Entitled, "Growing Regional Victoria," the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pushing yet more growth in infrastructure and housing on regional Victoria, with the accompanying short-term jobs and destruction of environment, space, and biodiversity. Anyone travelling through regional Victoria (and almost any Australian state) will notice the drab housing estates with their ever meaner lots and devegetated surrounds, wedging miscellaneous drifts of precarious humans desperate for accommodation
Liberal or Labor
It's urban sprawl
Labor or Liberal
Its build up tall
Whoever you vote for
in this state election,
Liberal or Labor
There' ll be no correction
It's grow til we die
It's build them up high
It's fill up the country
And to hell with the sky
Build them tall and urban sprawl: the growth-lobby's blueprint for Melbourne or any other city in Australia
The public meeting yesterday in Cooroy achieved a greater public awareness of the alarming flaws within the intended Cooloola National Park development program, as well as an understanding of the distinct steps needed to address those flaws.
Presentations to the meeting demonstrated:
[Candobetter Editor: Sorry this report is being published very late, although it arrived on time.] In this issue: Federal Election 2022 - Climate Change, Corruption, Women, Young People; Australian Heritage Advocacy Advice; Royal Historical Society of Victoria Heritage Protection action; Urban consolidation and Housing Affordability; Good News at Kilmore; Wattle Park/The Effect of Night Lighting on Birds; Boroondara proposed Cycleway; VCAT Decision - Baker v.
You never know what you've got until it's gone. Key points: Excavation from the Riversdale Rd stone tram shelter for cycle route; adverse impact on many trees; 22 6.5m tall light poles with grids atop; 450 trees threatened; existing playground & picnic area for replacement with larger cluttered built area; overall loss of what makes us love Wattle Park. Details inside:
Submission to 2021 Heritage and Planning Protection Review
The Queen Victoria Market (QVM) is listed as a significant place on the State and National heritage listings. The Queen Victoria Market is of cultural significance for its ongoing role and continued popularity as a general and fresh meat and vegetable market, shopping and meeting place for Victorians and visitors alike.
This is sad and disturbing to watch in the neighbourhood, in Fawkner Park … The extensive works and removal of greenspace and trees, dissects the park, construction there is a bad precedent and contrary to the beloved greenspace views and vistas characteristic of this (previously) grass-based parkland. the construction workers said they are going to concrete “the court and skate park” on Monday. (B.
Hi to you all, and particularly to those of you who I do not know. As you will have heard from Mary, I have agreed to take over as Convenor from Mary Drost OAM. In 2005 Mary established Planning Backlash as an umbrella organisation and coalition of community and resident action groups.
"I am highly concerned that residents’ rights are being eroded progressively and quietly by the State government through these Planning Reforms under the veil and distraction of a COVID emergency." (Kate Hely, Mayor of Stonnington.) The Toorak Residents' Group emailed the Malvern East Group material including the comments below, which are from the Mayor of Stonnington, Kate Hely, who, with a number of Mayors, had asked for a meeting with Minister Wynne to discuss the recent Planning Scheme Amendments. Minister Wynne chose not to meet with them. He sent one of his staff instead and the Mayors were NOT pleased. It is thought that he won't meet with the MAV either and that organisation is not pleased either. Mr. Wynne's disdain for local communities is well known.
"The State is looking to introduce a new Planning Reform that could lead to further removal of the community’s ability to shape local planning decisions; reforms that could remove your ability to meaningfully object to a development next door or down the road; and that could ignore the desire of our communities and the commitment of our councils to build neighbourhoods to be proud of.
I am highly concerned that residents’ rights are being eroded progressively and quietly by the State government through these Planning Reforms under the veil and distraction of a COVID emergency."
I recently led a group of 10 metro mayors who together represented 1.4 million people and 12,000 planning decisions a year to politely discuss our concerns about potential reforms with the Minister for Planning, and yet we were only deemed worthy of meeting his advisor.
We overtly asked to be involved in forming reform decisions but were essentially dismissed.
This week I heard that the President of the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria - the peak body for all 79 Victorian councils) had not even been able to get a meeting with the Minister to discuss the concerns of our sector. So councils have been proactively trying to cooperate and work with the State on these reforms, and yet the door remains shut to us.
Compounding this sense of alarm, Council officers have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements with DWELP (The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - which is the State Government department in charge of planning) such that they cannot share information about the proposed Planning Reforms with the community elected councillors.
….. They are attempting to block the ability for democratically elected community representatives to know about or feed into what will dramatically impact our community, villages, streets and neighbourhoods! Alarm bells should be going off!
I have not been given any detail about these reforms. There is a discussion that they could speed up the planning process. But is that by simply removing the voice of our community? There is discussion that the reforms will help to stimulate a post-COVID recovery. But are quick builds more important than long-term neighbourhood character and due consideration of context?
My neighbouring Mayor, Gary Thompson of Boroondara pointed out, “Over the last 24 years each State Government has introduced a few new Planning Provisions. The Andrews State Government has introduced 1/3 of all the Planning Provisions over the last 24 years in just over two and a half years…. Why? Because they have the power to do so in Government.”
This is not democracy in action. It is more like democracy being locked out of the room.
And it all might happen before Christmas. However, we don't really know because they will not share with locally elected representatives what’s behind the ‘secret planning reform’ door.
Stonnington Council has goals and plans for how we want to preserve and enhance our neighbourhoods, villages and streets. We have educated and sophisticated residents that expect to be able to have a voice in what happens in their neighbourhoods and streets. We have residents who expect their Council to advocate on their behalf. I am highly concerned about these reforms - and our community should be too."
I knew it was my lucky day. Returning home from a walk this afternoon I removed the clutter of advertising material from my letter box. A rather subdued, tasteful card caught my eye as I shuffled through the assortment of catalogues and lost kitten notices. I noted the heading on a sage green coloured card - "Halcyon Close" - featuring a double storey, apparently newly built, modern styled townhouse complex. The verso showed the interior and outdoor living areas of one of these hallowed retreats, the living room suffused with light through floor- to -ceiling windows, onto neutral-coloured walls and soft furnishings, the outdoor living area dappled with sunlight, through a hint of greenery, on a neutral-tiled patio and beige outdoor furniture.
Oh, Halcyon days in the heart of Sorrey Hills, that could be mine for as little as $1.5 million!! I need never mow another lawn, never water another plant, or pull out another weed. I could close the door and temporarily forget "Halcyon," if, for some unexpected reason, I wanted to leave it for a short time.
At Halcyon Close I would feel as though I had died and gone to Heaven. Is this subdued green card in my letter box my ticket to eternal peace?
But oh, no, I can see complications at Halcyon Close! I think I will actually have to die to attain eternal peace after all.
Halcyon Close will have problems that are not evident from the controlled mood of the brochure. Alas, they have not mentioned the ceiling level windows that will be impossible to keep clean. There is no mention of the vexatious woman next door who complains about cooking odours, or the low frequency boom of the sound system in number 8, seeping through the poorly insulated walls. The details of the troublesome, high fee body corporate with its interminable meetings is not touched on. There is no hint of the cracks that will appear in the basement car park, putting the whole structure in jeopardy. The Saturday night hoons, doing donuts in the nearby cul de sac, do not feature, nor the planning permit for a nearby sixteen-storey apartment block, ready to cast an eternal shadow over Halcyon Close and its neighbours.
The cool headed accountant in me foresees that I might manage to salvage $200,000 from the transactions and fees, after selling house and garden to buy into "Halcyon's" tidy concrete time-saving confines. But this would soon be dissipated in lawyers fees, trying to get compensation for the structural nightmare in which I would now find myself!
In present day Melbourne, "Halcyon" is only an illusion.
A piece of clever advertising was placed in my letter box, transporting me to Heaven .... but only for five minutes.
The video inside the article is a record of the third ARAG (Ashburton Residents Action Group) public rally over six years in the residential battle to protect Markham Estate and the surrounding streets and environment.
What was once a 56 apartment, two storey public housing community in Ashburton turned into a six year nightmare for residents when the State Government announced it would be replacing the 56 apartments with 240, of which only 60 would be for public housing; the rest to be sold privately for a fortune.
This outrageous proposal galvanised the community and they have been fighting for a fair go and consultation ever since.
Speakers at this rally included ARAG leaders Ian and Rita, David Davis (Shadow Planning Minister), Cr Garry Thompson (Mayor of Boroondara) and Clifford Hayes MP (Sustainable Australia Party).
In attendance was Will Fowles MP (Member for Burwood) who declined to speak.
Advocacy has now resulted in this proposal being reduced to 178 public housing units (non-privatised) however the commercial size of the development in a residential area is what the residents are still battling.
No developer in Melbourne could build this development, however the State Government have exempted themselves from planning laws. In addition, they have recently passed more laws that remove any requirement for consultation or planning application.
This is a dictatorship, and the residents of Ashburton are fighting back alongside every other Victorian community being overridden by this State Government.
These developments must be reduced in size, residents must be treated fairly, and planning must be returned to Local Government who understand their suburbs.
People concerned about Harkaway, in the Green Wedge, near Berwick are asking for your help to stop development ruining this lovely area. Why don’t you write to the Minister too and plead with him to say "NO." Submissions urgently needed before 5pm on 6 November. Subject: Proposed Rosemaur development for King Road Harkaway, Email to: [email protected] Details inside article.
To all who care about preserving special places like Harkaway and their green wedge surrounds:
Harkaway is a hidden gem tucked away in the rolling foothills to the Dandenong Ranges just north of Berwick in the City of Casey. Until now, State Governments of both “colours” have agreed it should be sacrosanct - a “no go” zone for urban use development.
Wealthy Melbourne businessman Lindsay Hogg wants Planning Minister Richard Wynne to rezone his property in the middle of Harkaway’s precious Green Wedge land to enable an otherwise prohibited development including a restaurant, function centre and art gallery.
We are not against the concept, but looked at from every angle, this is the wrong location. It would bring large volumes of regular traffic into a dead end, high fire risk area, right through the tiny hamlet.
The local community will be subjected to this onslaught seven days a week, from 7am through to 1am Friday/Saturday, and until 11pm for the other five days, including Sunday.
Lunch patrons who have "wined and dined" would be passing the primary school where two cars can’t get by each other at pick up time, and there is no scope for widening. Many children walk or ride bikes to and from school or to the shop, park, tennis courts and playground, especially at weekends.
The change that would result from such a rezoning would be enormous and irreversible. The bushland and rural character of King Road would be transformed into an urbanised streetscape, with significant potential for environmental damage to Walsdorf Creek and increased traffic accidents.
The local community is united against this development, but its voice is drowned out by the media campaign of Mr Hogg’s PR team which is presenting the application as a “fait accompli”.
The Planning Minister is seeking feedback on the proposal.
Please refer to the attached information sheet to help you provide it - loud and clear.
Save the Casey Foothills Association is joining forces with the Friends of Harkaway Association and the Harkaway Residents Group to try and prevent what would be a grotesque anomaly in this location.
There are far better alternative site options that would result in an improved outcome for the venture.
Please make a submission before 6 November and help prevent this potential catastrophe.
Or if you miss this deadline, please email it direct to the Minister.
Political pressure is the only way to protect our increasingly threatened special places from assault by powerful monied forces with their own agendas.
HARKAWAY & ITS GREEN WEDGE ARE UNDER SERIOUS IMMINENT THREAT
A SITE SPECIFIC AMENDMENT TO THE CASEY PLANNING SCHEME BY THE PLANNING MINISTER TO REZONE ONE PROPERTY IN THE MIDDLE OF HARKAWAY’S PRECIOUS GREEN WEDGE LAND.
For what purpose?
TO ENABLE AN OTHERWISE PROHIBITED LARGE SCALE URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN KING ROAD – NAMELY AN ART GALLERY, FUNCTION CENTRE, RESTAURANT AND TWO DWELLINGS.
What can I do?
MAKE A SUBMISSION BEFORE THE CLOSING DATE (See below for details)
What is the time frame?
SUBMISSIONS NOW ACCEPTED UNTIL 5:00 PM, FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2020.
The Government had given the neighbours only 4 weeks’ notice & has not advised the village or other outlying residents at all. An extension of 3 months was sought. We got an extra 2 weeks.
How can I get more information?
Google “Rosemaur Gallery”. Select “Planning”, then “Documents” tab, OR type into your Search bar https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/rosemaur-gallery#documents, or just click on the link below:
Who to contact if I have a question?
State planning department: Hayley Becker – Manager Planning Services (South) Ph: 0423 491 851
Local community rep: Philip Battye Mob: 0407 012 006 Email: [email protected]
Green Wedges rep: Rosalie Counsell Mob: 0429 955 421 Email: [email protected]
What are the main issues? (See “Further Considerations” below for expanded list)
Planned large volumes of related traffic will be funnelled through the village past its primary school.
Widening and sealing King Road would:
o Destroy the character and identity of Harkaway as a country hamlet in a semi-rural bushland setting;
o Risk damage to the environmentally sensitive Waldorf Creek.
The site is in an increasingly high fire risk area at the far extremity of a dead end road.
The only escape route would entail annexing and sealing the equestrian trail, thus turning both King Road Harkaway and Farm Lane Berwick into through roads.
The proposal contradicts the very purpose of the existence of the green wedges and makes a mockery of the Planning Minister’s promise to further protect them.
What next? How to make a submission
Email your submission to: [email protected]
(This can be addressed to Mr Stuart Menzies, Director - State Planning Services and Cc’d to the Planning Minister: [email protected])
Remember – one sentence is better than nothing. Just say what you want to say in your own words, and you’ll be able to expand on or speak to this for the Panel Hearing, currently scheduled for next January 2021, should you wish to do so.
For over 20 years, our local residents have fought and won numerous battles to protect Harkaway’s special environmental and amenity values. On each occasion, State Government has supported the contention that these values must be preserved at all costs and Harkaway deemed sacrosanct.
Never before has our community been disenfranchised by Government in this way.
This application constitutes complete disregard for local community and for democratic process.
o People who live in and/or regularly visit the village of Harkaway would be as adversely affected as anyone else but were not notified.
o The short time frame and failure to consult affected parties raises the question of undue influence, or at best, democracy being compromised in the interests of misguided economic expediency.
Harkaway Road itself is fairly narrow and winding. It’s intersection with King Road is dangerous, despite the very small, inadequate roundabout. (No room for bigger one.)
The in-principle acceptance of the application is claimed to be partly based on the supposed value of the art collection. But it appears there has been no proper assessment of its real value. Regardless, this should not drive a planning decision.
The whole district is a Designated Bushfire Prone Area, and an estimated 40% of site is subject to the even more restrictive Bushfire Management Overlay.
There are no reticulated services in the area except electricity.
Harkaway’s 175 year old history, it’s unspoiled non-urban character, its wonderful landscapes and its high-value biodiversity should qualify the whole area as having State significance. Any suggestion that an inappropriately located art gallery and function centre could trump this is a nonsense.
The direct intervention by the Planning Minister Richard Wynne:
Flouts proper planning protocols by unjustifiably bypassing local council as the primary decision-maker on changes to the Planning Scheme.
Contradicts the very purpose of the existence of the green wedge zones.
Sets a dangerous precedent for future similar damaging applications.
Pre-empts and undermines a current Government review that aims to further strengthen protections in the Green Wedge zones.
Provides a massive concession to the proponent but inflicts enormous detriment on the local community. (Note: The applicant has registered as a charity, so will presumably be exempt from certain rates and taxes.)
Flies in the face of his stated intention not to intervene in local planning decisions.
If Casey Council and the Victorian Government preside over the wanton squandering of this unique, widely treasured asset that is Harkaway – “the jewel in Casey’s crown” – for the sake of an inappropriately located, wildly experimental, fragmenting development on the basis of a nebulous promise by a vested interest landowner living elsewhere, it will go down in Casey’s history as an outrage second only to the findings of the IBAC enquiry.
Harkaway needs your help. We can’t fight this David & Goliath battle alone.
Frankston Councillor Glenn Aitken was notified on Thursday 12 March that the LXRP 'works' east of the railway line at Seaford will proceed without further consultation. "It is likely they will remove more vegetation immediately.They will flatten pretty much everything on the eastern side of the railway line from Eel Race Rd to Coolibar Ave. There is no right of appeal as it is on their land which...they conveniently forget... is still public land, owned by the State." This is the clear message that authorities need to hear and heed,as expressed by Cr Glenn, "Our natural environment is not negotiable and must be protected."
You can watch more of Cr Glenn's inspirational Proclamation of 24 February here:
Unfortunately the 'authorities' are not listening to the community, but to the population boosters and developers in and close to government.
Please let your protests be heard and voice your opposition to the wilful environmental destruction without delay to Sonya Kilkenny MP for Carrum :
- telephone her office at (03) 9773 2727
- post on her Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/SonyaKilkennyMP/ and alert others
- post on other social media platforms
- alert your friends and contacts
Whether or not the vegetation is on railway controlled land is irrelevant.
The vegetation is still a vital connection to the coastal corridor.
Birds, native bees, animals or other inhabitants of the coastal corridor don’t look at a tree and choose not to go there because it’s under railway and State governance.
Cr Glenn is arranging a public meeting and further notice will be given when arrangements are finalised.
The 'densification' that planners push to accommodate overpopulation drives increasing water pollution risks, along with climate change. “Generally, we expect urbanisation to increase groundwater DOC (dissolved organic carbon) concentrations by up to 19 per cent, compared to agricultural or natural land use, likely as the result of contamination – for example, through leaking septic and sewer systems.” (Research paper.)
Climate change and urbanisation are set to threaten groundwater drinking water quality, new research from UNSW Sydney shows.
More than half of the world’s population faces a looming threat to the quality and availability of their drinking water because climate change and urbanisation are expected to cause an increase in groundwater organic carbon, a new UNSW study has found.
The research, published in Nature Communications overnight, examined the largest global dataset of 9404 published and unpublished groundwater dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations from aquifers in 32 countries across six continents.
DOC is a naturally occurring component of groundwater, but the higher its concentration, the more difficult and expensive it is to make groundwater drinkable. In Australia, groundwater is widely used as the main source of drinking water for many cities and towns.
Lead author Dr Liza McDonough, of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre at UNSW, said the study forecasted elevated DOC concentrations because of projected changes in temperature and rainfall due to climate change, as well as increased urbanisation.
“We identified groundwater DOC concentration increases of up to 45 per cent, largely because of increased temperatures in the wettest quarter of the year – for example, in a number of south-eastern states in the United States. We predict increases in DOC in these locations could increase water costs for a family of four by US$134 per year,” Dr McDonough said.
“Other areas such as eastern China, India and parts of Africa already experience severe groundwater contamination issues. These may be further compounded, particularly in south-eastern China, by groundwater DOC increases associated with large predicted increases in temperature in the wettest quarter of the year by 2050.
“Generally, we expect urbanisation to increase groundwater DOC concentrations by up to 19 per cent, compared to agricultural or natural land use, likely as the result of contamination – for example, through leaking septic and sewer systems.”
The research, a collaboration between UNSW, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Southern Cross University, British Geological Survey, and the University of Bradford, found four major contributing factors to groundwater DOC levels: climate, land use, inorganic chemistry and aquifer age.
Dr McDonough said increased groundwater DOC, whether naturally occurring or due to contamination, also posed a threat to human health.
“Groundwater is Earth’s largest source of freshwater and provides essential drinking water for more than 50 per cent of the world’s population,” she said.
“But, because most health impacts caused by DOC are related to the formation of by-products of water treatment chlorination and depend on concentrations of other water chemical parameters, the World Health Organization and many countries – including Australia – do not regulate DOC concentrations in drinking water directly.”
Dr McDonough said that while DOC is a naturally occurring, key element of groundwater it could combine with, and transport, potentially dangerous heavy metals otherwise bound to rocks and sediment where groundwater occurs.
“This is a concern when, for example, more than 100,000 lifetime cancer cases in the United States alone can be attributed to drinking water contaminants,” she said.
Water treatment costs to rise
Dr McDonough said it was important to understand what caused high DOC concentrations in groundwater.
“An increase in groundwater DOC concentration impacts the ability and therefore cost to make groundwater drinkable,” she said.
“For example, we projected a 16 per cent increase in annual household water costs in some parts of the United States because of rising water treatment costs – due to the need to implement additional water treatment measures to remove increased DOC concentrations.
“The decrease in groundwater quality and substantial increase in water treatment costs will also compound existing constraints on groundwater resources, including availability.”
Wet vs arid climates
Dr McDonough said the impacts on groundwater DOC levels from climate change and urbanisation, while likely to occur globally, differed by geography and climate.
“Our research found that in arid climates, groundwater DOC concentrations increased with higher rainfall because microbes can better break down organic matter, such as leaves, under warm and increasingly wet conditions,” she said.
“Increased temperatures in arid environments, however, reduced groundwater DOC concentrations because when conditions are too hot and dry, vegetation and organic matter sources are limited.
“By contrast, increased rain in warm and wet environments decreased groundwater DOC concentrations because heavy rainfall dilutes the DOC in groundwater.”
Water treatment solutions
Dr McDonough said she looked forward to conducting further research to determine the best water treatment options for areas where groundwater DOC concentrations are anticipated to increase.
“Our next step is to investigate how the character of DOC changes when you have different aquifer minerals, because some types of organic matter can stick to certain mineral surfaces and ultimately reduce this type of organic matter remaining in the water,” she said.
“This will help provide guidance on the most suitable water treatment options in areas where DOC concentrations are expected to increase.”
Read the full research paper in Nature Communications: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14946-1
People should know about the state government’s amendments to the Land Tax Act. An interesting article was written about it by Michael Flynn QC in The Age of February 17th 2020. regarding the amendment to the Land Tax Act to restrict land tax exemptions on contiguously rated properties only to regional Victoria. See: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/home-owners-could-be-slugged-with-an-unfair-tax-20200213-p540jq.html. These changes have resulted in charging land tax for anyone in metropolitan Melbourne with vacant land contiguous with their place of residence. Until now, land adjacent to your home was exempt from Land Tax if the property was rated by Council as contiguous (i.e. house and land rated as one parcel of land) The new amendment has changed this to now levy the tax on any properties in metropolitan Melbourne which have contiguous vacant land next to a place of residence. (For the purposes of this exercise, Mornington Peninsula also is considered to be metropolitan by the way). A paltry $43 million revenue is anticipated.
We have just received a Land Tax bill for $7,786 for two vacant blocks adjoining our house on the Mornington Peninsula. We currently maintain the two vacant lots as 'Land for Wildlife’ – effectively as our bush garden. The garden provides the last remaining piece of intact habitat in the surrounding estate – and we say provides open space and improves the amenity of the area for all other resident too. Many other affected people might have veggie gardens, sheds, animal runs, chook pens etc.
We spoke to the State Revenue Office asking why the Act was amended, and were advised that there was a land shortage in Melbourne due to population pressures and that therefore the land should be developed. So, clearly this “initiative” is designed to get people with vacant land next to their existing homes to sell the vacant land- or maybe the home as well. The consequences of this are obvious: Developer windfall resulting in more people, more traffic, less trees, lost amenity and privacy etc. etc.
Many people affected by this change to the Land Tax Act might be asset rich but cash poor, living in properties they have owned for decades. The dramatic fall in interest rates is likely adversely affecting their ability to meet their existing costs of living, let alone a new land tax bill in the thousands of dollars. Presumably most affected people in the real metropolitan Melbourne, will have sites valued higher than ours on the Mornington Peninsula so will likely be getting bills for even more $$ than we have. They might have no alternative but to sell up.
I suspect many people would be horrified by this latest effort to destroy suburban amenity and impose social engineering on people who can no longer afford to live where they want to, just so we can jam in more people. It smacks of a desperate attempt by government to please developer mates by freeing up any remaining vacant sites in the suburbs for developers to move in- meanwhile existing residents are yet again the losers.
Surely this is an unfair and unjust tax. It was slipped in without any consultation with affected people or the wider community. It certainly was not flagged as a policy in the last state election, and the predicted $43 million revenue - for all the inconvenience it imposes on home owners and likely environmental and amenity impacts - is paltry in the extreme.
Today, 24 February 2020, Frankston Councillor, Glen Aitken, led a protest with a proclamation against the destruction of trees in a section of rare bush habitat along Kananook Creek. His speech is transcribed inside this article. The Victorian Railway Level Crossing Removal Authority is the author of what appears to be arrogant and gratuitous removal of precious old trees and bushland. This bushland is part of a several kilometer connected habitat that runs along the banks of Kananook Creek. The purpose of the moonscaping of this area is to construct a concrete bicycle path that no-one here wants. Ironically the State Government and the Greens have been promoting cycling as a healthy 'green' activity, whilst using it to spearhead land-clearing in bushland and parks. Residents feel that this shock and awe approach is to soften them up for the execution of an overall plan to infill and overdevelop this area, as part of the State and Federal Governments' project of engineering population growth and overdevelopment, at the behest of the property development lobby, whom they serve.
Cr Glen Aitken acknowledge the Bunerong people and those attending, including people who had travelled quite a distance. Additionally he acknowledged the people who in the past and the present and into the future have fought so strongly for the environment in Frankston and surrounding municipalities and beyond. We would be lost without their efforts. He aknowledged Cr Steve Toms who also attended.
"Today is a powerful affirmation of our values and determination to guard and cherish our land. Today is an opportunity to send a clear message to parliament and authorities that our natural environment is not negotiable, and must be protected.
This is a proclamation on behalf of our community to stand strong against planning totalitarianism. And to challenge any government or authority that claims to have listened to the community and then turns around summarily to brutalise land and places we all love.
In the beginning, the Aboriginal people gathered on this land, where we stand today. They hunted and fished for survival. They cared for the land and lived with it in harmony. Kananook Creek was once a vital waterway, connected to the vast Carrum Carrum Swamps, part of the huge and extensive ecosystem, which has now largely vanished. The creek and its associated vegetation has long been treasured as it represents an irreplacable reserve that can never be replicated again.
Throughout the years, many people, particularly from the mid-20th century, to this present time, have engaged in heroic labours and struggles to save both Seaford Foreshore and Kananook Creek from degradation and exploitation. They have held high the torch of environmental justice.
Only recently, Frankston Council, creditably, opposed any further development of the Green Wedge, and Council's decision is vindicated. By contrast, the wilful destruction of coastal vegetation here is absolutely shameful, and totally contrary to widely accepted environmental principles and public expectations. How has this happened?
There are numerous ways to 'arrive' with a 'misreading' of public opinion, through surveys and other means, such as methodology. Anyone can get a staged answer according to the style of question that is asked, which in turn can produce the exact result that was wanted and engineered in the first place. Another way to silence anyone who speaks out, is to subject them to public embarassment or political ridicule.
Many people complained throughout the entire consultation process, but information was difficult to pin down, and [they] were not satisfied with answers that lacked substance. Our own council had difficulty in securing detail when we requested information, and were taken by surprise with outcomes.
Given the tree losses that have occurred, it is only reasonable many are now asking, 'how did this happen'? Local MPs should answer to the community for what has been done. A thoroughly detailed and educated approach ought to have been taken. And what is going to be done to ensure that this does not happen again?
In Seaford, with this project, there must be a rethink and proper consultation before any further works are carried out. With a huge population increase planned for Melbourne, we have seen a loss of values we have all cherished, such as local identity and character being bulldozed to make way for towering monoliths and multilevel appartments.
Our history is being lost and the places we identified with are vanishing. Residential overcrowding, loss of green space and canopy trees, with housing prices escalating, far beyond the means of many, who will never be able to purchase, and continue, as they age, in rental, 'til they are forced out through inability to pay. That has changed the social landscape.
Our native reserves, our green wedges, and any other open spaces are consequently more important and more critically needed than ever before.
[Picks up a silver coloured cup full of woodchips.] These remnants are from a tree that was about 80 years old and therefore began its life as a young seedling at the end of the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War Two in 1939. It saw the reconstruction years of the 1950s and it continued to spread its branches, providing shelter and food to native birds and animals. It saw the turn of the millenium and continued to cast welcome shade and held its place with pride in our landscape - until this February, when it was unforgivably dragged to the ground and destroyed. These chips are the body and the spirit of the tree and I now return them to the earth.
In adversity and hardship, we grow stronger and, in the face of environmental brutality, our voice becomes louder. We will never surrender to stupidity.
We urgently seek greater recognition and protection for all native vegetation. We demand that government and all relevant authorities rewrite consultation formulars to guarantee real consultation processes instead of public pantomime. We call upon the State Government and associated authorities to account for what has happened here in Seaford. And Carrum, for that matter.
I'm going to just add one more comment about Carrum. The vaunted proposal was to provide a place with lovely parks and new facilities. When you go through Carrum today, and see what has happened, and that almighty grey monolith of concrete and steel - it has cut the guts right out of Carrum. It has destroyed Carrum as a kind and generous low-key postal destination forever. That is unforgivable!
And, we call for a complete reassessment of state planning policy in order that strong, clear and visionary policies be written and enacted, that are based on the human values that protect the history, environment, and liveability of the greater metropolitan area."
The transcript made by the author of this article from the video.
Frankston's Cr Glenn Aitken is now asking for your support with your attendance this coming Monday near the Seaford Scout Hall next to Seaford Station at 1PM, 24 February 2020, when he will make a proclamation against such vandalism.
To all tree lovers and protectors of the environment,
You may be aware that the crossing removal works at Seaford have led to the terrible destruction of many significant mature trees. This has caused an outcry in the community.
Frankston Council has written this week to LXRA (The Level Crossing Removal Authority ) seeking assurance that further vegetation removal works will be paused pending a more thorough consultation with Council and the community.
Frankston's Cr Glenn Aitken is now asking for your support with your attendance this coming Monday as follows:
"I am making a proclamation at Seaford near the Scout hall next to Seaford station at 1 PM on Monday 24th Feb. 2020. It will be about the vandalism by LXRA. Would you be able to be present and also spread the word to all environment groups and community members that value our history, coast and vegetation?"
Please make every effort to be there to lend your support and let as many others as possible know about this!
To Councillors, Seaford, and [email protected]
I am calling for Council to initiate an immediate halt to all tree removals by LXRA between Seaford and Carrum stations. There has been no substantial community consultation about these removals; the path of this track; and changes to the existing track. It is imperative that ALL WORKS BE HALTED IMMEDIATELY until community consultation is undertaken. The LXRA should also be held accountable for all unauthorised removals undertaken so far, with reparations or fines as necessary for the damage already done.
There are far too many tree removals in Seaford as a result of this project, not to mention other developments, and this particular aspect of the project has not had anywhere near sufficient consultation.
Seaford Community Committee
February 14 at 7:23 PM ·
At its 17 Feb 2020 meeting, FCC resolved on an urgent business item which included writing a letter to LXRA/LXRP in relation to their vegetation removal works. Hopefully, this will result in some consideration of the vegetation in our suburb.
The Vic State Govt body LXRA/LXRP has commenced work to extend its bike path in Seaford.
The new stretch will replace the footpath beside the Seaford RSL bistro (between the bistro and Kananook Creek).
Sadly, the first casualty of construction was the bird feeding trees immediately outside the bistro. The Rainbow Lorikeets are looking quite confused.
From now until sometime in March, RSL parking will be reduced, plus the section of Seaford station carpark shown in the images below will be closed.
We've just been advised that the new bike path between Seaford and Carrum running between Railway Pde and the Kananook Creek is also currently under construction, causing destruction of more bushland around Armstrongs Rd and Coolibar Avenue.
More photos and videos: https://www.facebook.com/SeafordCommunityCommittee/posts/3175809255784642
Why, once again, does the ABC avoid the issue of population growth, the primary cause of housing affordability. It is simply a fantasy to believe that adding another 400,000 people to Australia's population every year is not relevant
What follows is the text of a complaint lodged with the Australian ABC regarding the bias in its reporting on housing in a series of segments on the 7.30 report:-
“This week, the 7.30 Report included 4 segments on the above subject.
Once again, the ABC avoided the key issue like the plague.
It can be argued that housing affordability is Australia's greatest problem. Thousands of young couples in particular are having to save for years and years to accumulate a house deposit while prices skyrocket. This puts relationships under strain, and means that they often have to put off having families until they are well into their 30s, while often having to pay back a large HECS debt, and repay large mortgage instalments at the same time.
And it is not only young people who are affected. There are many older women who are caught in a rental trap.And don't get me started on the desperately bad housing conditions being experienced by our indigenous folk.
None of your "contributors" to the segments offered any real solutions, apart from densification, which many people do not want in their neighborhoods
So why, once again, does the ABC avoid the issue of population growth, the primary cause of this problem. It is simply a fantasy to believe that adding another 400,000 people to Australia's population every year is not relevant.
The answer to the problem is to reign in this insane population growth. This is easily done by big cuts to immigration, and encouragement of small families.
This is not the first time I have raised this matter with you. Why do you avoid it. I refuse to believe that ABC researchers are not aware of the problem. It seems clear to me your reluctance to discuss population growth is idealogical, or perhaps you are frightened of being labelled racist. Proposing to cut immigration is not racist unless the proposer is advocating cutting immigration of particular races.
I have 3 children and six grandchildren. Two of my children have managed to break into the housing market, but the housing opportunities for the other seven are very uncertain, and a cause of worry for them as they enter into relationships and try and get on with their lives.
I am very angry that my family members are having to worry about getting a roof over their heads. My anger is made worse by the stupidity and ignorance of the political parties who will not acknowledge the problem. And of course, the ABC is aiding and abetting them by refusing to discuss the issue.
I have noted this week the saturation coverage the ABC has given to the so called sports rorts affair. Yes, that is a case of seriously bad behaviour by the Government, but it pales into insignificance compared to the pressure put on many Australians in obtaining housing. So why does the primary cause not get more attention.
ABC people, you are not doing your job. Your people have been whining in recent times about freedom of the press in particular having a good old bitch about AFP raids on the ABC offices. Well do not expect any sympathy from me. You are guilty of keeping relevant information from the public. It cuts both ways you know. Keep your bloody ideaology to yourselves, and start reporting/ commenting on ALL relevant facts, not just the bits that suit you.
PS And while you are at it, you might like to comment on the fact that the housing affordability issue is worsened by the fact that many Australians own multiple properties. I believe there are 20,000 Australians who own 6 or more investment properties, including many of our politicians. At one stage Barry O’Sullivan, a Nationals MP, owned 50. What about reporting on whether this is having an effect on housing affordability (or are you frightened the Government might cut your budget if you do). It is clearly a serious question as to whether ownership of residential property in particular should be controlled to ensure that house ownership is shared equitably by all Australians.
cc Ita Buttrose, Nicolle Flint, Minister of Communications”
Brian Walsh, President, Kew Cottages Coalition, today called on Heritage Victoria to halt work at the State Government site overlooking Yarra Bend Park in order to test for the deadly plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, which appears to be the likely cause of the death a large rare tree, and which has been previously linked to construction works at Kew Cottages. "Stopping the current works is necessary to prevent more damage to heritage listed trees", Mr. Walsh said. Public Meeting 26 February. Details inside.
"Stopping the current works is necessary to prevent more damage to heritage listed trees", Mr. Walsh said.
One of the tallest heritage listed trees on the Kew Cottages site, a Canary Island Pine located immediately next to the Walker sales building , has now been assessed as being in "advanced decline" by Heritage Victoria.
Mr. Walsh said there is a National Threat Abatement Plan specifically designed to help control the deadly plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi .
Phytophthora cinnamomi, or 'dieback' as the pathogen is more commonly known was discovered to have infected the Kew Cottages development site in 2006 soon after construction works commenced, and a number of trees died.
"As a consequence," Mr. Walsh said, "Heritage Victoria insisted at the time that quarantine provisions were maintained around the infested site during housing construction works at Kew Cottages, wash down facilities were installed to reduce the chance of the reintroduction of the pathogen, and warning signs were erected on the site. "
"However, Walker appear to have removed all these environmental protection measures some years ago", Mr. Walsh said.
No Phytophthora protection measures appear to have been put in place for the new development works that started last week - despite a contractor being warned by the heritage watchdog last year for undertaking excavations on the site without a permit.
Indeed it appears that the unauthorised excavations last year were also undertaken without any quarantine provisions or wash down facilities, and the health of the Canary Island Pine adjacent to the Walker sales building began to deteriorate in the months soon after the excavations.
Mr. Walsh said, "It beggars belief that a nationally recognised threat abatement plan that has operated on a State Government major project for over a decade suddenly appears to have ceased without any warning to the public !"
The safest course of action for everyone concerned is for the Heritage watchdog and Boroondara Council to stop the current excavations, until they can get the expert advice that they need to ensure that the risks posed by the pathogen have been properly addressed.
Unless excavations cease immediately more trees and plants may well die in the Main Drive Kew estate, Willsmere and Yarra Bend Park.
Public Meeting 26 February
Important Information Update
The Kew Cottages Coalition will hold a Public Meeting to discuss this Major Development on the Kew Cottages Main Drive Parkland
Date: Wednesday 26th February 2020
Time: 7pm - 8.30pm
Kew Civic Centre
Cnr Cotham Road and Civic Drive, KEW
In the Beginning …
Earth’s atmosphere was unbreathable to humans. But that was okay, since there were no humans. Photosynthesising cyanobacteria used sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into food, incidentally producing oxygen. The many microbially-mediated rocks (stromatolites) the bacteria left behind from their halcyon days indicate a cyanobacteria population explosion so vast that it seems likely that simple metabolism accidentally transformed the atmosphere to the one we love and overuse today. This ‘oxygen holocaust’ probably also brought about the fossil status of our inadvertent benefactors around 2.5 billion years ago.
If tiny animals could achieve this, imagine what a lot of humans can do.
Incredibly the evolutionary serendipity from our point of view did not end there because cyanobacteria fats eventually formed the petroleum hydrocarbons which drive the sophisticated combustion engines of trains and boats and planes today.
The human population explosion followed and our activities, combined with energy created by burning the cyanobacteria fats, created accretionary structures on a scale never seen before. We are covering the earth in dead matter, faster than any of nature's services can deal with, and it is said that we are changing the atmosphere into an oven.
Looks like we are going the way of the cyanobacteria.
At the beginning of this month, at the height of the bushfires in Sydney and Gippsland, I had the weird experience of spending two nights in a short-stay apartment building in A'Beckett Street, Melbourne. It was peopled by uncommunicative strangers and completely jerry-built. The handle fell off the door to the 18th floor balcony (lucky I was not outside at the time), the bathroom door kept sliding open unless you put a towel under it, the wifi was unreliable and weak, and the television did not work at all. A'Beckett Street is full of, and surrounded by, such multi-storey short-stay apartments, their mirror-glass neighbours reflecting them endlessly in fractals. I took photos of these broken glass splinters crowded together, group-punching the smokey sky, like angular stomatolites of unprecedented height.
Opposite the short-stay was a classic situation of an abandoned two-storey shop frogmarched between two taller buildings. And this group was dwarfed by a gathering army of giant towers. On every nearby street, more were being built, untidy packaging spilling onto pavements. You could not walk straight down a street because of the debris and the barriers. You could not talk because of the construction noise.
Dead matter. No green spaces, no animals or natural processes - apart from geological ones - to wear these materials down. When they crumble they won't dissolve easily back into the environment; they will be like their own tombstones; a jagged cemetery of human-generated stromatolites.
There was still a little bit of green at Victoria Markets - also doomed to be covered in skyscrapers, if Melbourne planning continues its rapine way with our city.
A friend expressed shock at the density of high-rises in Melbourne, wondering why the laws allowed them to crowd out the sunlight.
But homo economicus is driven blindly to convert land into money, as the cyanobacteria were blindly driven to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. The cyanobacteria left stromatolites and homo economicus leaves giant agglomerations, but it's still just another way of getting food, however indirect.
These paragraphs about cyanobacteria come from the introduction to Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Ed., Pluto Press, UK, 2008.
Planning Backlash writes: We have an urgent matter in Frankston as Cr Hampton is putting up a Notice of Motion (NOM) at next Tuesday's meeting on 28 January 2020 to reverse Council's decision on the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan of 14 October 2019 to allow instead industrial expansion in the Green Wedge as well as subdivisions for residential use. See happy outcome here.
Cr Colin Hampton has a NOM at next Tuesday's council meeting in Frankston to reverse the decision on 14 October 2019 on Frankston's Green Wedge Management Plan.
It's a very lengthy NOM which includes allowing expansion of the industrial area into the Frankston's Green Wedge and allowing that ‘areas of land suitable only for grazing agricultural activities in Precinct 2 ... be better utilised for purposes other than agriculture – e.g. for employment or residential uses’.
The lengthy NOM 8 is in next Tuesday's Agenda for OM 1, 2020, Item 14.5, at:
Here is the start of the Notice of Motion:
14.5 2020/NOM8 - Green Wedge Management Plan
On 15 January 2020 Councillor Colin Hampton gave notice of his intention to move the following motion:
1. The authority to write to the Minister for Planning about amending the Frankston
Planning Scheme to include the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan is
2. Council does not proceed with implementing its Resolution of 14 October 2019
concerning the Frankston Green Wedge Management Plan.
I hope readers will express their opposition as a matter of urgency by sending emails to this effect to Frankston councillors at:
COUNCIL MEETING 19 NOVEMBER 2019: Many people enjoy Ricketts Tea House as a relatively modest place to have tea and cakes along a long piece of otherwise aesthetically deserted beach on this Pacific Island that we call Australia. Now Brighton Council is pushing a monstrous 'redevelopment' which will see liquor served seven nights a week until 11.30pm. One can predict the noise, violence, and rubbish, with frightened, disturbed birds. If this goes ahead, Melbourne will lose such a pleasant quiet area for the financial profit of a few. This will also be a prong used to usher in more 'development' in an area which has conserved vegetation and housing well back from the beach. It's another sign of the developer take-over of democracy in this state and in this country. You can go to the council meeting and try to push back against this overdevelopment push.
Council meeting – to agree Ricketts Point Teahouse redevelopment and extension of liquor hours to 11.30pm 7 nights a week
When: This Tuesday night, 19 Nov, 7pm
Where: Council Chambers, Boxshall Street Brighton
Details: Agenda Item 10.1 pp 29-65 . See this link:
Note: Council is recommending full agreement to extension of Ricketts Point Café liquor hours to 11.30pm 7 nights a week and to redevelopment. The plans appear to be for further enclosure of some of the open deck area.
No environmental impact will be considered.
They have discounted objections made by environmental groups.
Please Register at the link below, before 11am on 19 Nov, to speak in opposition or express disappointment:
Details to complete online:
Ordinary Council meeting
Strictly 4 minutes only allowed to speak
Similar plans for North Point Cafe
Note also: Agenda Item 10.2 North Point Café (pp 75 -83)
Redevelopment plans and extended opening hours also being recommended, although more limited hours eg 10pm - on the basis that it’s a residential area.
Michael McLaren speaks with Clifford Hayes, Member of the Legislative Assembly – Sustainable Australia Party’s Southern Metropolitan region Victoria, about his private members bill which proposes significant changes to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 which will give local councils more control of local planning policy and maximum building heights in their municipal districts. Remember Clifford's important bill will be put to Parliament this Wednesday morning (13 November 2019) about 10 or so. Consider coming to show your support by sitting in the gallery for the vote.
If I could tell my father what has happened in the years
Since he departed suddenly, extinguishing his fears
If I could tell my sister, so earnest and concerned
Now lying in her grave near those both ignorant and learned
If I could tell my mother, who confidently expected
That the wealth of generations would not be snatched by those elected...
Would I tell them truthfully that bad guys came and plundered?
They wrecked our streets, our landscape, as with bulldozers they thundered
They ripped through trees, they crashed through walls
Erased our past, it didn't last.
A cry of grief and all lay waste to metronomes, the wrecking balls -
What would I tell them now as I regard the transformation
What happened right in front of me was like a dislocation
"The Shock doctrine" or "Future Shock" was dispensed in spades
To the victims it was judiciously spun and cleverly explained
But lives now taken up with merely trying to stay afloat,
Swallowed it, repeated it, with not an ounce of doubt
A strange and constant war goes on, yes even in the sand belt
Where we walk our dogs, hear the birds, admire the trees that they inhabit
Opportunistically it strikes near my house, yours or others,
No care at all, no sympathy, for the poor folk who it bothers
What would I say to those passed away and don't know it fell apart?
Would I break it gently to let them know? At least it would be a start.
What would they think if I told them how our wildlife struggles gamely
Would they accept that timber trucks remove our forests daily?
Clear fell the dell where creatures charming,
Big eyes, that shine, endearing and alarming
Lose their homes and are left to die if they didn't die at first
No leaves to eat, no place to sleep, they will succumb to thirst
Relentless, it accelerates, leaves us, breathless and in shock,
What new surprise will meet our eyes next time we're taking stock?
Determined it continues and advances without care,
We live in hope that by some vain chance, our own home it will spare.
But inexorably, the monster has a job to do.
It's going there, it's coming here, and it will get you too.
Clifford Hayes, MP., of Sustainable Australia Party, asked Mr Jennings MP (Leader of the Government) to investigate selling public spaces to local governments at a nominal amount, given that population growth is driving ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne. Mr Jennings' 'nothing to see here' response smacks disingenuously of avoiding the obvious context of the government's massive population growth-engineering and overdevelopment, which is driving an accelerated reduction in space and all kinds of ammenities, as well as democracy.
Question without notice - Public Land Use (Wednesday 17 October 2019)
Mr HAYES (Southern Metropolitan) (12:11): My question without notice is to the minister representing the minister for finance. I refer to the report in the Age on 9 October by Noel Towell that the government intends to sell off more than 2600 hectares of publicly owned land from over 150 sites in Melbourne and country Victoria. Given the dramatic ongoing decline in open space per capita in Melbourne as a result of population growth of well over 100 000 per annum and the alarming decline in Melbourne’s vegetation cover, will the government investigate offering these parcels to local councils for a nominal amount subject to an enforceable condition that they are turned into, maintained and retained as public open space?
Mr JENNINGS (South Eastern Metropolitan—Leader of the Government, Special Minister of State, Minister for Priority Precincts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (12:12): For the benefit of the house I will just indicate that the Assistant Treasurer is the minister who is responsible, and I will take the question. There is not a minister for finance in the current government, although the function that Mr Hayes has referred to has been the domain of the minister for finance in previous administrations. So with that clarification, in terms of the issues for which Mr Hayes seeks a response, I am certain that the Assistant Treasurer will provide you with a written response.
But as an immediate response, can I indicate to you that there is absolutely nothing that is unusual about the identification of parcels of land across Victoria that may be sometimes considered by the government of the day in relation to what its appropriate public value may be and what alternative use it may be put to. There is absolutely nothing that is unusual with that circumstance. In fact every government does it. They continue to do it on the basis of being aware of the public land estate—there are millions of hectares of public land estate across the Victorian landscape now and there will be into the future—and of identifying small parcels of land that may be able to be put to a multitude of purposes. Some of them may be appropriate in the circumstances that Mr Hayes refers to. Some of them may be appropriate for some form of housing development, some of them may be appropriate for some degree of civic development and some of them may be appropriate for commercial development. It is incumbent upon the state to use its resources wisely in balancing the public interest. It does so on a continual basis and will continue to do so to assess the appropriate way in which we can maximise the value of public land to benefit the Victorian community.
So Mr Hayes may appreciate that. He is certainly a very clear and consistent advocate for appropriate public land values, environmental values and sustainability, and the government should respect that. I believe we do respect that. I look forward to the answer that the Assistant Treasurer will give you to provide you with overall confidence in that. I am not certain whether he will agree to the specific elements of either the terms of transfer or the ultimate use of any parcel of land prematurely, because that should be considered within the appropriate balance of what greater public benefit should be derived and maintained for the people of Victoria, but the Assistant Treasurer may augment my response to you.
Mr HAYES: I have no supplementary question, but I thank the minister and look forward to a written answer.
“This is where we have got to with government-engineered breakneck population growth that also puts property developers and associated professions in charge of planning. 110 golf-courses, which occupy green, treed spaces, in all kinds of areas in Melbourne and its suburbs and another 374 in Victorian regions, now carry hugely increased potential resale value if speculators can get them rezoned for more intensive use. Predictably, golf-course owners and probably management committees are now complaining that they aren’t making enough money. Some of their complaints will be well-founded, because state-imposed population pressure has caused demand for land, water and power, hence their costs, to rise rapidly. If nothing is done, either to reduce population growth, or exempt golf-courses from paying these charges, they will skyrocket.” (Sheila Newman, Population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist.)
After a 2017 discussion paper that not many of us heard about, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has again discreetly invited people to provide feedback to draft guidelines for their Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee, which is composed of property development industry professionals
SUBMISSION IN RESPONSE TO PROPOSAL FOR GOLF-COURSE REDEVELOPMENT
by Sheila Newman, Population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist.
Redeveloping golf courses and land-speculation:
This is where we have got to with government-engineered breakneck population growth that also puts property developers and associated professions in charge of planning. 110 golf-courses, which occupy green, treed spaces, in all kinds of areas in Melbourne and its suburbs and another 374 in Victorian regions, now carry hugely increased potential resale value if speculators can get them rezoned for more intensive use. Predictably, golf-course owners and probably management committees are now complaining that they aren’t making enough money. Some of their complaints will be well-founded, because state-imposed population pressure has caused demand for land, water and power, hence their costs, to rise rapidly. If nothing is done, either to reduce population growth, or exempt golf-courses from paying these charges, they will skyrocket.
The proposal is outrageous, of course. It is outrageous in scale, in potential irreversibility, in lack of statistics, and in lack of adequate notification of all Australians that something so huge is in train. If a government can provide wide, ongoing promotion of the dangers of bowel cancer, it could have reached more people on this.
It is also outrageous in the impossibility of most Victorians to find the time to contextualise, assess, and reply to the proposal, even if they knew about it.
It is notably shocking in its potential costs to environmental quality and diversity for all Australians.
It is especially outrageous in its potential strategic profit-grabbing by the property development and construction industry, which has positioned itself with government to generate focused benefits in demand from the massive population-growth engineering it has lobbied for so successfully and undemocratically. In the game of mates, the property developers and the state government (which has become dependent on stamp-duty in lieu of a real economy) are organised to receive the focused benefits, but the public will pay – and not just in dollars - the diffuse costs of this massive expansion and intensification.
This proposal, which flags a copious series of case-by-case fights over rezoning golf-courses for development, is a fine example of the kinds of diffuse and hard to identify costs that the public will bear if this goes ahead. The proposal would require Melbourne’s increasingly socially precarious population, already severely stressed by constant change, to endlessly monitor what is happening to golf courses along with all the other continuous development.
We should have the ability to reject out of hand such proposals all at once, in a job lot.
We should not be expected to devote our lives to fighting to keep what we have, against people who are supposed to be protecting it on our behalf.
Who, except developers, who are networked, resourced and organised at national, state and local level, could find out where all the golf-courses are and then attend, in person or by proxy, all the hearings and reviews, and engage in all the processes, that a Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee would apply to each of them? Who else could afford to do this? Who else controls the process?
On the technical side, these ‘planning guidelines’ lack adequate recognition or an overview of the huge natural benefits of relatively undeveloped land. Golf courses have important uses other than golf – as habitat for birds and other fauna, for climate stability, and for the green relief they provide from densely populated spaces. I personally prefer natural landscapes with native plants and animals to golf-courses, and I prefer landscape painting and bird-watching to golfing. Nonetheless, I can see that golf courses are much better for ecology and environment than buildings, roads, and other intensified land-uses. Melbourne, which was planned with large avenues and many green spaces, now lacks green spaces and is choked with traffic. Unfinancial golf-courses, if they cannot be made financial (see further on) should be returned to nature, to provide scarce habitat to our native animals and contact with nature for humans. These golf-courses often got by on the pretext that they would preserve open land and some habitat in the form of golf courses, as a trade-off for more development. “Since 2000 around over 10 new golf courses have been established as the centrepiece of high-end residential developments in Victoria.” No surprise if they want to develop it now.
Golf courses per capita and Victoria’s population juggernaut:
Given that the Victorian Government intends to keep inviting people to come and live and work in Victoria, anticipating doubling and redoubling of the population, if Victoria has more golf-courses per capita than other states, it will need them, for golf or for return to nature.
The situation is particularly dire for birds – they really need golf-courses. Australia is a land of birds; we have the most extraordinary range. Doesn’t anyone in planning know of our amazing evolutionary history? It is world famous! The majority of the world’s bird species started here, notably perching birds and song-birds. Humans who are able to hear and see birds deeply enjoy this experience, which seems to become more important as they get older. Bird-watching is an extremely popular activity in Australia. Birds Australia has multiple branches and a busy membership. Does the property development lobby/government really want to be responsible for wiping birds out in more and more places, and removing our age-old relation with them? Although birds are equipped to survive in many circumstances, able to move in search of water and food, massive population growth-fuelled development is transforming the sparse green fringes of this land into a hard-surface desert.
The situation for birds in the South East Region of Australia – Melbourne and Victoria – is increasingly difficult. Birds that require nesting hollows are devastated by the destruction of trees. ‘Common’ much-loved species like kookaburras, magpies and willy wagtails are now struggling, and shorebirds are in steep decline. Golf-course land, because it is not intensively used and retains trees, is a vital resource for birds. There are golf-courses in just about every kind of habitat, including near sea-shores.
Reward golf courses for their environmental services:
With regard to strengthening the viability and continuity of golf clubs, governments should reduce or remove the rates paid for land, water, and power, for golf courses (and any other undeveloped land). The government could pay golf-course owners for mitigating climate change and urban island heat effects through their green spaces. Developers should be levied for this purpose in order to compensate the damage that they do.
Development, with its land-clearing and massive use of materials and energy, as well as creating huge carbon emissions, creates clumps and blocks of aggregate dead material. This is hard for organisms to break down, and incapable of re-ordering and reproducing itself. Living things, however, are the only things that can actually reorder energy and materials, in the acts of ingestion, reproduction and cellular repair. The exception here is ‘modern’ human life, because humans come with more and more dead stuff per capita, in the form of roads, buildings, cars, and other consumables. Hence, we need more golf courses, or to return them to nature, more natural spaces, trees, forests, and healthy water bodies to support the organisms and ecologies that can clean up our synthetic concretions.
In this regard, the current economic model which taxes land in order to induce profit-making activity on it, is now a liability. It needs to change in order to promote natural land. State Governments have to get over their addiction to stamp duty. Otherwise, all this land will disappear under tar and cement.
Redevelopment is a bad thing for golf-courses. We have too much development now, and too much human population growth. Any golf-courses that are going to be abandoned as such, should be returned to nature.
No Re-zoning and prices capped:
Government may need to buy this land from owners of golf-courses who do not want it, and this is a major reason why this land should be excepted from rezoning possibilities. Overpopulation has already drastically overpriced land in Melbourne, even if it is not zoned for development. This makes it difficult and often impossible for local governments to purchase it in order to preserve natural space for Australians. This is why golf-course land and other relatively natural land must not be alienated from its low-use zoning. It must be taken out of the insane speculation cycle, for the thermodynamic reasons stated above as well as the social ones. Speculative gains are not a citizen’s by right.
Sports grounds and Playgrounds:
The ‘guidelines’ have also skewed the idea of open space with social, ecological, and environmental benefits to something always involving some infrastructure, such as ‘playgrounds’ and ‘sports grounds’. It is a form of regimentation as well as an unnecessary kind of capitalisation. As I have intimated, people can enjoy natural surroundings just by walking, and these places can provide habitat for our native animals. They already provide bio-links or wildlife corridors. Any further ‘development’ would reduce the size and viability of these bio-links, which should be increased and consolidated.
Hospitals, affordable Housing etc:
If we have to put hospitals on golf course land then we should realise that we have gone too far in our population and development paradigm. Unaffordable housing and homelessness have increased as Australia’s population has grown, especially from 2009 with massively increased its overseas immigration. Once again, unaffordable housing is a sign that we should interrupt our population and development juggernaut.
The Composition of the Planning Committee lacks diversity and disinterest.
There are no ordinary people on it who do not have deep involvement in the commercial property development industry. One of them was the secretary of population growth-lobbying APop from about 1999 to 2015. For this reason the Committee should not have the power to say whether or not a golf-course may be considered for development. A cross-section of ordinary people should be able to decide this on a case by case basis. Only after this, in the unlikely event that such a democratic cross-section felt that any golf-course could be let go for development, it might be passed on to the Committee for more technical assessment.
The documents for this golf course redevelopment proposal have rationalised the closure of golf-courses largely in monetary terms, especially noting that some were not making a profit. The proposal seems to have attempted no education of the public on the main reason why, which is that state- engineered population growth had raised the costs of land and water involved in running golf-courses, thus narrowing their profit margin, and making it tempting for them to cash their land in. It is also suggested that people are not playing golf as much as they used to. We are not told why this is, although the 2017 discussion paper suggested that ten new golf courses that established themselves as centrepieces of high-end residential developments in Melbourne, had added to an oversupply. The development industry runs VCAT planning; it authorised those developments. It should return that land to nature. Many other possible reasons present themselves – changing demographics, difficulty in travelling due to congestion, increased fees, subtle discouragement of golfing by owners wanting to speculate, overwork among the financial, and poverty among the unemployed. The point is, we should not allow the developers or the government to goad us into a situation where land-availability becomes so desperate that it must be constantly used and attract a high financial return.
Low standards in the development industry:
As for redevelopment and the construction industry: The cladding crisis has highlighted the long-known fact that our construction and development industry is largely incompetent, unaccountable, and uninsurable. With respect, it seems quite remarkable that the same industry thinks it should get golf course land or do any more building at all, let alone continue to be in charge of major decisions in Victorian planning.
This golf course redevelopment proposal is very important. It flags a major danger-point that we have reached, preparing to sacrifice something Australians have counted on – natural land. It shows what happens when a government engineers break-neck population growth and then puts property developers in charge of planning. All natural spaces are threatened. The fewer green spaces there are, the more their potential price for resale as developments increase. If you have planning outsourced to developers, as we do in Victoria (and all States) you will finish up with no green spaces, no birds, no native animals, and hugely priced high-rises.
Democracy and the pace of change:
The massive population-growth engineering that our governments/growth lobby are carrying out, with their push for infrastructure and housing, is breaking our democracy. The pace of change is undemocratic because it is impossible for people to effectively engage, let alone democratically participate, and this juggernaut has been set up by an industry that invests all its time in it for massive profit. There is no way that people with normal responsibilities can keep up with what is happening, even when they desperately want to. Elected members of parliament cannot keep up with this either. In Sleepers Wake, Barry Jones MP warned of the danger that we were heading to a time when government would outsource things it could not understand to a technocracy and that is part of what is happening here.
I personally had no desire to make a submission, but I feel I must, if only so people can read my reasons. Just reading the material provided by DELWP was enough to give me nightmares, because I know that DELWP has the bit between its teeth. The property development, infrastructure, and population growth lobby inside and outside of government is waging war on the rest of us in their quest for personal profit and power. The only difference is that they are using bulldozers instead of tanks.
 I am a population, environment and land-tenure systems sociologist. I completed a 143,000 word research thesis called The Growth Lobby and its Absence in 2002 on the difference between the Australian and French systems for housing, land production and policies on environment and population. Since then I have edited two editions of The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, 2005 and 2008, a book of articles by different scientists on the subject of the future of energy resources. I have also written two volumes of a planned four volume series entitled Demography, Territory, Law. The titles published so far are Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013, and Demography, Territory, Law2: Land-tenure and the origins of Capitalism in Britain, Countershock Press, 2015.
 “Notification was given via letter or email to all golf facilities, local governments, industry bodies such as Golf Victoria as well as all people and organisations who made a submission to the Planning for Golf in Victoria Discussion Paper released in 2017. For more information (and access to the 2017 discussion paper itself) on the Planning for Golf in Victoria process please click here. This process was also publicised on the Engage Victoria website.” Source: Personal correspondence with Michael C. Everett of DELWP. My criticism is that this notification went to local governments and industry bodies and boards in golf, who would not necessarily have passed it on, and who would probably not have looked at or communicated the wider impact of the loss of such spaces to all of Melbourne. Notification did not go to the wider population that will be impacted, or to wildlife networks, such as Birds Australia.
 Stamp duty income for the Victorian Government was $1.284b in 2001/2 and only 17 years later it was $6.933b in 2017/18. Source: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/land-transfer-duty-stamp-duty-statistics
 James Q Wilson in Wilson, J.Q., ed., The Politics of Regulation, Harper, New York, 1980,) classified four types of politics depending on whether the benefits and costs of policies were concentrated or diffuse, and he applied this model to immigration politics. In this way, mass immigration has become entrenched in systems where its benefits are narrowly focused but the costs that it imposes are diffuse (and therefore not easily identified by the public that is paying for them). Narrowly focused benefits mean that those benefiting from immigration are consciously aware of this and are able to recognise each other and organise to keep those benefits flowing. Where costs are diffuse and fall upon a disparate population at many different points in many different ways, they are difficult to identify and there are no obvious political rallying points for the public to organise a protest around. I used this methodology in my research thesis, Sheila Newman, The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France, 2002. https://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/file/a3115a39-c50a-4504-8d1f-4aca21be26fd/1/Sheila%20Newman%20Thesis.pdf
 “Planning for Golf in Victoria Discussion Paper (2017). https://engage.vic.gov.au/download_file/3592/907
 State of Australia’s Birds, 2015, Birdlife Australia, 2015; Threatened species recovery hub, National Environmental Science Program, https//www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/news/gimme-shelter-conserving-hollow-nesting-birds
 Tim Low, Where Song Began: Australia's Birds and How They Changed the World, Penguin, 2017.
 State of Australia’s Birds, 2015, p. 11.
 Excerpt from “In the end: Thermodynamics and the necessity of protecting the natural world, Chapter 23 in Sheila Newman (Eds), The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008. See most of the article below:
“Humans already use most of the land on the planet. In many places in the world the competition is between the land-poor and the land-rich. This is a political problem which needs to be solved without further trashing the natural environment. Some systems are more equitable than others and, as discussed in other articles in this volume, the Anglo-Celtic system used in most English speaking countries is worse than most. We humans have to share the land we already have more equally with each-other. If we insist on growing our population then the competition for land will be increasingly severe. We have already taken enough from other creatures and need to give some (a lot) back. Land for wildlife is not a luxury. The perception that it doesn't 'do' anything needs scientific countering with a thermodynamic explanation. That explanation is that Life is the only force that can reorder spent energy.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created but is never lost. However the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is transformed by use and that you can never make it how it was before. (You can't have your cake and eat it.) Industrial society provides a good example in biological energy (food) with the idea that a machine can make a sausage out of a pig, but it cannot make a pig out of a sausage. Once you have turned the pig into sausage for human consumption the energy in the sausage will never be pig again. It will be human waste. The passage of the cake or the pig into something less coherent is part of the usual flow of chemical and physical reactions in a process known as ‘entropy increase’ or a tendency to ‘disperse’.
Otherwise the planet and the atmosphere would be completely filled with sludge and debris. This is the way that ecology and the life-cycles that make up an eco-system are able to temporarily make order from disorder. Industrial manufacturing can grossly restructure dead things, but life is the only process that is able to do this efficiently, keep the process going, and reproduce itself.
Of course if you feed a pig a pork sausage, some of that sausage will become pig again. Most people would see, however, that converting a pig into a sausage through an energy intensive industrial process and then feeding the sausage back to a pig so that the sausage contributed to a miniscule portion of pig-flesh is a pretty inefficient way to make pigs. Nonetheless pork sausages and many other processed foods do find their way back to pigs' troughs. This is quite illustrative of the circular and needlessly wasteful (and cruel) cycles that occur in consumer-industrial societies.
Modern human societies are in fact quite different from those of pre-fossil-fuel human societies and those of other animals.
We modern humans no longer just produce animal waste that is 'biodegradable' in a normal ecological cycle. Through extractive technologies we have artificially extended our bodies and amplified our activities, so that we consume quite enormous quantities of material and energy. In the process of digging up the materials and burning the energy to make things with, we also clear almost every other living thing in our paths. The waste carbon, nitrogen, phosphates, sulphur and other products which our artificial system puts out largely overwhelm the services of the remaining (shrinking) natural eco-systems. Yet the natural eco-systems are the ONLY agents capable of saving us from being buried, suffocated and burned by the physical and chemical interactions of our industrial-society waste.
That is how the second law of thermodynamics can be used to explain why it is vital to allocate increasing space to natural processes. Returning land to wild grass and forests and giving animals their freedom to live naturally is the most positive thing that we humans can do about the accelerating rate of planetary entropy that consumer society multiplied by huge human populations is causing. Entropy comes in the form of increasingly unpredictable climate and in broken, dead and dying eco-systems. [...]”
 Geoff Underwood (who chaired the Victorian Planning System Committee 2011) was the Secretary of APop, (the Australian Population Institute) from 2000 to at least 2015. This was an organisation with the sole aim of vastly increasing Australia’s population, and almost entirely officiated by property developers who had the money and clout to aggressively promote this. Ordinary Australians had no ability to combat this organised input to policy and media. APop has largely been replaced by the Property Council of Australia, of which several government departments are members, and which, in 2009, announced to its members via a Powerpoint display that its number one aim was “More political influence.” It seems to have achieved this.
 See Anne Paton, of Victorian Building Action Group (VBAG) on the long history of bad building and its costs: https://youtu.be/zsyyVILjGpE. Also see Nerrida Pohl on cladding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFVNL8rV_ZQ .
“Since July 2002 there have been 54 separate reviews of the building industry, including by the Victorian Ombudsman and the State Auditor-General, all pointing to serious shortcomings and all calling for reform.” Clare Kermond, “When your dream becomes a nightmare,” The Age, August 16, 2015.
Melbourne lacks open green spaces. Unfinancial golf-courses should be returned to nature, to provide scarce habitat to our native animals and contact with nature for humans. These golf-courses often got by on the pretext that they would preserve open land, as a trade-off for more development. Melbourne is not just overdeveloped, it is overpopulated. Furthermore, our building industry is so incompetent that all its activities should be halted. Below you can read the nonsense being proposed by your government, as an excuse to give more land and free kicks to developers. It's a criminal economy that takes nature and destroys it just for more dollars for Australia's rich and greedy class. Submissions opened on 2 September 2019. Submissions can be made until 5.00pm on 30 September 2019. See example of a submission from Sheila Newman here: "Save 110 golf-courses for birds, not high-rises - Sociologist".
/Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee
Golf is one of Australia’s most popular organised
recreational activities. The sport is experiencing big changes in demand.
Overall, traditional golf club membership is in decline and clubs are facing
changing leisure patterns and increasing operating costs. Some golf clubs have
been forced to merge or close. This trend has drawn developer interest in golf
Recognising that golf course land, especially within
Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary may be considered for rezoning, the Victorian
Government seeks to ensure new proposals for redevelopment are assessed
according to consistent criteria outlined in a planning decision-making
Golf Course Redevelopment Standing Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee was appointed in August 2019 to
review and provide the Minister for Planning advice on draft Planning
Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment and advise on proposals for
redevelopment of golf course land within the Urban Growth Boundary of
The work and scope of the Advisory Committee is guided by
its Terms of Reference, which you can find in the Document Library on the
right-hand side of this page.
The Advisory Committee process will occur in two parts:
- Part 1 - Review and provide advice on the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment, which includes a decision making framework that will be used to assess proposals for the future redevelopment of surplus golf course land primarily within metropolitan Melbourne and advise how the guidelines can be given effect in the Victorian Planning System.
- Part 2 - Advise whether proposals that are referred to the Advisory Committee from the Minister for Planning (or delegate) for the rezoning of golf course land within the Urban Growth Boundary of metropolitan Melbourne, to facilitate redevelopment for urban purposes satisfy the planning guidelines and are consistent with state and local policy.
The Advisory Committee is currently in Part 1 of the process
and submissions on the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment
are open. You can find more information about the Advisory Committee process
below, including how to make a submission.
Advisory Committee members
The Advisory Committee is comprised of the following Members:
- Lester Townsend (Chair)
- Geoff Underwood (Deputy Chair)
- Michael Malouf
- Shelley McGuinness
- Gabby McMillan
Learn more about the members by reading their biographies.
Part 1 Standing Advisory Committee Process: Review of draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment
View the proposal – draft Planning Guidelines for Golf
The draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment (August 2019) prepared by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) can
be viewed here:
Stage 1 – Exhibition and submissions
You are invited to make a submission to the Advisory Committee on the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment. Submissions may address any matter relevant to the draft Planning Guidelines, including whether the draft Guidelines are supported or objected to or any recommended changes.
Submissions are invited over a 20 business day period.
Make your Submission
Submissions opened on 2 September 2019. Submissions can be made until 5.00pm on 30 September 2019 using the form below.
Please contact Planning Panels Victoria on 8392 5120 if you would like to make a hard-copy submission or have issues with this form.
A public briefing will be held at 10.00am on Thursday 12 September 2019 at Planning Panels Victoria, located on the Ground Floor (just past the security desk) at 1 Spring Street, Melbourne in Hearing Room 1.
The purpose of the briefing will be for DELWP to present an overview of the background and work done on the planning for Golf Strategy and the draft Planning Guidelines for Golf Course Redevelopment.
Stage 2 - Workshops
At the close of exhibition, the Advisory Committee will consider the submissions received and may conduct workshops or forums with submitters to explore issues or other matters. Any workshops or forums held will be public and could be with all or groups of submitters.
If workshops or forums are held these will be informal and will likely take place in the week beginning the 21 October 2019.
The Advisory Committee will advise if any workshops or forums are held and the dates and locations of these, shortly after the close of exhibition.
Stage 3 – Report
The Advisory Committee is required to submit its report to the Minister for Planning as soon as practicable but no later than 40 business days from the collection of submissions or 20 business days from the completion of workshop or forums.
Please note that your submission will be treated in accordance with the Privacy Collection Statement (which can be accessed through Document Library) which will include placing your submission on this website, providing it to other parties (the Proponent (if applicable), each relevant council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) and displaying it in the workshops or forums. Submissions may also be provided to other submitters upon request. You should not include any other personal information in the body of your submission, such as addresses, email and phone details, unless that information can be made publicly available. You can request access to your personal information held by the Department by contacting the Freedom of Information Unit on (03) 9637 8186 or [email protected]
Make your submission
"Your program and so many on the ABC ignore the real prospect of widespread social, economic and environmental breakdown consequent on a human population having exceeded the long term carrying capacity of Nature. The ABC in its general coverage assumes a continuation of Business as Usual. Climate change, if present trends continue leads to a world 3 – 4 degrees warmer at century’s end. (David Attenborough in his recent TV program on climate change used the figures 3 - 6 degrees.) Together with declines in soil quality, water availability, food shortages and massive biodiversity loss these things have many scientists foreshadowing an imminent reduction in the global human population and a world in chaos."
Your program re infrastructure on [16 August 2019] yesterday's 'Breakfast' program did a great disservice to your audience. It perpetuated myths not supported by facts and failed to mention the real alternative context in which matters like this must be considered.
As a former medical epidemiologist I am very familiar with statistical analysis. Among OECD industrialised countries there is no statistically significant correlation between rates of population growth and per capita growth of GDP. Among poor countries there is a significant and strong negative correlation between population growth and growth of per capita GDP. It is therefore misleading to claim that population growth is causing increases in per capita GDP, i.e. making the average Australian materially better off. This myth serves the interests of those who do benefit from population growth.
GDP and per capita GDP are themselves misleading indicators of real benefit. The costs, yes costs, borne by people as a consequence of growth of population and expenditure on infrastructure are added to GDP. Travel times are reported to have increased by 23% with increases in fuel costs, car maintenance, insurance etc. These are real costs but are added to GDP. The costs of a growing economy have exceeded the benefits for many years for ordinary people explaining why it is that so many feel worse off even while governments and programs like yours keep telling people they have never had it so good.
Your program and so many on the ABC ignore the real prospect of widespread social, economic and environmental breakdown consequent on a human population having exceeded the long term carrying capacity of Nature. The ABC in its general coverage assumes a continuation of Business as Usual. Climate change, if present trends continue leads to a world 3 – 4 degrees warmer at century’s end. (David Attenborough in his recent TV program on climate change used the figures 3 - 6 degrees.) Together with declines in soil quality, water availability, food shortages and massive biodiversity loss these things have many scientists foreshadowing an imminent reduction in the global human population and a world in chaos. Despite this evident danger every government in Australia and most around the world continue to make decisions based on an assumption of business as usual, that they can go on driving both population and economic growth, the two primary causes of our worsening situation. How do you reconcile that prospect with a continuation of unquestioned population growth in Australia. Climate change is likely to impact Australia's ability to grow food quite severely. We may have difficulty even feeding the present population let alone a much larger one before century's end.
Australia's ecological footprint has varied between 4 and 5.6 Earths over the last decade. Do you really think it morally right for us to go on increasing the total size of our demand on Nature by seeking both to increase our population and our per capita demand (growing GDP as our main goal)? I invite you to do the sums which show that we could achieve more human welfare by massively increasing our foreign aid and addressing that aid primarily toward education for girls, family planning and contraception than spend that some money on more infrastructure in Australia for the purpose of accommodating a much larger population.
Here is a much saner voice on the issue of infrastructure from a fellow journalist, Crispin Hull.
The marches yesterday were really impressive, but there is a way that school children could be many more times effective in carving out their future on these issues. Australian and State governments are pretty resistant against democratic protests, and anyhow, our governments at all levels don't have much of a clue about what to do about providing energy to our increasing populations. Schools and schoolchildren could exert much more pressure and constructive effort at a local level and we hope they will.
Teenage thoughts on marching
I am trying to imagine myself as a 15 year old back at school and trying to make my own decision regarding the Climate Change rally today, planned weeks in advance. How capable would I have been to assess the science on Climate Change? Actually, even now I don't think I can really independently assess the data. I understand that greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and are associated with higher temperatures. I understand that the world production of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGEs) is increasing and that they come from the burning of coal, oil, and wood or anything combustible and are mitigated by the process of photosynthesis performed by trees and in fact all plants including plankton in the sea. Thank you plants and trees!
In Melbourne we are reducing our tree cover hand over fist as we build over our gardened suburbs far more densely. We add more GGEs as we add more people, since they all use electricity, they all in one way or another use cars or other transport. They consume goods, the production of which causes GGEs.
So I imagine how I would respond to the choice of attending a large rally whose purpose is to send a message to our federal government seemingly thumbing its nose at concern over climate change. In my 15 years would I have noticed any changes personally? I read about melting ice at the poles, I see You-Tube videos of polar bears unable to hunt due to loss off their ice environment. I hear of terrible droughts and fires in Australia often attributed to climate change. My teachers appear to be in favour of students taking half a day off school to attend the rally. What do I do? The popular kids are all attending the rally. If I don't, how will I be seen? What will be the fallout? Whatever I do, will be public as far as my peers are concerned. I have to make a decision and make my first political statement.
People are talking about being "on the right side of history." Of course when my own children ask me what I did I will want to be on the right side of history. However, the issue is somewhat intangible, abstract and seems to rely on a leap of faith. I don't want to be called "climate change denier." That sounds very much on the wrong side of history! I need to be a "believer." A bit of self talk is needed. I feel passionately about the natural world and I see assaults on it every day even where I live. Climate change affects the natural world but the science is complex for me, I have to take it on faith and I don't feel comfortable with this. Despite my misgivings and insecurities, I'll have to go today and join my classmates. I'm taking a punt that I am on the "right side of history." My parents do not approve of my attending but have said it is up to me.
I'm ambivalent but I am going.
A schoolteacher's thoughts on marching
I am a schoolteacher, and I am on my way to the Climate Change march. I am also ambivalent.
What are the children going to be learning in their 'first political statement' based on righteous indignation and general demands? I'm afraid they are going to be learning their first lesson in their political impotence. Because, as an adult who has tried to stop over-population, over-development and habitat destruction in this city and this country, I know that the government and the press are entirely capable of ignoring indignation on the steps of parliament from multiple residents' action groups.
As a teacher, I also do not dare to question this approach to environmental concerns, because, if I do, I will become a pariah. However I will tell you what I think we should be doing:
Our schools should not be marching in the city. We should be marching, if we are going to march, to our respective local councils, with carefully thought out lists of demands. First, we should be asking our local councils to make laws against tree removal and habitat destruction. Next on our list would be to ask them to investigate and cost new alternative power options and local food production options. Our schools should then put their science and other teachers to work with the children to examine the logistics and possibilities of these new technologies in the field - locally. What better place for us to learn to be effective, and to engage politically on energy and production than in our own communities and biophysical environments? This would also open up local careers in alternative industry avenues in energy and resources and planning. Youth suicide rates would drop, since political engagement close to home is an antidote to feeling worthless and powerless.
How might we notify the community of our serious intent on these matters? School children should be turning up, with their teachers, to every attempt to remove a tree in their local community and stop it until it is carefully evaluated. Perhaps we could form tree councils with others in our localities in order to promote alternatives to moonscaping our neighbourhoods.
How long, I wonder, would it take before we all realised that there should be local limits to growth? That would put a spanner in the authoritarian regime of planning for population growth and development. Thereby, by combining local action all over the country, we would accomplish far more than any Paris climate change conference.
I guess that is why we are all marching instead.