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Residents' Bill of Rights (RBR) - Support this brilliant initiative

At the Planning Backlash and Boroondara Residents Action Group "Mad as Hell event" in Camberwell on Sunday 29th May, 2016, BRAG introduced the following draft Resident's Rights Bill. To indicate your support please email drostmary[AT]gmail.com. Among other things it calls for the setting of population growth targets within OECD averages. It thus nails a continuing problem of the moving target in previous population policy claims. Australia lacks a civil rights code, unlike Europe. Our civil rights used to be implicit in our publicly owned resources and services, like water, Telecom, and power. This draft Residents' Bill of Rights is truly impressive in its ability to identify gaps in Australian residents' rights.

Residents' Bill of Rights

We, the current residents of Melbourne, country and coastal areas of Victoria, call on the government and opposition at all levels to act to protect our homes, communities and cities from over-development.

WE REJECT:

  • The current trend of excessive population growth through the ever increasing levels of immigration.
  • The excessive influence of vested interests and lobby groups upon residential planning and government decision making.
  • The increasing densification of residential areas and the consequent impact on our infrastructure without commensurate infrastructure upgrades at all levels.
  • The continual changes to planning law and regulations that provides no certainty for the peaceful enjoyment of our neighbourhoods by the current and future residents.
  • The continual urban sprawl into Melbourne’s green fringe and farming land.

We DEMAND:

• Population growth targets to be limited to sustainable levels based on OECD averages which is currently around 0.63%. (Australia’s rate of growth is currently around 1.7% ).

• Infrastructure be upgraded to meet current needs and kept ahead of requirements to meet our cities population growth requirements.

• A bipartisan planning environment that provides certainty and protects residential areas against densification in any form.

• Councils to be the sole “responsible Authority” for issuing planning permits and building permits.

• VCAT’s role to be confined to resolution of legal planning disputes and ensuring that lawful planning regulations are met.

• FIRB rules and penalties designed and strictly applied to prevent destruction of existing housing stock and neighbourhood character by foreign nationals.

• Expansion and development of regional cities and associated infrastructure to support population growth and lifestyle quality.

• Developer donations be deemed illegal with mandatory disqualification, forfeiture, or dismissal from or of any current or future development.

• Protection of current open space and tree canopy with requirement to retain or replace vegetation on all new or redevelopment sites.

• Government, at all levels, legally required to assess and protect the interests of residents ahead of developers’ interests.

• All planning committees and reference groups must have at reasonable resident representation.

• Legislate to ensure permits can be refused where a poll of residents/owners living within 300m radius of the proposed development indicates objection by the majority of existing residents/owners.

• A national uniform code be developed to define minimum dwelling size, minimum open space per bedroom and maximum occupancy limits.

• Enforceable minimum Victorian building standards regulations administered by an independent authority.

• Any breach of a planning permit or building standards should result in a prosecution by the relevant authority or the State or local Government to ensure proper rectification

• Developers to meet infrastructure costs necessary for new developments including drainage, sewage, water supply, telecommunications, gas and electricity.

• Developers to be required to contribute to a general community/Council infrastructure fund, , based on number of bedrooms or estimated improved value of the property.

• Neighbourhood character, architecture and heritage requirements to be met by every new residential development.

• Establishment and enforcement of resident and visitor car parking standards, for new multi-dwelling developments, at the rate of 0.75 spaces per bedroom, for residents and 0.25 spaces for visitors.

• Character protection for heritage and traditional local shopping strips.

Published & authorized by PLANNING BACKLASH, on behalf of it’s 250
supporting residents' groups in Melbourne, country & coastal areas.
PO Box 1034 Camberwell, Vic. 3124

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Comments

Strange how well the commentators, especially Hon David Davies, slipped through answering any questions on population growth! The Elephant in the Room again was silent, and invisible. The problem of how to shuffle millions more people into Melbourne was discussed, but there was little being done to address the obvious - why are these people pouring into our city when it's full! Immigration is a Federal government policy, and we *can't* do anything about it- according to our Shadow Planning Minister!

He would not promise that property developers would be banned from giving political donations. It makes far too much money for our State, but the way our short-term political parties operate, governments rejoice in "growth" but pass the costs onto the next governments - and they in turn depend on more people to pay for infrastructure! It's an addiction cycle that nobody really wants to break - except for the victims.

Of course the residents are concerned about having their local areas trashed by over-development and money-spinners coming in and reducing their living and building standards. Where should all the millions be stacked? In outer suburbs, already in overdraft! Nobody wants more skyscrapers and certainly not in family-friendly suburbs. The point must be made that Melbourne can't cope with 8 million people if already our systems are overloaded. The solution is not likely to be found in supporting the Victorian Liberal Party, despite their thin assurances that they support residences' concerns.
The Australian First party were handing out leaflets, but they were asked to leave! It was not a "political" event, but surely it is! High immigration, and housing growth, is a political policy that can only be changed politically. Australian First would end the Immigration Department and end immigration. Surely that's want's needed - without beating around PC!

That may be so, but - thankfully - the draft Resident's Rights Bill proposes, under 'Demands': that • Population growth targets to be limited to sustainable levels based on OECD averages which is currently around 0.63%. (Australia’s rate of growth is currently around 1.7% ).

Hard to better that; simple, just, appropriate and specific.

The main reason why we have a high rate of migration into this country is because it is a symptom of the pursuit of a single ideology, that of neo-liberalism. Despite the fact that we are facing a climate emergency and the gap between the one percent and the ninety nine percent is widening by the day, our political masters nevertheless continue to put their foot down on the accelerator and take us further to the cliff edge. Therefore if we want to really to tackle the underlying issues and not just the symptoms, we need to change the paradigm to one that values critical thinking and is not about adhering to a single narrative at all costs. Therefore to consider voting for Australia First because they promise to slow immigration would be counterproductive, you are simply replacing one ideology with another and that will lead to all kinds of injustice. It is much like swallowing the spider to catch the fly. If we want to slow our rapid rate of population we need to get our democracy back and to vote for parties that understand this and not replace one form of extremism with another.

I couldn't agree with you more Mark! I find neoliberalism the most pervasive of ideologies yet it is little understood by the community at large. In that context it's similar to climate change, the enormity of problem is, like an iceberg, hidden from public awareness. We, as you say, we need to change the paradigm and precipitate urgent action in both arenas if we want to live in the world we are accustomed to currently. The former rules that most people will struggle to survive in a vastly different economic climate. Extreme neoliberalism will enforce something that resembles a modern day feudalistic existence on the community while the latter will drive people from their homelands and seriously affect our ability to survive. According to my calculations to the end of 2015 we are 1.4 degrees Celsius above the long term average, for the first 5 months of 2016 that figure is 2.6 degrees!

The post by "Population Overload" closes with a mention that “Australian First would end the Immigration Department and end immigration. Surely that's want's needed - without beating around PC!”

An objective reader would accept this to mean that Australia First would discontinue
with the entire immigration programme.

Population Overload hits the nail on the head , not only in the need to close down immigration, but also for rejection of PC, an outlook perhaps for the inherently timid who might be in fear of bone pointing.

The reply post to Population Overload from Mark Allen re replacing dogmas etc is a case in point whereby the Australia First position of closing down the programme is misrepresented as just a “ promise to slow immigration". Further jargon about critical thinking, cliff edges, catching of flies, extremism, and voting for parties that understand compliments this misrepresentation.

Objective research abounds that immigration is past use by date for Australia - Australia First is for ENDING THE IMMIGRATION PROGRAMME.

I think the Bill of Rights is a brilliant initiative and a lot of thought has obviously gone into it. I agree with the vast majority of it. The only point that I take issue with is the demand that:
"A bipartisan planning environment that provides certainty and protects residential areas against densification in any form."

I think that this will be unworkable and not necessarily the best outcome. I am a strong advocate of increasing housing diversity in the middle suburbs (and to a much lesser degree in the inner suburbs) but not by a large amount.

Herein lies the problem. How do we design a planning system that allows for a moderate increase in semi detached development and co-housing affordable housing schemes without allowing entire streets to be wiped off the face of the earth and replaced with higher density?

I think that ideally some densification would be allowed on the grounds that it is undertaken by an affordable housing cooperative or a local government authority possibly in partnership with the private sector.

That way there would be much greater consultation with local residents etc. The cooperatives would only focus on buying up housing stock that was deemed unfit for retrofitting and there would be strong urban design guidelines as well as much public consultation.

Of course these proposals are all very radical and so they should be when you look at what we are up against but there is a fundamental issue that we all need to face here and that is that we have to move away from a neo -liberal economy to a steady state one.

Otherwise slowing down population growth and the construction industry will cause an economic crash, and it is this scare campaign that will be used to persuade the public to keep this ponzi scheme on the road even if it means that the long term outcome will be much more bleak. The sad thing is that most people only think in the short term (which is obvious from our pathetic response to climate change). In short we need a revolution and it may as well start here.