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Video: Mark Allen, planner: Fast population growth and poor planning - a vicious circle

“So, increasing the population – fast population growth and poor planning – they’re like a vicious circle. When I worked as a planner, I’d go to VCAT and, quite often, development applications would be turned down by councils and the developer’s argument would be, ‘I know, ideally, this isn’t the best place to build this development, but you do know that Melbourne’s population is going to double by 2040-something and so, therefore, we’ve got to start building high-density in areas where we wouldn’t normally build it, because, you know, unless we’re just going to sprawl outwards forever…’. But both are going to happen, so we’ve got to understand that rapid population growth and developers who are making sure that they’re taking control of the planning system - they’re intertwined.” Mark Allen, former planner, of Population, Permaculture and Planning in a speech at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne, 14 February 2016.

Mark Allen of Population Permaculture and Planning asks: Is it possible to accommodate a growing population without unacceptably high density living and urban sprawl? If so, what rate of population growth should we be looking at and what types of community should we be creating? This workshop discusses the merits of village style living in combination with permaculture principles and asks the question, where do we go from here?

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The attacks on hospitals and schools in Syria ("Missiles hit hospitals in Syria", 17/2) are indeed war crimes. But we do not need to be conspiracy theorists to be reminded of the many false flag operations of recent history. Apart from questions of evidence – and so far we've had only predictable finger-pointing – it's wise to ask the old question: who benefits? It's difficult to believe that the forces reportedly now regaining lost territory, the Syrian regime and its allies, would expect any benefit from such actions. Opposition forces, however, facing potential defeat might have much to gain by encouraging "humanitarian intervention" by their Western and regional supporters.

The actions seem intended to doom the current negotiations for a ceasefire, let alone peace, long before any conceivable resolution. It's time Australia reconsidered its choice of allies in a conflict that is obviously not "civil" but rather a disastrous chapter in a new Cold War.

Keith Wiltshire, Carlton