Government Growth Policy is not working – an example of one Growth Area municipality struggling under the financial burden of infinite population growth. Other growth corridors are also in stress.
Cardinia Shire is a largely rural municipality about 60 km from Melbourne. A government designated corridor of population growth and housing construction has been absorbing rapid population increase since 2003. The population is predicted to double over the next 10 years. Current Council records indicate that five families per day are moving into the corridor.
The council’s annual budget document and four year plan states that its greatest challenge is “managing population growth”. More administrative staff are required so the Council must move to expensive new premises in Officer. Increased financial responsibility has been placed on local government but despite an ongoing debt level of almost $50 million and increasing the annual rates each year over the past 10 years, there is still a major lack of infrastructure and services to meet the needs of the continuous high population growth coming into the growth corridor of the municipality. The infrastructure shortfall includes public transport, roads and schools for which State government is responsible. Ratepayers are virtually being taxed via Council rates, and a further increase to 6.8% this year will be a financial burden for a lot of property owners.
Huge residential and commercial development is impacting on former good quality agricultural land, sensitive environmental landscapes and waterways.
Traffic congestion is increasing, particularly on local roads not built to cope with the current volume flowing off the freeway. During morning and evening peak times traffic is at gridlock.
There is growing evidence of social disadvantage, a local welfare support agency is dealing with constant requests for assistance with food supplies, financial counselling etc. There has been an increase in antisocial behaviour, graffiti, and more serious instances of assault, burglaries and trades area break-ins. Local police are at their limit keeping up with the level of crime.
If this is the end result of government policies of high population economic growth and increased productivity, where are the supposed benefits? This is just one example of a growth area in one State of Australia. How many others are encountering similar problems?
Encouraging people to move out to Melbourne’s fringe areas, creating car dependent and socially disadvantaged communities where there is inadequate local employment and insufficient infrastructure is just not working.
Australian people urgently need a referendum on the need to limit the annual population intake via immigration, rather than on the merits of including local government in the Australian Constitution. Let’s get the priorities right. G. Terria (Fugitive from the Growth Corridor)/em>
Editorial comment: G. Terria, your suggestion that we need to hold an annual referendum is excellent. Elections such as the forthcoming Federal elections can be used as a referendum of sorts. You can vote for candidates opposed to population growth . Two such candidates are Jill Quirk and William Bourke, who are standing for the Stable Population Party in the Senate n Victoria. You could distribute your Senate preferences according to how other candidates measure up on population and other issues of concern. Ask all candidates standing for your Lower House seat what are his/her policy towards population and immigration and vote and allocate your preferences accordingly.