The recent announcement of yet another new suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne is nothing to celebrate despite its upbeat name of ‘Merrifield’, according to the Victorian and Tasmanian branch of Sustainable Population Australia.
“As Melbourne continually bursts what were once its boundaries, open space for wildlife, agriculture and escape from the metropolis are being swallowed up in a sea of homogeneous suburbia," said President Quirk.
'It is disturbing that, despite our widespread distaste for urban sprawl, the growth machine keeps rolling it out,” she observed."
Ms Quirk described the opening of the new suburb as "a very serious matter." And she said that there is in fact, no end to this very rapid process unless we rein in our population growth.
Myth that Growth is Inevitable
“It is a widely held belief that population growth is inevitable but it is not. Australia and thus Victoria could stabilise their populations by the end of this century by immediately reducing immigration to more modest levels and maintaining our current fertility rate over the long term.” says Ms. Quirk.
Myth that Growth is Good
President Quirk identified another myth - that we must have some growth for its own sake or for some sort of economic benefit. She explained:
There is no benefit in population growth to the people already living in Australia without at least equal growth in both economic output and at the same time an improvement in quality of life. This is not happening, especially with respect to quality of life in this country which has one of the fastest population growth rates of any developed nation.
Quality of life diminishes with overpopulation
She drew attention to the fact that:
Traffic congestion renders many people’s lives utterly miserable in their daily commutes to earn the means to service the mortgages for their unaffordable housing. Natural light is dealt out in meager proportions to those taking up residence in higher density areas of Melbourne closer to the CBD.”
“The promise of 20,000 temporary jobs in Merrifield during construction is an example of the extent to which - in our defective economic system - employment depends on continuing population growth and consequent construction, a process like a dog chasing its tail.
Drawing upon the reliance of human life on the health of the natural world, she said that this process needs to stop "for environmental and thus survival reasons."
Responding to the latest spin from some of the growth lobbyists - that we cannot stop population growth quickly because some people might lose jobs - (Bernard Salt on the ABC on Tuesday 21 May, RN Drive with Waleed Aly), she said that purportedly we have been increasing overseas immigration because there are not enough people to do those jobs.
The bigger and faster population growth, the harder to stop
She stressed, however, that:
"The real problem with deliberately accelerating our population growth now is that it will make the job of stabilising our population in the future an increasingly slow, painful and difficult task, like turning the Queen Mary around. By that time the necessity will be obvious to everyone.”
“In the interests of all, a clever Victorian government should be planning for a stable population in Victoria, as cheap energy becomes more scarce, as our environment deteriorates as a result of population pressure, and as climate change reduces the state’s human carrying capacity."
She concluded by saying that a far sighted Victorian government would get us off the growth merry-go-round - sooner rather than later - out of consideration for younger and future generations who will be left to pick up the environmental, economic and social pieces of our population excesses.