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Complaints about Melbourne 2030: record of submission to Planning Minister 16-8-07

This clear and hard-hitting submission could help others who are trying to fight the heartbreaking effects of forced population growth, infrastructure expansion and intensification all over Australia.

The submission below about Melbourne 2030, which is a radical populate and develop plan imposed on Victorians, was made by Sustainable Population Australia Inc., Victorian Branch to the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, re Melbourne 2030 August 2007 for meeting with community groups 16 August 2007.

Points made covered the following areas.

  1. Melbourne 2030's raison d'etre of population growth,
  2. Victorian Government's role in affecting and effecting the rate of population growth,
  3. Melbourne 2030 and population growth - style and content of consultation with people of Victoria,
  4. Quality of public information from Victorian Government regarding Melbourne 2030/population growth,
  5. Effects of Melbourne 2030 and its Population growth.


1. Population growth and Melbourne 2030

Melbourne and outer areas do not have the option of stabilizing in any way as population growth is programmed into our future. In 2002 The Bracks Government and other stakeholders held a 'summit' in Melbourne to discuss the need or otherwise of a population policy. The then Premier, Mr. Steve Bracks, in his keynote introduction pre-empted the outcome of the conference yet to happen! He made the absolute assumption that experts would converge on the desirability of increasing Victoria's population. Many in the audience had huge reservations and objections to this path mainly on the grounds of environmental sustainability.

Melbourne 2030 is about a commitment to social engineering in the form of forced population growth.


2. Victorian Government's role in affecting the rate of population growth.

Excluding net increase from international and interstate migration, Victoria's population is increasing by more than 30,000 p.a. It will be more than this with the current baby boom. This fact should be well known, but it is not.

In the year to March 2006, the additional increase from net overseas migration was 37,068 . The total increase in Victoria's population annually is in excess of 60,000 people. The Victorian government has given itself a role in affecting this number. One way it achieves this is via its $6 million skilled migration strategy which includes international and domestic marketing (see www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au).

In the 12 months to March 2006, there were 65,700 extra Victorians, or in other words, an additional Ballarat.

The Victorian Government is not a passive recipient of population growth. It actively seeks it. Victoria only needs radical planning because it has very high population growth by western standards, of which more than half is not through natural increase.


3. Consultation with the Victorian people regarding population growth and Melbourne 2030.

Many people have told me that Victorians were not consulted on Melbourne 2030.... but we were. Glossy books and pamphlets were delivered in all letter boxes with invitations to attend public meetings which were facilitated to funnel ideas from the public to the master of ceremonies at each meeting. People were separated onto tables of about 8 people each and if there was sufficient volume of opinion of a particular aspect of Melbourne's future on any one table then that idea got up and was promoted to the end distillation of ideas. The underlying assumption however was that growth was inevitable rather than a political decision. The politics and policies of engineering growth remained outside the discussion and slow or no growth were not presented as options.

There was goodwill and cooperation at the meeting I attended in Moorabbin as people enthusiastically put forward their priorities apparently thinking they were having a significant say in the Melbourne which was being shaped for future generations.

I suggest that the audit of Melbourne 2030 must seek the attitudes of Victorians to the politics of population growth and to population growth itself. Adequate consultation thereto would rely on good information about what planning decisions are necessitated by population growth - in terms of amenity, environment and economic well-being of the average citizen.


4. Information re Melbourne 2030 and Population growth from the Victorian Government.

Please make clear in public statements what is actually happening to us. It is a fact that adverse changes are occurring very rapidly to our surroundings and many people express bewilderment over this. They look at housing estates covering what used to be farmland and ask "where are all the people coming from?"

We have a longstanding approximately 2:1 birth to death ratio which means our population is growing without any immigration. On 15 August 2005, the then Premier of Victoria Mr. Bracks told the Melbourne Jon Faine morning show audience that in Victoria we had a naturally decreasing population and that deaths exceeded births. I wrote to the Premier asking him where he got his figures from and told him that the reverse was true. He never replied to my letter and as far as I know never corrected this misinformation.


5. Effects of population growth

Most new settlers in Victoria go to Melbourne. Melbourne is full. Extra population puts pressure on land, there is pressure to intensify development. "Opportunistic infilling," (Dr Bob Birrell's expression) occurs in random fashion as houses come up for sale and private buyers are out-bid by developers.

There is pressure on public land. It is lost to the public (e.g. Royal Park lost 20 ha to private development plus 85 million cash) Trees and open space are taken from both private and public spheres including gardens, parks, reserves and roadsides.

Urban consolidation is not enough to accommodate the current level of population growth. This growth puts pressure on the outer areas, on wildlife, on open space. Melbourne 2030 standards are applied in what are essentially country areas, resulting in dense developments often unpopular with incumbent residents.

Wildlife - development occurs in areas inhabited by wildlife with an ensuing conflict over territory between humans and animals. This is often only managed when brought to the attention when locals complain vigorously to the authorities. It is never resolved in favour of the animals. They always lose. e.g. Somerton kangaroos.

We ask for a wildlife assessment to be done before any development takes place and for all planning to incorporate wildlife corridors in cooperation with the Coalition for Wildlife corridors - see http://www.awpc.org.au/newsite/documents/proposal_to_link.pdf

Water - we don't have enough for current needs. Melbourne 2030 and population growth exacerbate this situation. Any savings we make will be consumed by population growth.
Pressure on house prices is increasingly caused by population growth, in which demand exceeds supply. This causes prices to rise as we have observed particularly over the last decade, when we have had very high immigration.

Recommendations:

  1. A real effort to keep the public accurately informed of demographic changes in all relevant government documents and public statements. Make information clear so as not to confuse or obscure data.
  2. 2. Seek public opinion on the underlying assumption, that we must boost our population. Does population boosting benefit the majority and, if so, in what ways? What are the negatives? How to they weigh up?
  3. Real Estate spokespeople now connect house prices with population growth when speaking publicly. Government should do likewise.
  4. Planning policy puts economic growth above environmental concerns. This needs to be redressed. Planning policy must take in the Precautionary Principle where growth compromises our environment.
  5. High density living in the outer areas of Melbourne which are poorly served by public transport leaves communities vulnerable to being marooned in terms of basic requirements and transport by declining oil affordability / availability. In addition, tiny lot sizes remove most opportunity for self sufficiency in food provision. To remedy this the Government should make zoning changes. R1 allows very small lots in regional towns and outer suburbs (with potential for higher population density than in Singapore and Berlin). We need to keep outer suburbs open and spacious. SPA suggest a new Residential zone 3 with a minium of lot sizes at 500 square metres and above, plus minimum permeable area of 50% per lot.
  6. More space for large trees in inner and outer suburbs is essential to maintain transpiration and microclimate, and to keep temperatures down. In the past 150 years increases in population and activities have impacted thermodynamically to raise city temperatures. (For instance snow rarely falls in cities anymore).
  7. The expected effects of oil depletion should be taken into account in planning- i.e. the layout of the city and suburbs, transport needs for commuting and provision, delivery of food and degree of opportunity for self-sufficiency.

Jill Quirk
President, SPA Victoria
with Sheila Newman, Vice President, SPA Victoria