Committee for Melbourne growthers are scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for new ways to get people to move to the hated high-rises the property development lobby has planned all over Melbourne. Mary Drost says, "Both Andrew McLeod and Bernard Salt are obsessed with growth. It is exactly this growth that is making Melbourne less liveable as everything is overstretched." Jill Quirk asks, "I wonder if Salt and MacLeod think widows Jeannie Pratt or Elisabeth Murdoch should vacate their premises for a flat in an "activity centre" or is just people who inhabit more modest post war triple fronted accommodation who are being asked to move over ?"
Committee for Melbourne
A group with an apparent interest in land speculation, with the dignified sounding name of The Committee for Melbourne, is pushing a crude barrow to get elderly people to give up their homes. It wants them to agree to be rehoused in high-density apartment blocks and thinks that if the State government lets them pay less stamp duty, they just might be tempted. This was the subject today of an article by John Masanauskas in the Herald Sun, "Lobby group calls for older couples to give up family homes," 17 February 2011.
It is probably not coincidence that, at the same time, Boroondara Council is trying to force 48 so-called "activity centres" (i.e. high rise developments) on its protesting residents. In a hangover from the Brumby government's human sardine policy, the council hopes to attract some of an additional 17,600 people that a few business hopefuls have promoted as likely to arrive over the next 16 years, based on shaky statistical projections.
Bernard Salt, the well-known KPMG spruiker for population growth and megacities, and the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne, Andrew McLeod, have managed to leave some unfortunate quotes for posterity.
Weird, no fun world of statistical cohorts
Herald Sun writer, John Masanauskas, gives the impression that Salt believes that middle Melbourne (whatever that is) is fraught with the probability that "dad's going to drop dead and mum's going to be living by herself in a three-bedroom home". Salt predicts that the iconic 'mum' will eventually "find that the three-bedroom home with a garden and lawn becomes too much for her and she will therefore want to downsize."
In Salt's world, like Brumby and Bracks's macho-small-minded worlds, all women are 'mums' if they aren't girls trying to overcome a 'man drought' [catch his latest book], and all men are 'dads'. One senses that they are doomed, like cabbage moths, to fly and mate, lay their eggs, then die. Some, however, live on past their use-by date and become 'empty nesters', as CEO, Andrew McLeod calls them, opining:
"If they are an empty-nester living near a school they are actually taking a role that from a society's perspective would be better taken by a family."
You get the picture. According to this kind of view, societies and their suburbs should be reorganised into age cohorts. None of this bowls club down the end of the street and the little old lady in the corner shop, or the old man sitting on his porch in the sun, surveying his tomato patch, and the children visiting the lady over the road to climb her mulberry tree and use her grown-up daughter's books and toys, while their mother heads down for a game of tennis and their father takes the dog for a long walk up to the top of the hill to watch the sun set over the bay.
Salt and McLeod seem to have an odd and naively statistical view of societies, where people are labelled according to some of their qualities, like cards in packs, and are okay about being moved around in a kind of Lego world on the whim of some boys who never quite got over playing Monopoly.
Jill Quirk, SPA Victoria
Jill Quirk, President of Sustainable Population Victoria, comments:
"I think the rhetoric from Bernard Salt and Andrew Macleod that widows and "empty nesters" should leave their homes" and move into apartments for the convenience of others who would like to buy their houses is opportunistic , sexist, vulture-like, devoid of compassion or understanding, and the language of Grandpa and Grandma and (quote Bernard Salt) "rattling around in their veneers" is belittling to ordinary people.
"I wonder what the adult children of these targets of the hovering developers and real estate agents think of this blackmail? I also wonder if Salt and MacLeod think widows Jeannie Pratt or Elisabeth Murdoch should vacate their premises for a flat in an "activity centre" or is just people who inhabit more modest post war triple fronted accommodation who are being asked to move over ?"
"Behind the figure of ridicule, the widow, whose husband has "dropped dead" is a person in shock, in grief and who is making a huge adjustment to a major life-change.
Importantly, she perceives,
"The widow is extremely vulnerable and could well fall prey to the kind of persuasion and pressure that Macleod and Salt seem to want to institutionalise so that everyone these people meet will echo the same refrain. 'Don't rattle around in the veneer, it is your civic duty to move out of your house now and let a young family with children at Lauriston and Camberwell Grammar move in.'"
And then she asks an interesting question:
"I wonder what Barry Humphries might say about this. He ridiculed the Australian suburban lifestyle for decades but I don't think he ever seriously thought of disrupting it and breaking it down."
What next? Will Mr McLeod and Mr Salt be investing in cemeteries and urging everyone to buy vertical plots in order to squeeze more coffins in? With the baby boomer curve on course to crash over the next 20 years, it's a sure thing.
Mary Drost of Planning Backlash
Planning Backlash is the name of an umbrella group under which many different suburban groups gather to protect the rights of citizens whose environments and properties are threatened by intensification of development and the population growth that drives this. Mary Drost is their main spokesperson.
Mary says that all of Melbourne will be affected by this population growth and overdevelopment if the Boroondara Council gets away with it, and that the local people are furious that Booroondara Council is continuing a densification plan dating from when Justin Madden was Planning Minister under the Brumby government, which lost power in the last election. Densification will wreck the area, she says, and Planning Backlash is appealing to their State Member, Ted Baillieu, for help based on promises he made before the election.
Mary is actually pictured in John Masanauskas's article in a photo by Ben Swinnerton (which I have cropped above), leaning, smiling, over a picket fence, with a large sunny garden behind her.
"Both Andrew McLeod and Bernard Salt are obsessed with growth. It is exactly this growth that is making Melbourne less liveable as everything is overstretched. Their obsession is taking them to new boundaries, now they want the older people to get out of their houses to make way for the next generation. Maybe they want to euthanase us as well. I am not going to be stuck in a dog box to keep McLeod and Salt happy!"
She adds, "They would have done well at the time of the Russian Revolution, move the mobs into the big houses and let the owners live in one room. How would the grandmothers look after their grandchildren in dog boxes? What a nerve!"
As her own lifestyle shows, everyone is not a poor old used up mum or a dad pining away without purpose. For years, in a tradition starting with her mother, young couples have been living rent-free in a little flat that Mary's husband and she had made at the side of the house. In this way they "get a start in life." In return they help where they can.
"People usually stay about three years and then get their own place, after they have saved a deposit," Mary said. "Sometimes our guests have been young couples who were relatives."
At the moment, she is sharing her house with one couple, who "came back for a while." In the flat on the property there is a second couple.
She thinks and I think that this is a good way to use property. But it's not what Salt and McLeod would want, because their objective is to increase property turnover. Their guiding principle is commercial, not social.
Mary says that her brother and his wife, who have grandchildren, could not do without a big house, as they are "forever having children coming to stay and the families come home for dinner sometimes twice a week."
"What nonsense to say that we should all be moving into dog boxes," Mary exclaims. "Some no doubt want to, but I tell you this, it is the quickest way to give up and age and die. If you want to stay young then stay active. Don't forget that the government wants people to age in place and not go into nursing homes. The Dutch do this very well Australia should learn from them."
Mr Salt's residence
Ironically, Bernard Salt, who looks to be over sixty in his photographs, actually lives in a heritage house a couple of blocks from Mary. We googled the address we were given and provide a picture above. We have removed the name of the street from the picture. Candobetter.net doesn't believe in exposing peoples' addresses unnecessarily, but it does seem on the face of it that Mr Salt talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk, and it is of interest to those dealing with the impacts of his marketing to see where he is actually coming from.
Since her photo and some comments appeared in Masanauskas's article, a number of people have looked Mary up in the phone book and have called her, agreeing strongly with her defense of her right to remain in her home.
 After an unsolicited comment which complained about this exposure of Mr Salt, we canvassed our editors and writers who all agreed that it was relevant to show how Mr Salt lived. It was felt however that the important thing was to convey how he lived, which should include the suburb (of which it seemed typical, and which was the same suburb as Mary Drost's), but not necessarily the street. Therefore we have reduced the information on the photo. Discussion welcome.
Fri, 2011-02-18 05:25
Love the pic 'Hot Plots' - Yes, Say NO! To Hi-Rise Rat Holes!!!
Fri, 2011-02-18 11:01
What's in it for the widow?
nimby (not verified)
Fri, 2011-02-18 12:57
Kevin Rudd's new "holiday"house
Anonymous (not verified)
Fri, 2011-02-18 13:28
Bernard Salt is greedy and must subdivide
Fri, 2011-02-18 14:31
Older suburbs are an insurance against over-development
Milly O (not verified)
Fri, 2011-02-18 17:23
The idea of older people being lured to give up their homes, their lifestyles, their property, for the benefit of those wanting the convenience of living near schools etc covers the real reason - profits! While Andrew MacLeod and the Committee of Melbourne ostensibly are interested in community welfare, they are really interested in profits from the property market.
Many older families have adult students and children living at home now, due to being displaced - refugees - in their own city. How are young people supposed to ransom their lives, their futures, for half a million dollars to buy a home? How are families meant to live in apartments?
Those pushing for growth, for the "benefit" of accommodating people, are themselves feathering their own nests, but expect the rest of us to make altruistic sacrifices!
We already have a new suburb in Melbourne - Fisherman's Bend. We can't keep opening new suburbs, or keep sprawling out and rising higher in the skyline! Humans are intent on eco-suicide? With so many uncertainties this century, such as peak oil, energy melt-down, climate change, erratic weather, world food scarcity, why are we depending on population growth and property development for our economic survival?
Andrew MacLeod (not verified)
Tue, 2011-02-22 07:37
Committee of Melbourne on call for Pratt & Murdoch to downsize
Subject was: downsizing - Ed.
I think it is unfair of the authors of this blog (and the H-S) to misrepresent a policy position and to needless scare older Australians.
The idea of Committee for Melbourne is NOT to force anyone anywhere. Indeed we suggest the application of a policy currently operating well in Canberra and apply it to Melbourne.
What is the policy?
To give stamp duty relief to those who CHOOSE to downsize. When my grandmother CHOSE to move from home to an aged care facility she was whacked the full lot of stamp duty. Surely, if someone chooses to move to an area that has better infrastructure for her needs (aged care). [Completion of sentence missing - Ed.]
This idea is about removing disincentives for people who chose to downsize.
Also, Committee for Melbourne is NOT 'promoting faster growth'. We are indeed encouraging SLOWER growth.
We had a population growth spike of 2.2% in 2009. Melbourne's 50 year growth average is 1.65%. Committee for Melbourne's estimation - to plan for needed infrastructure - is to decrease (that is right DECREASE) that to 1.4% pa.
If you people treat people who agree with you, like you are treating me, then ask yourself how you will achieve your goals.
#comment-6070">Mary Drost knows all of the above. I don't quite understand why she doesn't listen to it.
See also: comment of 20 Mar 2011, Committee for Melbourne CEO wants to debate and discuss. - Editor
Tue, 2011-02-22 10:54
Population stability to solution to housing affordability
Andrew MacLeod (not verified)
Mon, 2011-03-21 22:09
Committee for Melbourne on Population growth
Subject was: Population growth
The Committee for Melbourne is not planning for increasing growth. We are planning for slowing growth not expanding growth. Here are the facts:
• The recent spike of population growth is 2.2%
• The State government and opposition both support 1.7%
• The 50 year average is 1.65%
• The Federal politicians are talking 1.5%.
CfM is not promoting growth. But we do guess where our population will be and plan our infrastructure for that population so that we remain economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
We believe that the greatest threat is unplanned future sprawl and congestion. To plan for the future and avoid sprawl and congestion you need a best guess at where population will be.... it may not be where you WANT it to be, but you need to guess where it will PROBABLY be.
We estimate a #only1point4" id="only1point4">1.4% #1point4percent">growth – slower than all of the above rates - ie CfM is estimating SLOWER growth.
Yet we get abuse.
Ask yourself is it good for democracy to abuse those who do not hold EXACTLY the same opinion as you do?
We get labelled as ‘big growth big business’ even when a lot of our members are not for profit community groups, educational institutions and the like.
We actually are starting to find that your site likes to hear only from people who agree entirely with everyone else, as disagreement is abused and howled down. (Please see my comment here. - Ed.)
Many on your site have labelled me a ‘big business fat cat’. Why make personal attacks when one look at my profile shows that this is far from the truth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_MacLeod. Since when is an aid worker a fat cat?
I am interested in debate, if people are interested in hearing a diversity of views. I am happy to meet anywhere anytime if people are interested in genuine dialogue.
nimby (not verified)
Tue, 2011-03-22 09:25
Humans don't understand the dynamics of growth
Tue, 2011-03-22 15:18
CfM re pop growth - response from Sheila N
Mary (not verified)
Tue, 2011-02-22 13:21
Limits to growth are natural
A decrease in population growth rate is NOT a decrease in population. It's a decrease from the boosted rate of 2.2% in 2009, due to Kevin Rudd's "big Australia" push. In their first year, newborn babies grow a big way, with most tripling their birth weight and increasing their length by about 50%. However, this rate cannot continue. There are limits to growth. Bigger is not necessarily better.
No species, or natural community, can continue growing indefinitely. Growth is only one stage of a life-cycle. Melbourne may have grown fast in the past, doubling in 50 years, but - like living vertebrates - the bone structure (infrastructure) would fail ultimately, and shorten lifetimes.
Editor's comment: 'Mary', who wrote this response to Andrew McLeod and the Committee of Melbourne, is not the 'Mary Drost' referred to in the article by Sheila Newman and by Andrew McLeod. In fact, Mary Drost has asked me to respond to Andrew McLeaod with her words on her behalf and I have done so in another comment. Thanks to both Marys and to others for your insightful responses. - Editor
Tue, 2011-02-22 18:47
Mary Drost responds to Committee of Melbourne, Andrew MacLeod
Mary asked me to post the following on her behalf. - Editor
I want to remind Andrew MacLeod that he says he is planning Melbourne for 8 million people and that I heard him say at a public forum that we have to increase the population otherwise how do we pay for the infrastructure we need. In addition he said as quoted in the Herald Sun that he was "appealing to the MORAL SENSE of emptynesters" to leave. I mean moral sense. So it is a moral issue to quit your house?. Further he says 'they SHOULD be encouraged to downsize for SOCIETY'S SAKE'. Does Andrew MacLeod have the moral sense to realize what effect his words have had on some of the seniors who have been calling me on the phone? How vulnerable it makes them feel?
Andrew MacLeod should realize that we are not a communist state.
Further editorial comment: Mary Drost's words are borne out by the content of the following newspaper article: Call for elderly to give up homes (page 1, page 2, all). See also: Lobby group calls for older couples to give up family homes, Melbourne set for eight million people in 2051, Time for Melbourne to think about its population surge. In the poll incorporated in the the article Melbourne set for eight million people in 2051, 76.79% of respondents or 1019 said No, Melbourne could not handle 8 million people, whilst only 23.21% said Yes, Melbourne could handle 8 million people. The Committee of Melbourne's plans to impose massive population growth on Melbourne is clearly opposed by the overwhelming majority of Melburnians. The majority would be even more overwhelming if so much pro-population growth propaganda were not pushed down our throats by the daily newsmedia, politicians and lobby groups such as the Committee for Melbourne.
Tue, 2011-02-22 23:03
How can population growth reduce unbuilt infrastructure backlog?
Enne K (not verified)
Wed, 2011-02-23 10:54
Addiction to growth a vicious cycle
Infrastructure shortages are hampering the growth of New South Wales, claimed Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell at the Property Council of Australia's (NSW) Great Growth Debate, held last year in Sydney.
O'Farrell said “..it’s easy to use population growth and migration as the cause for Sydney’s infrastructure woes. I would go so far as to say it’s dangerous, when it’s the State Government that has failed to deliver proper infrastructure that communities deserve and need.”
It's the people who vote who need to pay the costs of infrastructure, and public pockets are not a limitless resource.
At the same time, the argument is that we need population growth to grow our economy, to provide the taxpayer base needed to fund our ageing population and to sustain the manufacturing and service industries that our country should have. Simply put, if we want to live in a First World society, with all its benefits, we need more taxpayers to fund it.
We end up with a cyclic, unending argument. We need infrastructure, so we need more immigration to provide the taxes, and inevitably we end up with more "shortages" of infrastructure that in turn means we need more population to pay for it, and the skills to build it all! With all this growth, we end up with more "ageing population" and thus need more young immigrants to compensate.
We are trapped in a myopic cycle of growth, shortages, a need for funds, thus add a few more people, ageing numbers increase, more infrastructure needed and more people! It's a vicious, misanthropic cycle of decline and artificial revival that will lead to a depletion of natural resources that won't end until the growth-lobby and government elite come out of their ivory towers and face the real, and finite, planet.
Editorial comment: Thanks for this insightful response to my comment, Enne K. Still, I think it needs to be pointed out that the "vicious cycle" is largely an illusion conjured up by politicians, the Growth Lobby and the newsmedia to further their own selfish ends at the expense of the majority of people and future generations. Any Government, with the will to serve ordinary people and not wealthy vested interests and which was prepared to apply itself diligently, could break this cycle over a short period of time.
Thu, 2011-02-24 09:15
Growth is not linked to wealth
The conventional economic wisdom is that: "Simply put, if we want to live in a First World society, with all its benefits, we need more taxpayers to fund it."
Economists accept that the stability of developed countries depends on continual economic growth and consumption. However this is clearly not possible on a planet with finite resources. Many contemporary governments believe employment and wealth are created by continuous economic growth and consumption and that these are fundamental to electoral success. Political lifetimes are short, and so is political accountability. Short-term benefits are the key to short-term "successful" policies.
The fundamental problem with this ethos of continual growth and consumption is that it ignores the biological principle that all living systems will grow until limited by the constraints of food and resources. No natural species or natural communities can continually grow! Humans aren't an exception.
In a study: Relationship between Growth and Prosperity in 100 Largest U.S. Metropolitan Areas by Eben Fodor December 2010, the annual population growth rate of each metro area from 2000 to 2009 is used to compare economic well-being in terms of per capita income, unemployment rate, and poverty rate. The study found that faster growth rates are associated with lower incomes, greater income declines, and higher poverty rates.
The 25 slowest-growing metro areas outperformed the 25 fastest growing in every category and averaged $8,455 more in per capita personal income in 2009. The findings raise questions about the efficacy of conventional urban planning and economic development strategies that pursue growth of metro areas to advance the economic welfare of the general public.
Scandinavian countries have small, stable populations. They don't use their mineral wealth for day-to-day expenses: Norway saved its oil bounty, of which roughly half the profits went to the government and was put into their equivalent of a 'future fund'. They are wealthy countries that defy the expansionist mantra we hear so much in Australia.
A stable population would allow a more measured and sustainable use of resources and processes, and thus our future can be planned and so can sustainability.
On the contrary to Make Poverty History, we need to Make Wealth History. Under our current system, there are disastrous job losses whenever the economy goes into recession. It’s an inherently unstable system that is guaranteed to deliver a jobs cull every ten to twelve years, until it eventually runs out of steam altogether. The transition may be rocky, but a steady state should be much more stable in the longer term.
Thu, 2011-02-24 09:52
Wed, 2011-02-23 23:34
Problems and coercion due to growth
Andrew MacLeod (not verified)
Mon, 2011-03-21 21:51
Mary - that is unfair
Tue, 2011-03-22 14:21
Mary Drost and Commitee for Melbourne
Andrew MacLeod (not verified)
Mon, 2011-03-21 21:54
Tue, 2011-03-22 16:36
How irresponsible - reply from Sheila N
Wed, 2011-03-23 14:47
Bernard Salt and Boroondara
Thu, 2011-03-24 09:01
Fair Dinkum Res... (not verified)
Tue, 2011-10-04 22:06
Shameless propaganda from Brown and Hartwich of CIS
Angry Emu (not verified)
Sun, 2011-10-09 00:36
SBS promotes CIS-Hartwich propaganda too
nimby (not verified)
Sun, 2011-10-09 09:13
Ponzi economic strangles our progress