Jason Dowling and Clay Lucas' article in The Age (17/7/2009) 'Suburban sprawl costs billions more', presents the problems of population growth as creating urban sprawl that will cost $40 billion. It then highlighting as a "solution", the idea that the density of the existing suburbs should be increased so Victoria can save itself $40 billion. At no point is current population policy questioned or examined. It is simply accepted that population growth will be unstoppable. The article purpose appears to justify the need for increasing density as a "cheaper" solution for Melbourne's growth crisis, without of course calculating the cost, both direct economic cost and the loss of amenity for people already living in Melbourne.
A series of academics are quoted bemoaning the cost of building new suburbs, all of them universally recommending to
"Redirect development from Melbourne's fringe into established suburbs."
As usual the Property Council wants it both ways. In one part of the article it says:
"[The Government] doesn't want to take on the outer-urban property industry."
Once again Property Council - a band of property speculators - accorded guru status by press
Presumably the academic means the Property Council. It then quotes the chief executive of the Property Council Jennifer Cunich
"Anecdotal evidence to us tells that infill development is quite difficult to achieve."
Which I take to mean that it is cheaper for the Property Council members to develop new suburbs, then Cunich says:
"While Melbourne's urban growth boundary should be expanded to accommodate the city's booming population, development in existing suburbs should also be made easier."
So the Property councils wants more growth beyond Melbourne's urban growth boundary and reducing of restrictions for development in existing suburbs, what a surprise!
A sad state of affairs when the only 'serious' newspaper ...
It's a sad state of affairs when the only serious broadsheet newspaper in Victoria is unable to examine such a significant issue beyond one dimension. The article conveys population growth as being inevitable and beyond question. There is no fostering of debate on the issue, only it's consequences in a way that presents the reader with 2 options, one of which has a cost (suburban sprawl) and the other with only benefits (densification of existing suburbs). The problem here is growth per se. Paving over backyards and building multi-story towers is not a solution to a future of climate change, peak oil and water shortages. Building new suburbs is also not a solution to those problems. Stopping growth is the solution, the sooner it is done the more sustainable the future will be for the citizens of Melbourne.