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New Government land grab to benefit developers, city sprawl to devour Melbourne’s green wedges

The Green Wedges Coalition explains how Planning Minister Matthew Guy wants to turn 6000ha of Melbourne's green wedges over to development. The Liberal Government has a majority of one in parliament and this green wedges destruction is a foregone conclusion if the Libs all vote to support Matthew. CDB Editor says: Ask your government representative what he or she intends to do to prevent this abrogation of democracy and this insult to our natural environment and the wildlife it shelters. Let us know their answer. If you read this after the voting, then ask your MP what he voted for. You can look it up on Hansard too. Addition: The “Logical Inclusions” (6000 ha excised from the green wedges, taking habitat wetlands etc.) was passed by Parliament on 14/8. The new threat to Green Wedges – may be even worse as it affects the non-growth councils like MPSC as well as the growth councils – is the proposed changes to the zones which would allow a lot of urban uses into the Green Wedges.

Mathew Guy MP plans 6000 ha grab of our Green Wedges

In the latest assault on Melbourne’s green wedges, Planning Minister Matthew Guy plans to take another 6000 ha from the green wedges to give Melbourne more urban sprawl and to concrete over more fertile farmland and environmentally significant wetlands, grasslands and woodlands. This is subject to a vote in Parliament which will bring huge unearned windfall profits to landholders, developers and their lobbyists, including Liberal party donors and fund-raisers: an estimated $500 million for one 103 ha property (see the Age Liberal-donors-win-big-from-rezoning; Coalition policy is for another Urban Growth Boundary Review (UGB) review is due in two years, about the time of the next election.

This latest Green Wedge land grab will create continuing uncertainty around the Urban Growth Boundary by proposing 14 areas to be excised from the green wedges for urban growth and recommending a further 16 areas for “possible future review.” This signals that Melbourne will go on sprawling for as long as the Coalition Government stays in office. A further 20 green wedge areas were ruled out for urban development.

Overwhelming majority of Victorians are against this

This latest green wedge land grab is particularly deplorable as it is not based on any demonstrated need for more development land. The Growth Areas Authority recently estimated that the Growth Corridor Plans (for the 43,600 ha of land rezoned in 2010) would provide 20 to 50 years’ land supply for the continued urban sprawl which most of us don’t want. Every representative survey conducted, from Manningham’s in 2002 to Kingston’s in 2011, finds overwhelming majorities want green wedges protected for environmental conservation, agriculture, parklands, landscape value and recreation.

Even Victoria's rotten environmental laws don't condone this

It appears to breach federal requirements that environmental strategies to protect endangered species including Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and Golden Sun Moth must be finalised first and that urban development plans must work around them. None of these environmental strategies have been finalised and the SBB strategy has been postponed for six months. Meanwhile land that spans a proposed bandicoot habitat corridor in Casey has been approved for excision from the green wedge. See VNPA media release.

What is Mathew Guy in parliament for if not to listen to the electorate? That is the question.

We are calling on Matthew Guy to listen to communities, abandon plans for illogical incursions and return to policies to protect the green wedges. This may disappoint the developers and property consultants, but will please everyone else.

Source: Much of this article (but not the headings) was based on a statement from Rosemary West, Joint Coordinator, Green Wedges Coalition. Predominant Source of this article: Green Wedges Coalition - a vision for Melbourne, 16 June, 2012, Media Release. Local details have been dropped off this article because some of them have changed.

Comments

LIBERAL great Sir Rupert Hamer would be ''horrified'' and ''surprised'' at what the Baillieu government was doing to Melbourne's green wedge areas, according to Sir Rupert's daughter.

Alliance defends Melbourne's 'lungs' of 30 Aug 2012 by Jason Dowling at www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/alliance-defends-melbournes-lungs-20120829-2513q.html

Historic Mornmoot - on 124 hectares - was at one stage owned by Neville Young of the Young & Jackson's Hotel, and more recently by David Leighton, founder of the Leighton Group. In Whittlesea, in Melbourne's north, the green wedge-zoned property is expected to make way for a series of housing estates.

Legitimate native species will be pushed to the edge of extinction. While there's a certain amount of redundancy in Nature, digging up grasslands, impacting on wetlands and fragile coastal areas is like deliberately popping the "rivets" that hold together our ecological foundation - and existence.

Once too many rivets on a plane's wing pop, it means impending disaster. The same is for our biodiversity services - the "rivets" that hold our life-support system together are being destroyed.

Richmond office sale breaks record price of 1 September 2012 by Marc Pallisco at www.smh.com.au/business/property/richmond-office-sale-breaks-record-price-20120831-255va.html

It's an invasion by stealth into protected zones. There's no "logic" to it but a crazed gluttony for growth.

Melbourne's population obesity is spilling over and creeping into buffer zones previously protected by the Hamer government in the 1960s. "Planning" in State governments now is a synonym for fast-tracking building permits for developers and their allied supporters. Without a belt or any boundary, and without firm buffer zones to infrastructure, housing and more concrete, Melbourne is being destroyed as a liveable and sustainable city. The "shortages" of public transport, public services, schools and jobs are actually an overshoot of immigration-driven population growth - something that is targeted to continue next year!

I just want to congratulate Post Growth Era on his/her effective, fine, use of language.

We are indeed ruled by Crazed Growth Gluttons. I had never thought of them quite like this, but that is what it is. It is an addiction to power and money, brought on by the play between having and wanting. The growth gluttons go all out to get past one boundary, but having achieved that, the dopamine drops and then they have to create a new boundary to break to keep up the dopamine rewards. It doesn't matter who suffers. Our planners, developers, financiers and leaders are behaving as if they suffer from dopamine depletion. If they weren't building everywhere and trampling peoples' rights they would be gambling all their money away or drinking themselves to oblivion. It would be better for Melbourne if that's all they did because they are ruining everything.

This whole Melbourne Planning system is just a kind of ultimate addiction phenomenon. VCAT is like a dealer and bartender, keeping the tension up, adjusting the dosage. But the customers will never be satisfied.

The whole planning department and all the developers and their parliamentary servants need a 12 step program and total abstinence from gratuitous development population engineering. We would all be much better off if they all went on the dole and stopped their continuous interference in absolutely everything.

I feel frustrated and powerless - the once-pleasant city I grew up and live in is progressively being ruined by growth-obsessed governments and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I thought Justin Madden was bad, but Matthew Guy is turning out to be even worse - he is profiled in today's The Age.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/connect-asia/chinese-investment-in-australian-real-estate-rising/1013948

Don't tell me it's xenophobic to say that filling this country up with foreign multimillionaires who are mostly interested in construction and land-lording isn't a great big social and moral problem!

If you don't want to click on the link to the Radio Australia link and transcript, here are the highlights:

The Australian Government has created a new business migration category where anyone with $500m gets residency.

In the past 6 yrs $45b has been invested by Chinese enterprises in Australian businesses, mostly in mining and oil and gas. According to CBRE Research, real estate is a small but significant part of the total. It says 30% of all apartment developments in the country are by foreign investors, who are 90% Asian. The largest group are from Singapore, with a 37% share. Hong Kong companies have 20%, and China 9%.

In Melbourne MOST of the $500m came from Chinese developers investing in the past two years. Ling Guiru is the economic counsellor with the Chinese Consulate in Sydney:

"More and more Chinese immigration come here. They want to settle here. They need a house. And our government also encourage not only natural resources mining companies who come here, but also agriculture, technology and so on. So that's why more and more Chinese[incomprehensible] come here."

Wallis Wang is a property developer and vice president of the SRE group, which has been operating for 30 years and is headquartered in Hong Kong and Shanghai. He told Sue Lannon Australia is attractive for its lifestyle and good return on investment and because its regulatory system is transparent.

These big developers and businesses have made terrible environmental problems for China. Why should they be encouraged to come here? They should be made to live in the country they have ruined, along with the people who cannot leave it. Instead our so-called leaders in Australia are inviting them here to ruin our country.

"Personally I think that this is much more stable than other countries, especially comparing with China. Australia have very beautiful living environment and from a political point of view is very stable, so people are willing to invest their wealth in Australia and can see appreciation going up ... That's why we trust to keep investing in Australia."

The Australian Government is actively encouraging wealthy business immigrants, especially from China, with its introduction last May of a new business visa. It gives residency for those with $500m or more to invest in Government bonds or directly into a business. In some cases, it allows investment in real estate through managed funds.

The Chinese are looking for better investment returns than in the Chinese Market which has 'calmed down to reasonable levels'.

The Chinese developers and investors are worried that they might be singled out for discriminatory treatment if there is a change of government. So far, however, it looks like any discrimination has been very much in their financial favor!

Already there are unlimited temporary sponsored working visas to Australia. These "temporary" workers are then allowed, after 4 years, to apply for PR. New Zealanders can enter Australia unlimited.

This 457 visa allows a business to employ someone from outside Australia in a skilled job in Australia. If you hold this visa, you can:

work in Australia for up to four years
bring your family with you
travel in and out of Australia as often as you want

The 457 visa is Australia’s principal long-term working visa, and as such is the favoured means among Australian employers looking to bring on skilled offshore talent, or individuals who want to work temporarily in Australia.

The 457 visa program is demand driven and therefore uncapped (unlimited in the number of visas the government can approve) and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) "Centres of Excellence" who process these applications prioritise quick processing so that Australian businesses can access the skilled workers they need from overseas without delay through the visa process.

Business-savvy migrants with at least $5 million to invest in Australia can apply for new investor visas from November. The investment visas were announced in May and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen released what the conditions were on Wednesday.

People can submit expressions of interest through SkillSelect from November 24.

Wealthy investors lured with new visas

With little industry in Australia, and heavy reliance on the now-peaked mining industries, wealth creation and revenue raising has resorted to actually poaching not only skilled from Asia and developing nations, but the wealthy too. It assumes that Australia has unlimited natural resources to plunder, and that any population pressures, infrastructure shortages and costs of living can simply be passed onto voters who will bear the brunt of this excessive welcome to Australia of unlimited numbers of foreigners.

Discussing of population has been (almost) successively squashed by political correctness, and any criticism of our immigration levels - mostly from Asia - is automatically deemed "racist" and "xenophobic".

We face challenging times ahead, with a changing climate and managing natural resource depletions. Adding more people is a sign that those who have their bums on seats in our political power-houses have little appreciation of Nature, planetary threats, social justice issues, and the pressures on our social and environmental structures that are exacerbated by increasing populations.

Australia is being wrecked by an environmentally bankrupt administration. They imagine that Australia is no more than an Economy, and our economy can survive, despite a sterile and depleted environment, overwhelmed by concrete housing, urban sprawl and the multiple demands of growing human numbers.

Bandicoot,

You write, "Discussing of population has been (almost) successively squashed by political correctness, and any criticism of our immigration levels - mostly from Asia - is automatically deemed "racist" and "xenophobic".

Instead of 'automatically deemed', I would suggest 'cynically deemed', by those who profit from and therefore lobby for overpopulation in Australia.

They also give air to people who hold legitimate concerns about racism, whilst massively restricting the real debate about overpopulation and loss of democracy.

Our governments and their commercial friends seem to be at war with citizens and to want to take everything we have from us.

Racism used to mean the idea that people of "other" races and ethnic origins were intrinsically inferior. We now know that all humanity has common roots, and common ancestors, and we are all "out of Africa". Skin colour, culture and physical features are all superficial, or human constructs.
However, "racism" is targeted now to anyone who questions our forced and politically decided population growth, assuming it's about "race" - a clever way from diverting the issue from sheer numbers and human-footprint impacts.

"Race" is a minor consideration, something that can be addressed through social cohesion. The real concerns are much more profound and much harder to overcome - unsustainable population growth. Even mention of skin colour, country of origin etc has become "racist" to some degree.
There are valid cases of racism, and these can't be hidden away in history. The treatment of aborigines, the loss of their languages, culture, territorial lands and traditions are obvious ones.
"Cynically deemed" is closer to the new version of "racism" - any questioning of our booming and widening immigration program.