringe, and it will increase Melbourne’s carbon footprint when we must be reducing it.

Regrettably the planning process in Melbourne is not being used to achieve environmental sustainability. Melbourne is generating more greenhouse emissions, using more water, losing open space and turning into a high rise steel and concrete jungle. Planners and policy makers talk the talk of protecting Melbourne’s environment, but their actions have the opposite effect. They behave as Gough Whitlam once described rowers facing in one direction but heading in the opposite one.

The promise of Green Wedges to give Melbourne lungs of open space in which to breathe has been broken

A fundamental component of planning for Melbourne’s growth during the 1970s was the concept of
urban growth corridors radiating outwards, separated by wedges of non-urban land (Friends of Merri Creek 2009:3). But the promise of Green Wedges to give Melbourne lungs of open space in which to breathe has been broken, and is proposed to be broken yet again. We need to retain Green Wedges as permanent wedges between growth corridors, not as potential urban land supply that is bulldozed as soon as there is a demand for it.

Comments

Dear Mr Thomson MP
I have read your statements on the website (We)candobetter.org
I thoroughly agree that our population growth is out of control. Nothing is achieved by adding more people to Melbourne, or Victoria, or Australia. Any problem is exacerbated by adding more people and not one problem will be solved!
The Labor Party under Mr Brumby has become an estate agent, an agent for land developers and builders, the mortgage industry, and part of the pro-growth lobby. This is NOT in the interests of most of Victorians. Our population growth is not something imposed on us that our government is forced to manage! It is orchestrated by our historically high immigration program, by people flooding into Victoria, and by the number of international students lured here to then apply for PR.
Our tertiary education institutions, including public ones, have become back-door immigration entrances to Australia, a sham export industry that is denying our own youth jobs, course places, funded public education and housing. Any criticisms of our population growth is being clouded by "racism" when it purely about numbers, not country of origin.
How can we, genuinely, send delegates to the climate change conference in Copenhagen while we are deliberately adding people at our rate? Haven't our leaders read Ian McPhail's "State of the Environment Report" (last year)? We are already well over the boundaries of sustainable growth. Our wildlife are being eradicated, our forests are drying, and native animals will continue to lose their homes while green corridors and wedges are buried under concrete. We can't have a viable biodiversity while housing density and infrastructures continue to destroy our ecology and natural resources.

Thank you for speaking out!

Dear Vivienne,

Thanks for taking the time to speak out on this issue of ever increasing importance. It's well past time we had a full, intelligent and informed public debate about this issue. Australians have been too long been disenfranchised about this issue - we need to speak out now clearly and intelligently and make our leaders listen! After an election where he carefully avoided mentioning immigration Rudd has imposed record immigration levels upon us without our consent. He suddenly came out the other night and said he believes in a big Australia - well why didn't he tell us before the election instead of treating us like children. Of course the debate is about numbers and not about 'types' of people - the word 'racism' has no proper place here- regards Peter

The maths of refugeeism.

There is a serious lack of understanding of basic mathematics by Australians, but it's not in the schools, it's with the Ministry for Immigration & Citizenship, with Chris Evans. The maths of refugeeism goes something like this.

The world population of humans is over seven billion, which is about six billion more than our little Earth can sustain without wiping out all other species of animals and most plants.

Of this seven billion humans, at least five billion live in countries where there are conditions that meet the criterion for genuine refugeeship, that is, where there is a regime where people have a genuine fear for their lives, from Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, all middle-East and African countries and most South American countries.

About half of the populations of these countries face death under their governments and the other half face death if the alternative government gets into power. That adds up to five billion people world wide who can claim to be "genuine refugees".

Where can they go? There are only a seven countries where foreign groups are not in fear of their lives, Europe, USA, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Problem is that Japan and Russia are maths savvy, and so, are well aware of the number-of-refugees problem, and have closed their doors. Europe and the USA are closing their doors too. That leaves Canada, Australia and New Zealand to accept those five billion "genuine refugees".

If Canada takes in half of them, that leaves 2.5, billion refugees for New Zealand and us. Being a caring and sharing person, I'm sure John Key who seems to have inherited the politicians' disease of maths deficiency, would happily share the load and take in, say, a mere 100 million which would increase New Zealand's population to polyglottery of 103 million and neatly solve the Maori "problem".

Which leaves Australia with a more-manageable number of 2.499 billion "refugees" for us to accommodate.

Since there are about 10 million houses in Australia, that would mean that each house would have to accommodate 250 refugees in each house. Add on four of us Australians, that makes 254 which means about 83 in each of the three bedrooms. Frankly, we wouldn't like that, nor would any of our friends, because we are not maths deficient like Mr Rudd's colleagues. Nor would our rellies in Perth or the other four cities readily put out the welcome mat for them. And an Aboriginal mia mia would be stretching to accommodate three, let alone 83!

So the only solution would seem to be to accommodate them in Canberra, after all it's their idea. But don't tell Canberrans that they'll have to share each bedroom with 8330 more people. The maths of it is, of the 93,000 homes in Canberra, there would probably be 300,000 bedrooms to be divided amongst the 2.499 billion genuine "refugees".

Now, some of my good mathematician friends argue that my calculations are exaggerated, that my figures are much less, as much as 50%. If they are right, Canberrans will be relieved to know that they will only have to share each of their bedroom with only 4165 "refugees".

Raymond F. Smith
Retired, formerly:
Senior Lecturer in Communications Media at the Regional Centre for Education in Science And Mathematics, Malaysia.
Area Specialist with the Australian Science Education Project

Raymond F. Smith - formerly a Senior Lecturer in Communications Media at the Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics, Malaysia...

- who finishes his article with some arrant refugee numbers - and where to put them!

(...Since there are about 10 million houses in Australia, that would mean that each house would have to accommodate 250 refugees in each house.)

... "Now, some of my good mathematician friends argue that my calculations are exaggerated, that my figures are much less, as much as 50%. Raymond says finally: "If they are right, Canberrans will be relieved to know that they will only have to share each of their bedroom with only 4165 "refugees".

A while ago I also dared to ask the question of when enough is enough - but was denounced as racist.

Apparently it is our 'humane duty' to accommodate refugees (presumably until the cows came home).

(Thesaurus.com definitions of refugee follow)

blow in (s)
floater (s)
foreigner (s)
greenhorn(s)
guest (s)
immigrant(s)
incomer(s)
interloper(s)
intruder(s)
invader(s)
migrant(s)
newcomer(s)
noncitizen(s)
refugee(s)
squatter(s)
stranger(s)
visitor(s)
weed(s)

Hmmnnnn? ... Yes, I was of course, denounced as selfish and inhumane, as usual... but do we have reciprocal laws in countries where ... incomers - are fleeing from? - I'm ready to flee...

Here in Australia pensioners, students and the unemployed are being denied a liveable wage, and the funding to our public schools, hospitals, housing and higher education is continually being stretched, due to our heavy population growth rate.

Both the Labor and Liberals are more interested in corporate wealth and profits than the needs of people, and with our manufacturing industries and many public assets sold off for globalisation, land speculation and property investment are the the biggest urban industries now - thus the need for a continual flow of buyers!

In a report released in December last year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said 25 million to 1 billion people could be displaced by climate change by mid-century.

Some asylum seekers no doubt are unsuitable to assimilate, but where is our nation's compassion and duty of care towards people, climate justice, and protection for the environment that all life depends on?

We can't take all the world's refugees, but our capacity to accommodate refugees is being impeded by our own, manufactured, population growth rate.