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Victoria: Urban Boundaries Expansion is another name for Lebensraum

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Submission by Jill Quirk, headlines and teaser by Admin, candobetter

Growth is discretionary but the Government doesn't want Victorians to realise this

We have just learned from a newly issued State Government report that building on the outer urban fringes -taking into consideration the infrastructure needs for making new suburbs from scratch- costs more than twice as much as building within established areas.

The hackneyed arguments about urban sprawl vs. urban densification are usually presented and reported as either forced choices or choices of the most suitable recipe of proportions of one or the other.

What is rarely questioned is the actual need to have the rate of population growth that forces these dilemmas on us.

The State Government and planning authorities as well as developers and all those who lobby for higher population growth must be well aware of the extent to which the level of population growth in Victoria is discretionary. These aforementioned must also be well aware that logically, growth at the present rate or indeed at any rate is not possible into the indefinite future. is a Government website to drive population growth upwards

Even without the State Government recklessly inviting people from overseas and interstate to join us in our water depleted state e.g. via the website, Victoria would still experience population growth- but at a far more manageable level- roughly 30-40,000 per annum as opposed to the present nearer 100,000 p.a. increase . Eventually with a balanced level of incomings and outgoings and our natural birth and death rate , Victoria's population would level off in the next 40 odd years.

Victoria now in ecological overshoot

Victoria is now in ecological overshoot-as clearly demonstrated by the need to industrialise our water supply with a desalination plant and by the parlous state of our environment as described in the State of the Environment report 2008.

That is why we need to stabilise and then allow natural attrition

This is why Victoria, for a secure future needs to look towards stabilising its population in future decades. As long as our population increases, our environment will be in decline. The present scenario of high population growth guarantees a poorer existence for future citizens than that of present citizens just as the present residents are poorer than those of 40 years ago when the environment was in much better shape and we had adequate water supplies.

As Victoria is in overshoot in 2009, imagine what it will be like in 10 years with 1 million more people,many of them living on the Melbourne outer fringe in large poorly designed houses on small blocks of land with few transport options. 10 years from now, more of our agricultural land close to the city will be either built on or earmarked for development. At the same time we will be further down the one way road towards oil depletion which will adversley affect car travel economy, agricultural output and transport of goods.

In ten years people on the outer edges will be much closer to the edges of survival - food, water, petrol

The people of Melbourne especially those in the suburbs of the urban fringes will be much closer to the edges of survival. Their lives will be more difficult as they struggle to find economical transport and their opportunities for self sufficiency in a climate of rising food prices will be limited by lack of land and time.

These are all arguments against a mindset of continual population growth and expansion of our city which has so many unwanted consequences right now for the bulk the population.

Higher urban density not the answer; we are already going upwards and outwards

The alternative to extending the urban growth boundary given continued population growth is the densification of the established parts of the city which the State Government report says is the cheaper option for accommodating population growth. Unfortunately, at a massive 2% socially engineered p.a growth rate, we will get both more urban sprawl and urban densification . Urban densification has distinctly negative consequences for affected residents- overcrowding , uncertainty of what will be built next and where, loss of natural light in houses, loss of gardens and of open space and increased traffic. Eventually everyone will be adversely affected except those with enormous property buffers within the city i.e the very rich.

Apart from major conservation and wildlife considerations on which other organisations will be making separate submissions especially as extension of UGB affects the Green Wedges, the proposal to extend the UGB totally lacks vision and any will to make a different future in the interests of Victoria's citizens.

The Victorian Government should totally revise its modis operandi with regard to its own part in population growth in Victoria and work towards a sustainable future with first a future stable population and then inevitably a smaller one after mid century. This kind of foresight is needed if we are to have a future and not ecological collapse.

Jill Quirk

(Submission by Jill Quirk, on behalf of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) Victorian Branch)
If you want to contact Jill, send her a message to


See also on the financial cost alone:Jason Dowling and Clay Lucas, "Suburban sprawl costs billions more," The Age, July 17, 2009

"PLANS to build thousands of homes on Melbourne's fringes will cost Victorians around $40 billion more than if they were built in existing suburbs, a new State Government report shows.

In an embarrassment for the Government on the day that submissions close on its plans to further expand Melbourne's urban growth boundary, the report released on Wednesday shows the total cost of building homes in new outer suburbs is more than double that of building in existing areas.[...]"

Ed. But don't believe that writing to the Age will save you or even that the Age owners care - the Fairfax Press and the Murdoch Press would be backing this growth to the hilt, since they have corporate investments in property development and its marketing throughout the world, as indicated by, for instance, and


If building of thousands homes on Melbourne's fringes will cost Victorians around $40 billion more than if they were built in existing suburbs, why is it being justified except for a grab at short term gains at the expense of long term sustainability? Eventually if we destroy the ecology that supports our livelihoods, and compromise and stretch natural our biodiversity "services" beyond the point of no return, costs of compensating and repairing will soar! There is no economic sense in utilising our green wedges, our coastlines, our semi-rural fringe areas for housing developments if our wealth depends on continual population growth. Peak oil, lack of water and food-miles means that "sustainable growth" is an oxymoron!
Developing existing suburbs is not always desirable or feasible.

There is not one problem our society can solve by adding more people! On the contrary, urban growth and the growth lobby's political power will ensure that we the public will continue to have our pockets raided to pay for the necessary infrastructure to satisfy the greed of the developers, the media, real estate and building industries. The cost of repairing Victoria's ultimate eco-destruction will be massive, and maybe impossible!