We predicted this would happen when the Vic government put developers in charge of what happens to the many golfcourses in Melbourne and regional Victoria. The seizure of these green public and private lands is now being normalised on public media.
The following is an excerpt from the Guardian, 14/03/2022, pertaining to Premier Daniel Andrews. Andrews also suggested the “great Australian dream” of owning a home was less important to younger generations, especially given the increasing cost of property – the median price of a home in Melbourne is now $1.1m.
It is extremely frustrating and disappointing that the Government has used its numbers on the Committee to suppress this crucial inquiry into Victoria’s planning system and conveniently palm off embarrassing hearings until after the state election. It is obvious that this Government doesn’t want any verbal evidence, which would be heard by the press, presented to the inquiry in an election year because the evidence given will be a dire indictment on their leadership.
Report headlines: Heritage Protection Forum planned; Federal Election; The Committee that ate Melbourne (The Melbourne Committee); Wattle Park Heritage Submissions sought; Curtin Hotel; Kilmore Land Deal; Crowag Green Notices; South East Water Reservoir, Mt Eliza; Heritage Victoria Permit Application for 2022 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show; Ivanhoe Developer goes direct to Planning Minister; Queen Victoria Market; Big End of Town Complaints Department; High-rise A
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.
The draft Yarra Strategic Plan claims to deliver the first Victorian integrated river corridor strategy and to identify immediate actions for the river corridor, enabling long-term collaborative management between agencies and Traditional Owners. It is intended to guide local planning. We publish here a critical submission to this draft plan. Summary of submission by candobetter editor: Climate Change and human failure to interact safely with the natural world. Plan fails to adequately factor in transport interaction with Yarra. Lack of proper transport interconnectivity. Higher density depends on high quality public transport. Private car still dominates. Forecast population growth and new constructions will inevitably cause major environmental damage. North-East Link Freeway will comport massive land-fill problems, hardly referred to in Draft Plan. Likely potential for destabilisation of groundwater in the Yarra Valley in the Bulleen and Rosanna area as a consequence of the North-East Link Freeway project. Substantial areas of public open space is threatened by the project, together with about 25,000 mature canopy trees. Adverse human health effects of the project would include increased air pollution and heightened road noise. Lack of cycling provision on roads in cities of Boroondara, Banyule, Manningham and Maroondah and the Shires of Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges. Proposal in Plan to increase lanes capacity on the Eastern Freeway to cater for the North East Link project by over 40%, from 802,000 square metres to 1,127,000 square metres. Adverse environmental effects would include increased run-off of polluted stormwater into the Yarra River and elevated ambient temperatures as a consequence of the large increase in concrete and asphalt surfaces. Report of the Commissioner of Sustainability, State of the Yarra and its Parklands (2018), concluded that the status of the Yarra river was poor for 18 of its 25 environmental indicators. This can only deteriorate if planned stressors go ahead.
Submission on the Draft Yarra Strategic Plan
The draft Yarra Strategic Plan rightly identifies climate change as a threat to the Yarra River. In this regard, climate change is neither more or less than a register of the failure of the human species to interact properly with the natural world. COVID - 19 also falls into that category.
Transport and the Yarra
The draft Plan gives too little attention to the relationship between transport and the health of the Yarra. This is a major flaw. The functionality of large cities is decided more than anything else by the dominant modes of mobility deployed in them.
The draft Plan declares (p. 16) that the Department of Transport "plans, builds and operates an integrated, sustainable and safe transport system across Victoria. It does not, actually, as little effort is made to integrate the various modes. Within the public transport sphere in particular, insufficient effort is made to ensure the connectivity of the network.
Even more importantly, the concept of integrated transport and land use planning has pretty much been abandoned by the Victorian government, and has done so since Melbourne 2030, with the concept of the poly-centric city at its core, was all but forgotten.
The idea (p. 12) that higher density residential development should be the sole province of inner areas is flawed. There is significant demand for higher density residential development in locations well removed from inner Melbourne. The central problem is that the government has abandoned the key enabler of this, which is high quality public transport across the whole of Melbourne.
The reality is that the modal mix for personal travel in the City of Melbourne is little different from what it was 50 years ago. The private motor car dominates. And it is very space-inefficient.
The draft Plan anticipates that Melbourne's population will grow to nearly 8 million by the year 2051, and with an extra 140,000 dwellings to be built in the Yarra River corridor by 2041.
There are no grounds, within current policy settings, that these "milestones" would be reached without damaging the environment very seriously. The central issue is that the Victorian government does not have a transport plan for Melbourne.
North East Link
The Victorian government's North East Link freeway project is hardly referred to in the draft Plan. It should be. It was developed in the absence of any consideration by the government of other forms of transport, and especially public transport, which would have a relatively benign effect on the Yarra River corridor.
It is understood that the extensive tunnelling proposed for the project would require the excavation of about 1.5 cubic metres of rock and soil, which would go to landfill (see Timna Jacks and Benjamin Preiss, "Warning over toxic soil from 'big dig,'" Sunday Age, December 1, 2019). It is not known whether any of the material is toxic and there appears to be insufficient landfill capacity to take it.
There appears to be potential for destabilisation of groundwater in the Yarra Valley in the Bulleen and Rosanna area as a consequence of the project.
Substantial areas of public open space is threatened by the project, together with about 25,000 mature canopy trees.
Adverse human health effects of the project would include increased air pollution and heightened road noise.
Paved surface area
One of the dysfunctional elements of the dominance of the motor car is the increase in paved road surface that is required to cater for ever-growing motor vehicle numbers. For instance, it is proposed to increase lanes capacity on the Eastern Freeway to cater for the North East Link project by over 40%, from 802,000 square metres to 1,127,000 square metres. The adverse environmental effects would include increased run-off of polluted stormwater into the Yarra River and elevated ambient temperatures as a consequence of the large increase in concrete and asphalt surfaces.
Local government and transport
It is not only at state government level that we have major policy failure in transport. For instance, if one is to consider the land area of the City of Boroondara, it is comprised of about 6,022 hectares, of which 1279 hectares, over 20%, is comprised of road reservations. About 80% of the land devoted to road reservations is controlled by the City of Boroondara, with the balance controlled by VicRoads. The reservations controlled by Boroondara contain about 560 kilometres of local roads.
Significantly, very few of these roads have been developed to provide for safe cycling traffic. They are designed, with few exceptions, exclusively for motor car traffic. Apart from the City of Yarra, the other councils with a direct interest in this project (the cities of Banyule, Manningham and Maroondah and the Shires of Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges), also appear relatively uninterested in increasing the mode share of space-efficient, and therefore environmentally friendly forms of transport.
The Status Assessment contained in the report of the Commissioner of Sustainability, State of the Yarra and its Parklands (2018), concluded that the status of the river was poor for 18 of its 25 environmental indicators.
These measures will continue to deteriorate unless substantial reforms are made to transport capacity in Melbourne, and especially in the Yarra River corridor, to preference space-efficient and less carbon polluting transport modes.
29 March 2020
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.
At Frankston Council meeting on 29 January 2020, Cr Hampton sought by means of a Notice of Motion (NoM) to overturn council's decision of 14 Oct 2019 to adopt a revised Draft Green Wedge Management Plan. The NoM sought to investigate an excision of part of Frankston's Green Wedge for an expansion of the Carrum Downs Industrial Precinct. The NoM was voted down by Crs McCormack, Aitken, O'Connor, Toms and Mayor Mayer, (five of the nine). Cr Bolam abstained. [Ed. Note: A correction to this article on who voted it down was made on 30 January 2020.]
Frankston commentator Michele writes: "We could not have done this without wonderful Planning Backlash, WeCanDoBetter, Defenders of South East Green Wedge , Facebook posters, advisers and supporters, and speakers from Frankston Beach Association, South East Green Wedge, Frankston Environmental Friends Network and the community. Unknown numbers of people emailed councillors. Those opposing the NOM (Notice of Motion) with presentations had loud encouragement from the gallery."
Cr Hampton reportedly stated incorrectly that his NOM was increasing the minimum lot size in Rural Conservation Zone 1 and was not proposing a reduction in lot sizes elsewhere. He reportedly later apologised privately for getting it wrong, blaming Officer error.
The CEO assured councilors that tomorrow, without delay, the Management Plan would go to the Planning Minister for an amendment to the Planning Scheme to have the GWMP introduced as a reference document.
Michele concludes: "You are all so wonderful and inspiring in your fervor to protect our environmental values and not let vested interests always have the upper hand. The biggest thank you to all of you. Of course, the winner is the Green Wedge, its special values and features. Let's hope they endure and improve.
The late Barry Ross of S.E. Green Wedges must be smiling!"
"People have a right to a say in the character of their street, and their neighbourhood. The principle of subsidiarity, of devolving power to the lowest practical level, is important. It is indeed good for people’s mental health if they have a say, and bad for their mental health if they feel powerless. My Bill does two key things – it requires VCAT to follow properly made Council decisions, and it gives Councils, rather than Ministers, the last word on height controls. Hayes says, "At present VCAT is out of control. Its proper role is to ensure that Councils don’t act in an arbitrary or capricious fashion [...]. But VCAT behaves as a Planning Authority in its own right, telling Councils that although the Council wants a height limit of, say, 4 storeys, they think that 6 storeys would be better! Councils should be able to put in place mandatory height controls at a height acceptable to the community. The high rise buildings being approved by Planning Ministers are not in the best interests of residents, overshadowing them and turning Melbourne into a soulless concrete jungle. Communities should have a say in relation to height limits." (MP Clifford Hayes in speech to Protectors of Public Lands Vic. reproduced here.) (Photos by Jill Quirk)
“Protecting Open Space in 21st Century Melbourne” - Speech to Protectors of Public Lands Saturday 26 October 2019 by Clifford Hayes
Thank you for the invitation to speak with you this afternoon and thank you also for the opportunity to represent you in the Victorian Parliament. I am aware that it is a great honour.
I want to congratulate the Protectors of Public Lands on what you do. Protecting the public domain is very selfless, unselfish work. It is also often thankless and difficult work. They’re not making any more land, but we are making many more people, and the resulting clash over the uses to which land should be put are becoming more acute with every passing year.
And of course the increasing price of land in our suburbs has made open space immensely valuable in dollar terms, leading to landowners including Commonwealth and State Governments looking to sell it off and make a real estate killing. Yet the population growth that drives the escalating land price also makes open space more valuable than ever AS open space – keeping our city and suburbs cool, giving us public places to walk, meet or rest, helping our mental health.
Just a fortnight ago the journalist Noel Towell reported in The Age that the State Labor Government is poised to massively ramp up its sales of publicly owned Crown land around Victoria, with more than 2600 hectares set to go under the hammer.
About 150 sites in Melbourne and country Victoria are listed as on the market for future land sales in a sell off that dwarfs the 533 hectares sold in the past 10 years.
Last week I asked a Question without Notice in the Legislative Council about this Report as follows – “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?”
I am well aware that people in this room have spent a lot of time trying to stop the State Government selling off public land, often involving Government agencies offering the land to Councils at inflated prices that amount to duress, and a scam, where the public is being expected to pay for land that we already own. The Minister’s reply was polite, but not very encouraging. That is why your work is so important, keeping Governments and their Departments and agencies honest.
I see the clash over using land for public open space, or for other uses – which are often in themselves good and socially beneficial, such as facilities for women’s sport – played out time and time again in my Electorate. I have the good fortune to represent a significant area of beautiful Port Phillip Bay beachfront, and that is an area of great conflict. We have proposals to add a large restaurant to the Brighton Life Saving Club as part of its redevelopment. We have a proposal from a café lessee to take over and develop an area where public toilets are located at North Point. We have proposals to extend the opening hours for a café/restaurant at Ricketts Point.
Each of these proposals can sound reasonable, and many of us like to eat or drink by the beach or foreshore, but their sum total is to kill off the connection with nature that is the very thing that makes the beach attractive in the first place – to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Unfortunately – and I think your late Secretary and driving force, Julianne Bell, grasped this with great clarity – there is hardly a blade of grass or grain of sand that isn’t being eyed off by someone who wants to make a dollar out of it or appropriate it for their own benefit. It’s not just in my part of the world – I know of the battle, for example, in historic Footscray Park, where the well connected Melbourne Victory soccer club is seeking to establish a large stadium in parkland close to the Maribrynong River. And of the Warrnambool Racing Club’s appropriation of the beaches between Warrnambool and Port Fairy to train racehorses, to the detriment of other beach users, particularly the endangered Hooded Plover.
Often when land is appropriated and vegetation bulldozed elaborate promises are made about offsets elsewhere. In my experience these undertakings are seldom honoured. For example 10 years ago when a previous State Labor Government expanded Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to allow for massive development in Melbourne’s west it said developers would have to pay a habitat protection levy which would enable the purchase of areas of grassland which would offset the development. 10 years later it has emerged that at the present rate of progress it will take the Victorian Government 100 years to purchase the amount of grassland it promised to protect at the time!
And just last week it introduced a Bill to amend the levy. For starters I am disappointed to read that the Habitat Compensation fee system is being renamed the Environment Mitigation Levy. It is the loss of habitat that is the core issue here, and we should never lose sight of it. I am also troubled to learn that property developers are talking about how well the Government has consulted with them over this Bill, when I don’t think it has been consulting with environment groups at all!
In my first speech to Parliament in February I set out my vision for Melbourne – to make it a great place to live, not merely a great place in population size to rival such places as Shanghai, New York, London, or Sao Paolo. Such greatness would be mere obesity, with all the disadvantages of such.
Not a city or a state where people are crammed into dogbox apartments, living on crowded and congested streets in an environmentally unfriendly concrete heat island, but a spacious city with open skies, open and tree-filled streets, with gardens.
Unfortunately this is not the direction in which Melbourne is headed. Since Australia’s migration programme was turbocharged and effectively trebled some 15 years ago, Melbourne has been growing at a rate of over 100,000 people each year, and is now growing at around 130,000 people each year. This has had numerous adverse impacts on our quality of life – traffic congestion, housing unaffordability, loss of vegetation, wildlife and open space. One of the consequences of Melbourne’s rapid population growth has been an attack on local democracy. Residents have lost their right to a say in the character of their street, their neighbourhood and their community.
Consistent with my election commitments I moved a Private Members Motion in May, aimed at restoring local democracy in planning issues and curbing the power of the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The Motion called on the Government to give more power to local councils to defend their communities from inappropriate developments.
In particular it called on the Government to amend the Planning & Environment Act so that VCAT was required to give effect to local planning policies, rather than just taking planning schemes into account. It also called on the Minister for Planning to implement mandatory height controls, rather than discretionary height controls, where Councils sought them.
I was delighted that this motion was passed in the Legislative Council with the support of the Liberal opposition and my crossbench colleagues. It is very unusual for a Motion to pass in either House without the Government’s support.
I believe there is a real mood for change in the community to fix a planning scheme which is biased against local residents and skewed in favour of property developers. I am now preparing amendments to the Planning & Environment Act which would give legal effect to the sentiments in my Private Member’s Motion. I believe these amendments would help restore the balance and give local residents a genuine say in planning decisions. I am encouraging residents and community groups to support my campaign for greater local democracy in the Planning & Environment Act.
People have a right to a say in the character of their street, and their neighbourhood. The principle of subsidiarity, of devolving power to the lowest practical level, is important. It is indeed good for people’s mental health if they have a say, and bad for their mental health if they feel powerless.
• The Bill does two key things – it requires VCAT to follow properly made Council decisions, and it gives Councils, rather than Ministers, the last word on height controls.
• At present VCAT is out of control. Its proper role is to ensure that Councils don’t act in an arbitrary or capricious fashion, for example by allowing one person to build four units on their property, and refusing to allow a next door neighbour with the same size property to do the same. But VCAT behaves as a Planning Authority in its own right, telling Councils that although the Council wants a height limit of, say, 4 storeys, they think that 6 storeys would be better!
Councils should be able to put in place mandatory height controls at a height acceptable to the community. The high rise buildings being approved by Planning Ministers are not in the best interests of residents, overshadowing them and turning Melbourne into a soulless concrete jungle. Communities should have a say in relation to height limits.
That said, I am absolutely aware that giving Councils more power is not a silver bullet, and that Councils can and do make poor decisions.
• It is not true that people who oppose high rise are NIMBYs, or that they favour urban sprawl. They don’t want the high rise forced in ANYONE’s backyard. What the State Government needs to examine is the premise that Melbourne has to keep increasing by 130,000 people each year. That’s the issue that people are never given a say about.
• Melbourne’s rapid population growth, combined with enforced urban consolidation, has resulted in a paving over of open space and a loss of vegetation and wildlife, when in times of climate change we need our vegetation, front yards and back yards. Urban consolidation has turned suburbs into heat islands. Population growth has driven traffic congestion and road rage. It has driven housing unaffordability and homelessness, and population growth has driven the construction of high rise buildings which are full of defects and even unsafe.
• Property developers have done well out of this government sponsored building boom of the past 15 years, but ordinary residents have not. Their quality of life has declined, and it will continue to decline unless legislation like this puts power back in the hands of ordinary people.
A study in December 2017 found that high-rise living had adverse impacts on mental health. It found that sharing semi-public spaces with strangers can make residents more suspicious and fearful of crime. Many feel an absence of community, despite living alongside tens or even hundreds of other people.
There is a fear of isolation. During ongoing research into social isolation among older people in the English city of Leeds, residents of high-rise buildings reported feeling lonely and isolated – some were afraid to even open their front doors.
Many advocates of high density living claim that it is better for the environment and climate change than suburban sprawl. Studies have shown this to be not the case. One 3 year US study in 2017 found that living in a high-rise tower in Chicago was much less environmentally sustainable than moving to a house in the suburbs. Apartment dwellers consume more energy, spend more of their time travelling, and use their cars more.
In terms of embodied energy in construction high-rise fared even worse. The project found that high-rise buildings required 49% more embodied energy to construct per square metre, and a stunning 72% more on a per person basis.
As has been noted before, the most energy efficient building is the one that already exists. Unfortunately State Governments have paid way too little attention to this and have made it far too easy to demolish existing houses, even those of heritage significance.
The idea that high density apartments, which require more lighting and air conditioning, are more sustainable than detached houses, which can have solar panels, rainwater tanks, and front yards and back yards with trees, shade and open space, is contradicted by the evidence.
So what needs to change? In my view, it’s not complicated. Two words - local democracy. Give the local residents the power in relation to planning. The Planning and Environment Act 1987 was supposed to establish a framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria in the present and long-term interests of all Victorians. It is my contention that it has been changed by successive governments so that it does not achieve those objectives.
The bill I will present seeks to do this in two ways. First by directing planning authorities and VCAT to consider and give effect to local planning policies which have been approved by the Government. Secondly by allowing Municipal Councils to set real height limits, including mandatory controls, which cannot be undermined by either State Government or VCAT.
Under my bill the Minister for Planning will be required to accept Council proposals for mandatory height limits, rather than arbitrarily raise the limits or make them discretionary and therefore worthless, as he does at present.
The bill will also make VCAT consider Strategic Planning Policies developed by Councils. What’s more, it will instruct VCAT to give effect to such local planning policies as expressed in the Local Planning Policy Framework.
I encourage your members to contact your local Members of Parliament by phone, email, letter, or in person, to encourage them to vote for the Bill. And on Sunday 10 November, in the week before my Bill gets debated in the Legislative Council, there will be a Rally at the Elsternwick Plaza, next to Elsternwick Station, at 2pm. I encourage you to attend, and bring others!
My bill is a modest proposal that is intended to start the process of giving back planning controls to local communities through their elected councils.
I hope it will not only be a shot in the arm for local democracy and genuine community say, I hope it will act as a brake on rampant habitat destruction. The key driver of habitat destruction is population growth. Sadly environment groups seem to lack the courage to stand up and say this. One honourable exception I came across recently was Jeff Davis, Assistant Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat at a June 2019 meeting of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, who said “Population Growth is the Top Challenge for Conserving Habitat”.
He was followed by a Task Force Member G.I. James, who works with the Lummi Nation’s Natural Resources Division, who was prepared to tell a few home truths about the threat to the orcas –
“We’re worried about the population that’s going to be here in the next 25 years and we can’t even address the problems that are being created by the people who are here right now. We think we can have it all. We can have the roads, we can have our cars, we can have our businesses and we can still have those natural resources that depend on the very same things all that destroys”.
Indeed. I thank the Protectors of Public Lands for everything you have done, and are doing, to protect the quality of life in Melbourne from overdevelopment. It is often hard, unrewarding work, but it is very important in maintaining our quality of life, and not allowing it to quietly slip away.
I hope you can join my fight for a better, not bigger, Australia, and I and my office are always ready to assist you in any way we can.
Clifford Hayes, MLC,
Sustainable Australia Party
Southern Metropolitan Region.
Direct: (03) 9530 8399 | 0458 750 700
Business Address: 206 Bay Street, Brighton
“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.
It is important to hear policies from key MPs before the election. Thanks to Prof Michael Buxton, we have a large lecture hall in Swanston Street, on the west side, called RMIT Building 80, and we have room 7 on the ground floor. Take note - it is 3 weeks today - lets fill the hall. (Mary Drost, Planning Backlash).
State Election Forum
Several Ministers and Shadow Ministers have been invited to present their key policies. You can ask questions about what is important to you
SUNDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2018
RMIT Building 80
445 Swanston Street, Melbourne
"Until a few days ago, traffic travelling towards the beach on Seaford Rd in Seaford and turning right down railway parade would only back up in the worst of peak times. But several days ago the light sequence was changed, now it is almost permanently backed-up for several hundred metres, up on to the bridge over the freeway. [...] People in the local community are suggesting that the light sequences are deliberately being changed to cause jams so as to justify level crossing works. Certainly there is something suspicious about an intersection which rarely backed up several days ago and now is almost unusable."
26 Feb 2018
Until a few days ago, traffic travelling towards the beach on Seaford Rd in Seaford and turning right down railway parade would only back up in the worst of peak times. But several days ago the light sequence was changed, now it is almost permanently backed-up for several hundred metres, up on to the bridge over the freeway.
Last Sunday I sat, in little traffic, through three sets of light sequence changes, each one letting maybe two cars through, before I gave up on turning and went straight ahead. This has never happened before in my almost 20 years of living in Seaford and travelling down this road.
People in the local community are suggesting that the light sequences are deliberately being changed to cause jams so as to justify level crossing works. Certainly there is something suspicious about an intersection which rarely backed up several days ago and now is almost unusable. The last several times I have used this intersection in a beach-ward direction (I use the intersection nearly every day, sometimes several times a day) I have either given up on turning and gone straight ahead, or completely turned around and driven into Frankston and over the bridge on Wells Rd, before driving back to Seaford through back streets on the other side of the railway line.
Whilst this change is deliberate for some unexplained reason and with consultation that I am aware of - I must also note that in general the levels of traffic through Seaford have dramatically increased over the past 10 years or so - over the same period that people have been selling backyards of family homes which are then developed so as to gradually double the suburb's population - a phenomenon I attribute to
1) the ridiculously high mortgages people face putting them under pressure to sell their backyards; and
2) Uncontrolled population growth.
About the two problems above it is clear that governments cannot, or do not want to, address these. But at least the light sequence is something that should be able to be fixed, and will soon start effecting traffic flows throughout Seaford and Frankston, it certainly is changing my driving behaviour.
Add up all the neglected costs of downsizing and retirees have good reason to be wary of making the move. It’s time to debunk the myth of zero housing costs in retirement if we want to understand why retirees resist downsizing. Retirees have at least five reasons to be wary of the costs of downsizing. [Article first published at https://theconversation.com/downsizing-cost-trap-awaits-retirees-five-reasons-to-be-wary-80895 on 31 July 2017.]
Retirees living in middle-ring suburbs face frequent calls to downsize into apartments to free up larger allotments in these suburbs for redevelopment. Retirees who fail to downsize into smaller units and apartments are viewed as being a greedy, baby-boomer elite, stealing financial security from younger generations.
It also makes sense to policymakers for retirees to move into less spacious accommodation and make way for high-density housing. Housing think-tank AHURI fosters this view. Yet seniors remain resistant to moving, in part because of the ongoing costs they would face.
The concept of zero housing costs in retirement is based on a 1940s view of a well-maintained, single dwelling on a single allotment of land where the mortgage has been paid off. This concept is incompatible with medium- and high-density housing and refusing to acknowledge ongoing housing costs may cause significant poverty for retirees.
Reason 1 – upfront moving costs are high
When a house is sold the owner receives the sale funds minus the real estate and legal fees. When the same person then buys a different property to live in, they pay legal fees plus stamp duty.
For cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, these costs are likely to exceed A$70,000.
These high transfer costs may mean it is not cost-effective for the person to move.
Reason 2 – levies are high
Because apartment owners pay body corporate levies, people often assume this is just the same as periodic payment of rates, water, insurance and other costs. It is not.
Fees remissions for low-income retirees for rates, power, insurance and water are difficult to apply within a body corporate environment. As a consequence, these are usually not applied to owners of apartments.
The costs of maintaining essential services, such as mandatory fire-alarm testing, yearly engineering certification, lift and air-conditioning inspections, significantly increase ownership costs.
When additional services are supplied, such as swimming pools, gyms and rooftop gardens, these also require periodic inspections. Garbage collection, cleaning, gardening, concierge and strata management services also must be paid.
Owners of standard suburban homes choose whether they want these services, with those on fixed incomes going without them.
Annual levies for apartment buildings vary, but expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000. They may be more than this.
Reason 3 – costs of maintenance
Apartments are often sold as a maintenance-free solution for older people. The maintenance is not free. It needs to be paid for.
Maintenance costs are higher in an apartment than a standard suburban home because there are more items and services to be maintained and fixed. Lifts and air conditioning need periodic servicing and fixing. This is in addition to the mandatory inspections listed above.
Reason 4 – loss of financial security
It is a mistaken belief that the maintenance costs that form part of the body corporate fee include periodic property upgrades. This relates to items that are owned collectively with other apartment owners.
Major servicing at the ten-year mark and usually each five-to-seven years after that include painting, floor-covering replacement, and lift and air-conditioning repair or replacement.
Major upgrades may also include garden redesign or other external building enhancement including environmental upgrades. All owners share these upgrade costs.
Costs of upgrading the inside of an apartment (a bathroom disability upgrade, for example) are additional again.
Once the body corporate committee members pledge funds towards an upgrade, all owners are required to raise their share of the funds, whether they can afford it or not. Communal choice outweighs an individual owner’s need to delay upgrade costs.
Owners who buy apartments that are part of a body corporate effectively lose control of their future financial decisions.
Reason 5 – loss of security of tenure
Loss of security of tenure is usually associated with renters. However, the recent introduction of termination legislation in New South Wales gives other owners the right to vote to terminate a strata title scheme. When this occurs, all owners, including reluctant owners of apartments within that scheme, are compelled to sell.
There are valid reasons why termination legislation is desirable, as many older apartment complexes are reaching the end of their useful life.
Even so, as termination legislation is rolled out across the states, owner- occupiers effectively lose control of how long they will own a property for. They no longer have security of tenure, which means retirees may face an uncertain housing future in their old age.
Further reading: Why strata law shake-up won’t deliver cheaper housing
Downsizing raises poverty risks
Because current data sets do not adequately take account of ongoing costs associated with apartment living, the effect of downsizing on individual households is masked.
Downsizing retirees into the apartment sector creates ongoing financial stress for older people. Creating tax incentives to move does not tackle these ongoing costs.
Centrelink payments for of $404 per week are well below the poverty line. Yet we expect retirees to willingly downsize and to be able to cede most of their Centrelink payments to cover high body corporate costs.
Requiring retirees to downsize for the greater urban good will shift poverty onto retirees who could barely manage in their previously owned standard suburban home.
Failing to understand the effect of high ongoing costs associated with apartment living and reinforcing the myth of zero housing costs in retirement will continue to lead to poor policy outcomes.
The Victorian Liberals have been running public population forums for their "Victorian Population Policy Taskforce." Please read on to get an idea of what is involved and how you might use these forums for good, despite their cynical nature. The article includes a list of the forums still to be held at time of writing this article. As you would expect, the people comprising the Taskforce include some heavy hitters from the extreme growth lobby and, really only one person who has questioned population growth policy - Dr Bob Birrell. We can be sure that the Liberal politicians and other growth lobby activists behind the forums are pushing for extreme population growth to continue despite its awful consequences, just as the Victorian Labor Government is. The purpose of the forums is to manufacture consent by pretending that current immigration numbers cannot be stopped or reduced, however bleak their impact. The message is put in pseudo solidarity as, "Yes, we feel your pain, we wish we could do something, but we cannot." This throws the audiences into a state of helplessness. However, the forums do present the possibility of people who actually know the facts and are concerned about citizens, residents' rights and wildlife needs, to reach the wide spectrum of people who come to the forums and point to the way out of the false dilemma. Those audiences are dying to hear that the political parties (in and out of government) have the capacity to stop the massive population growth and that Australians should and must resist it. Consider taking copies of The Residents' Bill of Rights, which proposes that Australian growth be brought in line with the OECD average. Consider printing out this recent Population Flyer and taking copies. You might also consider taking a copy of recently retired Labor MP Kelvin Thomson's 14 point plan, which is a viable and well-informed plan to stabilise Australia's population. Inside this article there are also recent ABS and OECD graphs and a population doubling time calculator.
Most of the people comprising the "Victorian Population Policy Taskforce" are obviously from the fox side of the henhouse. The only 'community activist' is known for her opposition to speaking out on population growth. Jane Nathan, is the president of The Australian Population Institute (APOP), which was formed solely to promote a big population for Australia. Asher Judah is a Property Council of Victoria executive and a research fellow with the very right-wing Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) with a background that includes the Master Builders Association and the Victorian Farmers Federation. David Matthews is known for his involvement in agribusiness and banking. Jason Potts is a fan of immigration tariffs and an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. Peter Tesdorpf is a former Victorian President of the Planning Institute and is Principal at Peter Tesdorpf and Associates. Joanna Stanley of Brunswick Residents Group has been associated with Planning Backlash and has this description at Linked In "Particularly accomplished in media and stakeholder relations in planning and issues in community." Recently Joanna has been outspoken against any push against population growth that BRAG and Planning Backlash have put up for consideration. The taskforce's advisors also include Bob Birrell, Sociologist and President of The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI), a conservationist and not a fan of big Australia.
The Rosebud Population Taskforce Forum
I went to one of these forums with some curiosity. I've been having nightmares ever since. The gloves are really off in the growth lobby. As an ex-planner said to me, "They're not even trying to hide the fact that they are forcing a huge population on us anymore." The forum was, however, a bit better than I expected, in some ways. One way was that more than half the time was given to responses from the audience, with good access to microphones and little prescriptiveness on what we said. But very few in the audience seemed to have any idea of what was happening. Most looked grim or horrified.
A good thing was that the contribution of immigration was admitted. In fact the rate of Victoria's population growth was described with due horror by 'keynote speaker', the politician, Tim Smith MP for Kew. The effect this would have on the Mornington Peninsular was evoked as likely to be frightening and unpleasant. (See the OECD graph where Australia ranks highest in population growth of all OECD countries.)
State websites solicit for immigrants; it's not just the Federal Government
I spoke of the state government websites inviting immigration and of how this was off-the-scale population engineering by the state. As usual, this statement caused some surprise because of the mantra that the state can do nothing because the Federal Government sets immigration numbers. (As if the states couldn't object, anyhow.) The Liberal Taskforce say they want to promote decentralisation by creating small cities all over the countryside, including the Mornington Peninsula. But Victoria already offers 'Skilled Regional (489) visas', which require the sponsored immigrant and any sponsored dependents to live and work in regional Victoria whilst under this visa, which was, in fact, introduced by Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett in 1998.
Forum treated our massive rates of immigration as if they could not be questioned
A bad thing about this forum was that the huge population growth due to mass immigration was presented as a given, with only 'management' solutions contemplated by the speakers. It was as if Victoria's population growth of 2.1% (actually 2.4% according to latest ABS figures to 2016 - see graphs) was as inexplicable and irresistible as an invisible gas, wafting over our borders, something about which no-one could do anything but submit as it wrecked the landscape, drove up housing prices, and congested the roads, jostling the inhabitants and competing for police attendance and scarce places in their schools and hospitals.
A good thing was that other people and myself were able to criticise this unnecessary acceptance of massive population growth without anyone trying to shut them up.
I also said how people concerned about wildlife could not accept this growth in light of how there was absolutely no serious provision of wildlife corridors and crossings so that, at the moment, it spells huge loss of habitat and cruelty, with animals pushed from their habitats onto roads or shot by hobby farmers, with the uncritical permission of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DWELP.), which is supposed to protect wildlife.
Russell Joseph, Liberal Candidate for Nepean, who introduced the speaker and made some comments himself, responded to my raising the problem of wildlife by saying that Landcare and Port Philip Westernport Catchment Management Authority were attempting to make corridors, 'but that was, of course, a long term project', he added.
But wildlife are in crisis on the Peninsular due to the patchwork of intensifications, roads, and kangaroo fences. It is an emergency, the animals are running out of habitat and the situation is about to get much much worse if population growth continues, let alone accelerates. This is not something that can be solved in some far away time.
Aging population furphy
Jenny Warfe, Secretary of Sustainable Population Victoria and Tasmania (SPAVicTas), reminded keynote speaker Tim Smith that when John Howard presided over 80,000 migrant intake p.a. Australia was pretty prosperous. Under John Howard, net planned economic overseas immigrants went from about 80,000 to more than 250,000 and 300,000 due to changes Howard made. An implication was that Australia's GDP per capita has fallen as our population intake rate has increased.
Responding to some of the usual scaremongering about Australia's aging population, Ms Warfe described the ageing issue as a furphy, explaining that bringing more migrants will not help stem the ageing “time bomb” so often described. She observed that migrants age like the rest of us, so more migration only serves to eventually produce more and more ageing people. She added that stabilising the population would eventually solve the ageing “crisis” as the age bar chart/demographic, currently with the bulge towards the ageing end, would even out. There were some murmurs of agreement in the audience.
Employment and business costs
The problem of high unemployment on the Peninsula was alluded to by the speakers, and I responded by talking about how population growth inflates cost of resources as well as housing and rents. Business not only needs to pay for these itself, but it must also pay wages sufficient for its employees to afford housing, heating, etc. This makes Australian business uncompetitive with most overseas business (including, for comparison, that of continental Europe) due to our very high costs in land, housing, energy etc. See "Land and Rent Costs to Business make Australia uncompetitive".
Calculating Population Doubling Rates
The keynote speaker, Tim Smith,  had declared some pride in the Liberal Party's aiming for a policy to manage population that would take us all the way up to 2050. This led me to ask him if he was aware of the population doubling times of a population with Victoria's rate of 2.1% growth (actually 2.4 according to ABS 2016 figures.  He seemed to struggle with the concept itself and then admitted that he did not know. He asked me to tell him. I thought I detected some shock among the 70 people or so in the audience as well as, possibly, the speaker, when I said that at 2.1% growth Victoria's population would take about 35 yrs (in fact it would take 33.3). I added that population growth is being engineered upwards in most states, by soliciting mass economic immigration, so one had to take into consideration growth rates for the whole country.
I suggested that, rather than be proud that they were looking ahead to 2050, the Libs should be worried at the shortsightedness of their policy; they need to look much further ahead at the doubling rate consequences. They are preparing for a Victoria of 10m in 2050, but it would be 20m in 2080 or even sooner, still growing and much harder to stop.
The response was to ask for my details so they could contact me later. A person among the organisers later told me that 'between you and me' quite a few of the people involved on the task force would be quite pleased to have people attend the forums and talk about how to stop the population growth. It seemed that, for this person, the very idea was novel.
One small-time developer got up and said how none of the farms on the Mornington Peninsula (where the event was being held) made profits, intimating that something should replace them. And that we have to suck up population growth. He added that there was some attempt to make a wildlife crossing over Boneo Road, as if that would somehow compensate for the massive increases in traffic and loss of habitat.
Another man got up and gave examples of several farming operations which made good profits and employed lots of people.
Very few people from the audience spoke to support population growth.
People have been hypnotised into not questioning the whole growth thing. Most of them don't want the growth and only accept a search for management solutions because they think growth is inevitable. Many will be responsive to the concept that it is not.
Many of the people conducting these forums and most people attending these forums are unaware of what is driving population growth. They also have not considered population inertia and doubling rates. Giving them this information can only empower them.
People don't realise that the states dictate to the Feds on numbers. It is hard to know if politicians like Tim Smith are really so in the dark, but some may be. However Tim Smith should now be aware of https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/, (formerly http://liveinvictoria.org.au/) because of what I said at the forum and later forwarded by email. Days later I ran into another Victorian MP associated with the Taskforce forums and when I mentioned that Victoria touts for immigrants and told her how, she shouted at me that I was 'bullshitting' her.
Here are the ones still to come.
Monday 14 August
Frankston Mechanics Hall
1A Plowman Pl, Frankston VIC 3199
Contact: Ms Inga Peulich (03) 9772 1366
Friday 11 August 2017
Convenor: Ms Steph Ryan MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 5762 1600
EASTERN METROPOLITAN – IVANHOE AND ELTHAM
Monday 14 August 2017, 10am – 12pm
Convenor: The Hon. Richard Dalla Riva MLC
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9803 0592
SOUTH EASTERN METROPOLITAN
Monday 14 August 2017, 6pm – 8pm
Convenor: Ms Inga Peulich MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9772 1366
Tuesday 15 August 2017
Convenor: Ms Georgie Crozier MLC
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 9555 4101
Wednesday 16 August 2017
Convenor: Mr Brian Paynter MP
Contact: [email protected] or phone 03 5672 4755
 Despite Tim's simple and somewhat naive presentation, his background would suggest more sophistication. Tim Smith's occupation prior to becoming a Member of Parliament for Kew electorate in Victoria, is listed as: Senior Consultant (Office of the Chief Executive Officer), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Consultant (Strategy and Operations) Deloitte. Assistant Adviser to The Hon. Bruce Billson MHR. Assistant Adviser to The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MHR, Leader of the Opposition. Electorate Officer for The Hon. Michael O'Brien MLA, Shadow Minister for Gaming and Consumer Affairs. Researcher for The Rt Hon David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary (UK). He has a BA, MIntPol (Melb)and his other mentioned qualification is "Hansard Research Scholars Program (London School of Economics)." http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/members/details/1743-mr-timothy-smith.
 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2016 at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/3101.0
 How Victoria touts for immigration: The site https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/ (until recently called https://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au) presents videos to attract immigrants to Victoria. It makes no mention of the terrible problems that rapid and voluminous population growth are causing the state and which are the subject of harangs by State Premiers and the opposition (as in the Liberal Population Taskforce). "Some visas require you to have nomination from a state or territory government, or sponsorship from an eligible relative. The Victorian Government offers visa nomination to selected overseas skilled workers and business people with skill-sets and business acumen required in Victoria." These visas are https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/migrate/skilled-migration-visas/skilled-nominated-visa-subclass-190 for 'Skilled nominated visas' [until recently: "Skilled Nominated (190) visa"] and https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/skilled-visas/skilled-regional-visa-subclass-489 (for skilled visas and skilled regional visa subclass 489). [Formerly called: http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/visas-and-immigrating/skilled-visas/skilled-regional-visa-subclass-489] The site, https://https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au [formerly https://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au] is a Victorian Government site and carries the Victorian Government logo.
Do you ever wonder what our society would look like if everyday people were calling the shots? If everyday people had more influence rather than a few privileged rich and large corporations? Would we have sold our public utilities? Would the centre of Melbourne look less like Manhattan; have less poorly constructed and dangerous residential towers? Would citizens be forced into selling off the backyards of family homes to pay their outrageous mortgages? Would we ever have allowed negative gearing and its looming financial tsunami?
Well we might not be able to go back in time, but citizens may have good ideas of how to fix this mess and minimise the damage of past decisions. What planning decisions should be made now? What planning proposals should be stopped or allowed now? This article presents an idea for citizens to form their own representative decision making bodies, and if we wish we can see how real democratic decision making compares with our current donation driven party based system.
All you need to start a democratic process in your own area is just 5 people. From this it can grow to include up to 2 million people. The system proposed below would be extremely difficult to corrupt. It is a system that truly allows 'rule by the people' as it consists of everyday people, not career politicians.
It would allow communities to make and express their own decisions. For example, as to whether a particular planning proposal should be allowed or not.
If you are interested read on.
Purposes of the Proposal
The proposed 'alternative' system may serve the following two main purposes:
1. Offer an alternative decision making forum where communities could make their own decisions in contrast to (or perhaps support of) the current official structures. Kind of like a community 'Shadow Parliament'.
2. Provide a community decision making framework that could be transitioned to if needed in an emergency situation.
It is intended that this system should also model a possible feasible replacement for our current representative democracy should communities ever hold a constitution convention. As mentioned above, it can start with a very small group of volunteer participants, but it is designed to be 'scalable' should it get more popular.
Here is the basic idea:
That parliaments should be formed of people selected for duty in the same way people are selected for juries. No political parties, no donations needed or allowed. No political campaigning by representatives.
So here is how it would start:
All citizens over 18 years of age (defined as permanent residents of Australia - i.e living here for 2 years or more with an intention to stay at least 3 more years - verified by sworn witnesses and affidavit – the system is not linked to any current Australian authorities) are able to voluntarily register themselves on the Parliamentary roll. Once registered the parliamentary representatives are selected at random from the roll/list. The number of representatives is determined by a combination of the number of registered enrolments and discretion of the existing representatives.
The initial parliament cannot consist of less than 5 people. Parliaments must increase this number as the roll grows, annually adding (on May 1st) at least one other representative for each additional 10,000 people enrolled (to be selected by the random selection process which is described below). Once the number of registrations reaches 1,000,000 people the parliament must consist of no less than 100 representatives. If the number of registrations exceeds 2,000,000 the parliament must be split along geographical lines into two or more smaller parliaments within 2 years (otherwise the parliament is dissolved). In such cases the number of fractures and the borders are to be decided by the original parliament. Each fracture inherits all the passed Acts of the original parliament. No parliament can be subordinate to any other, although they can possibly create subordinate authorities - but as you will see in the next paragraph, they cannot do this off their own initiative.
Representatives can propose no new legislation. But any enrolled citizen who is not a member of parliament can compose and put a bill to the parliament for them to pass into law (or not), or place amendments for existing laws. The parliament can appoint a panel (consisting of any citizens) to assess whether laws are well prepared or not, the panel can reject poorly formed laws, or recommend them for improvement, but the citizen always has the right to place his or her bill before the full parliament. If such as request is made the enrolled citizen's bill must be included on the list of bills to be considered by the parliament within 3 months of the placement request being lodged (i.e lodged with the parliamentary secretary or his representatives - details below).
Thus if any area has at least 5 willing volunteers, they can compose such a parliament. Thus once formed, and as others enrol, this parliament can accept various planning proposals and make their rulings almost immediately. They maintain legitimacy by increasing the number of representatives as the enrolment grows as described in the next paragraph.
If there are only 5 members on the roll at the time of foundation, they are automatically all selected as representatives, in which role they stay until the 3rd passing of May 1 after they assumed office (i.e a maximum of 3 years), or until they resign, die or are otherwise incapacitated. Once they have completed any period of office they are ineligible to be selected for the parliament for at least three subsequent years from the date of completion, but must be added to the role within 5 years of completing their term or partial term.
Each initial parliament can determine its own boundaries of authority provided no existing community parliament already claims coverage of that geographic area. Under the rules no new parliament can initially claim an area that contains more than 1,500,000 people who are eligible to enrol. Parliaments can vote to merge or break up as they please within the rules. Parliaments can pass acts that include agreements with other parliaments or sovereign bodies, but no such act can ever reduce or remove the sovereignty of the enrolled citizens or it is invalid. Citizens of parliaments can lodge a dispute. If the number of enrolled citizens is greater than 100 a dispute can only be lodged if it is signed as approved by 9 other citizens. Disputes between parliaments or citizens and parliaments are to be decided by a citizen jury consisting of at least 3 and up to 12 people (must be 12 if the jury roll allows for 12). In these cases, the parliament(s) involved in the dispute can draw from citizens on the roll of other parliaments or can initiate the construction of a roll specifically for the purposes of solving the dispute (which would essentially rely on volunteers from other areas). The citizen jury roll should be comprised of volunteers (the call for which can be advertised by the parliamentary secretary or his or her nominated representative). The roll can include any citizen from outside the areas of authority involved in the dispute, as long as those citizens are over 18 years and have not been residents of the areas involved in the dispute for at least the last 10 years. All volunteers of sound mind must be added to the jury roll. Jurors are selected by lot by a selection panel which can be composed of any 3 enrolled citizens. The jury must be selected within 3 months of the dispute being lodged with all affected parties. If parliaments are disputing each other, the parliament lodging the dispute must organise the jury. The selected jury must provide each party in the dispute with the jury's selected process for reaching a decision within the first month following their selection. All jury decisions (i.e including on process) must be passed by a simple majority. A jury's decision can be appealed once, in which case the entire process must be repeated with another citizen jury. The parties to dispute must be notified within 7 days of a jury's decision being reached, appeals must be lodged within 14 days of a decision. The jury must provide each party to the dispute with two copies of their decision transcript signed by all jurors. The transcript must include minutes of all decisions made by the jury. The minutes must include the voting majority for each decision on process and the outcomes of the dispute. A jury must provide its final decision to all the parliaments/citizens involved in the dispute within 3 months of its selection. The jury decision must obeyed by the parliament.
How it works
Here are some details clarifying the above:
1. To propose legislation, a citizen must be on the roll. Once the number of registered citizens on the roll exceeds 10,000, citizens require the signature of 9 other enrolled citizens (who are not selected representatives in parliament) to propose legislation. Any revisions also require the signatures of all 10. Bills must be presented to the secretary or his nominated representative. They are marked as received on that date and time and must be added to the list of bills to considered by parliament.
2. If the number of people on roll is exactly 5, these 5 can form a parliament -see Point 9) below. If there are more than 5 on the roll, the selection of representatives is to be done by a panel of any three people who are not on the roll. Any random analogue device can used eg: die rolls. These three people on the selection panel must not have any family relationship that is less than 4 times removed (eg: 3rd cousins are out).
3. Legislation cannot be retrospective. Acts can be repealed retrospectively if appropriate legislation is introduced in the parliament following the process in 1) above. Thus 'bad' laws can be undone as if they never existed.
4. The selection panel must provide four copies listing the elected representatives and the date and time of the selection: one to the secretary and one to his or her second (once they are appointed) and one to each of two randomly selected members of the parliament. If there are disputes regarding the creation of a parliament these are to be resolved using the inter-parliamentary dispute mechanism described above. All four copies must be signed by all members of the selection panel. The secretary or his or her second or nominated representative must honour at least the first request to see his or her copy received after 9.00 am on Monday of each week. If the secretary or the second resigns, dies or is incapacitated the parliament must select another secretary or second from its ranks at its next meeting. If the secretary position becomes vacant from any of these circumstances, the second assumes the role of the secretary until the next parliamentary meeting.
5. Other selected representatives who are not given a copy of the list, must produce their own copy which is to be verified as accurate with the signatures of no less than 4 of any of the other elected representatives.
6. Legislation that is approved by parliament must be signed by all voting representatives. No less than 80% of representatives must be present for legislation to be passed. The proposer must provide three copies. One copy is kept by the parliamentary secretary (selected from among the ranks of the representatives - item 7 below - the term of the secretary and his second is one year). The other two copies are to be kept by the citizen who initiated the legislation. All three copies are to be signed by all representatives who voted, and also a list of current representatives at the time the legislation was passed is to be provided to the citizen who proposed the legislation. This list is to be signed by no less than 5 representatives. In effect, it is up to citizens to ensure copies of the act are retained, if no copies signed as above can be produced on request within 30 days of a such a request (i.e by the end of the 30th day including the day the request was lodged) by the parliament or another citizen, the act is null and void. The parliamentary secretary can and must produce his copy if is in existence and is requested, as must the citizen who proposed the law, but in each case only the first request for a particular law received each week, as of 9.00 am each Monday, is required to be honoured. New copies can be made on request by any citizen, with no one requesting a copy more frequently than every 5 years, and no more than 5 copies of the same Act being provided in total each calendar year. Copies are to be validated in the same way as the passing of original legislation, i.e signed by all members present when the request was presented to parliament by the secretary, which must be at the first meeting following the request, and a certificate of representatives as of the date of voting also provided signed by 5 representatives. The secretary can nominate one or more representatives (assistants) from anyone on the roll (i.e these could be representatives) with the clear written consent of the nominees. This must be treated in the same way as introducing a bill into parliament. Such a bill must be passed.
7. Parliament can sit to a schedule of its own devising, but must ensure a rate of voting on legislation that allows for at least 100 bills to be voted on each year. Any bills that have not been voted on within 3 months of being lodged with the secretary, his second or representatives, must be placed in a prioritised list in order of introduction. Bills can be reintroduced if voted against, in such cases they are treated as new bills. Once selected, on their first sitting, parliament must make arrangements for a secretary and his second. This can be voluntary or through a process of nomination, or some other process determined by parliament. No one can be secretary for two years in a row, no one can be second for three years in a row. The secretary must take responsibility for the storage of all laws passed, current, future and past and the provision and making of copies for citizens as required above and at his or her discretion in other cases (i.e to replace decaying laws, or to make backup copies).
8. If a member of the parliament dies, resigns or is incapacitated, then a new member must be appointed within 3 months. A member who does not attend parliamentary meetings for 12 months, other than for reasons of poor health, must also be replaced. All new appointments should follow the process in 2) above. Members may resign in writing only, resignation must be provided to the secretary, his second or a representative. Resignation takes place immediately upon receipt.
9. The role is maintained by the secretary, his or her second or a nominated representative. Any 5 or more people forming an initial parliament can appoint a secretary and a second from their members using whatever process they wish. The minutes must record this. Minutes must be dated and signed by all 5 or more members with the time of the meeting conclusion recorded. The parliament is recognised and authorised from this point on.
10. Once a Parliament is formed under this constitution, the constitution cannot be modified. The constitution must be noted as “Community Parliamentary Constitution” in either the minutes of the initial formation of the first parliament, or on the list of selected parliamentary representatives by the first selection panel. Once formed no other “Community Parliaments” can be later formed or recognised for the same geographic area. If a particular Community Parliament with at least 100 representatives and 1000 enrolments should pass an Act affirming the sovereignty of the Community Parliament formed under this constitution, the Parliament shall be recognised as the only sovereign authority for those enrolled and their descendants. This allows for a natural transition in times of emergency or should a peoples’ constitutional convention endorse this constitution.
11. All documents must be hard copies. Signatures provided on hard copy documents must be made in person and in the presence of at least one witness. No digital signatures are to be recognised under this constitution.
Why the limit on 2,000,000 people?
For a parliament to be really responsive to the community it must share the concerns of the community and it must understand the unique features of the community. It might be difficult for example, for a very urban population to appreciate the problems faced in rural populations. This could create unnecessary tension in the parliament and slow down, or prevent the passing of, good decisions. For organisation required over larger areas and between areas, there is always the possibility of setting up agreements between parliaments, eg: for defense. But having small jurisdictions has other benefits. For example, a financial collapse is less likely to be as extensive if each area is managing its own banking (with perhaps a shared currency, or perhaps not. There are critics of 'legal tender' money, and perhaps a return to silver and gold based currencies will prevent the massive printing of money - and debt - that we have been experiencing over the past 150 years).
Localness has the additional benefit of low costs, as selected members can stay living in their local communities (i.e in their own homes) and travel to parliamentary meetings is likely to be much less onerous than travel to a distant capital.
For further arguments in favour of smaller communities please see Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered by E.F. Schumacher and related ideas at the Schumacher Institute
In late 2015, in a great twist of irony, one of the people responsible for the proliferation of high rise dog boxes across Melbourne – former planning Minister (now Opposition Leader) Matthew Guy – had a Damascus moment and questioned the merits of high immigration into Melbourne: Article first published at Macrobusiness.
“I think there has got to be a genuine community, business and governance discussion about how we really focus on building the population of our regions, because I am very, very sure that the four-and-a-half million people of Melbourne think … our city is bursting,” Mr Guy said. “Can you imagine it with another million people on top of this, as it will be within 15 years time?”
Then in May 2016, Guy went even further claiming that “managing population growth is Victoria’s biggest challenge”:
Every year Victoria’s population grows by the size of a packed MCG… and 92 per cent of them are headed towards Melbourne.
So it is no wonder that strained and congested infrastructure is something Victorians experience every day…
Our roads are clogged, our trains are full and we can’t get inside trams let alone find a seat on one.
Managing the growth of our population is the biggest challenge Victoria faces today…
Then in November 2016, Guy returned claiming that almost doubling Melbourne’s population to 8 million is unsustainable and calling for population growth to be shifted to the regions:
All of Melbourne’s problems are intrinsically linked to this [population] growth, and it requires a government of vision and purpose to adequately respond to these challenges for the sake of us all… Our vision for Victoria is a state of cities, not a city state…
For too long, governments have ignored decentralisation… An effective decentralisation agenda is crucial to underpinning our desire to improve Melbourne’s liveability and economic growth of the regions…
Then in February, Victoria’s Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader (Population Policy and Housing Affordability), Tim Smith, again warned that Melbourne’s population growth is unsustainable and called for growth to be diverted to the regions:
The vastness of Melbourne is something to behold and the centralising of Victoria’s population continues as 92 per cent of new arrivals to Victoria stay in the capital.
Victoria is growing by one person every five minutes, more than 100,000 a year… We have seldom seen population growth like it… Victoria’s present growth dwarfs the population booms of the 1850s and 1960s, and is contributing towards an infrastructure crisis characterised by severe road congestion, overcrowded public transport, schools bursting at the seams and a scarcity in the residential house market that is taking home ownership out of reach of many young Melburnians…
Melbourne is nowhere near as liveable as it was… Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s vision is to decentralise Victoria and develop its regional cities, to take the pressure off Melbourne and grow country Victoria… The state desperately needs a government that is committed to decreasing the percentage of newcomers who make their home in Melbourne… We want to see more people commuting to Melbourne from regional Victoria — we can’t have a Melbourne that expands forever… An effective decentralisation agenda is key to improving capital city liveability and the economic wellbeing of the regions.
This month, the Liberal candidate for Brighton, James Newbury, penned an article in The Age warning that the Labor Government’s planning reforms will wreck the suburbs and reiterated the call for Victoria’s population growth to be shifted to the regions:
Your home, as they say, is your castle. That’s why for most of us, our suburb is a bit like our local village… Our villages are getting more cramped, they are getting taller, and finding parking has become a daily chore…
In recent weeks – with little fanfare – the Andrews government slipped through a so-called “refresh” of planning laws, which encourages increased densification. Under the changes there will be less new housing built in Melbourne’s outer growth areas, and more built within 20 minutes of the city.
The densification strategy is Andrews’ solution to Victoria’s population doubling over the next 30 years. To cope with the strain of that intense population growth, the government intends to allow more development on each piece of land, by scrapping the two residences on a neighbourhood block rule…
The only way to keep the character of our suburbs, preserve our neighbourhoods, and cater for intense population growth, is to expand Melbourne, develop satellite hubs, and attract people towards regional centres.
As a lifelong Melbournian, I too have watched in disbelief as Melbourne’s population has expanded at a frantic rate, growing by a whopping one million people (27%) in the 12 years to June 2016:
Anyone that has lived in Greater Melbourne over this period will agree that living standards are being eroded. Roads and public transport have been crush-loaded and housing has become hideously expensive.
The situation is set to deteriorate further if Melbourne’s population grows as projected by the State Government. According to these projections, Melbourne will add on average 97,000 people per year (1,870 people per week) for the next 35 years – adding the equivalent of around 9 Canberras or 2.5 Adelaides to the city’s population:
While the State Liberal Party’s concerns are justified, how realistic is their solution to decentralise? The key driver of Melbourne’s projected population growth is the federal government’s mass immigration program:
And to date, migrants have always chosen to settle in the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney, rather than the regions:
Decentralisation has been on Australia’s political agenda for around 100 years without success (other than the creation of Canberra). So what makes the Victorian Liberals believe they can magically turn the situation around?
Short of locating government departments to the regions, what can the State Government realistically do?
And what good is decentralisation if all it means is that ‘urban sprawl’ is replaced by ‘regional sprawl’ as the regions simply become commuter towns for Melbourne? Or, to put it another way, regional dormitory suburbs are created instead of fringe suburbs?
Rather than accepting mass immigration as a fait accompli, the State Liberal Party should instead lobby their federal counterparts to establish a national population policy that reduces immigration and does away with a ‘Big Australia’ on the grounds that is is placing undue strain on infrastructure and housing, and is reducing living standards of incumbent residents.
Victoria’s politicians should also lobby for a greater share of tax revenues on the grounds that they are incurring the lion’s share of the costs from immigration, in the form of providing expensive infrastructure and social services.
To the Liberal Party’s credit, they have at least recognised that Melbourne’s population growth is both unsustainable and unwanted. But they need to look at the root cause – excessive levels of immigration – and seek to bring it back down to sensible and sustainable levels.
For its part, the Labor Government needs to open its eyes. Few Melbournians want a city of 8 million people. The one we have already is barely functioning properly at 4.6 million.
Successive Victorian governments too closely aligned with property development and investment have inflicted continuous rapid population growth on Victorians. This has had a terrible effect on democratic rights to object and protect property and the environment, built and wild. It has seemed that no power could hold the government up to any effective criticism. The Victorian Auditor General has tabled the following reports. We have included an extract from the report which shows a democratic deficit in the public review process. This report may be of use to population and environment activists and they should publicise it.
Effectiveness of the Environmental Effects Statement Process
|Tabled: 22 March 2017|
Land use planning and development are important for meeting the changing needs of the growing population. An environmental impact assessment is a tool used to predict the environmental, social and economic effects of a proposed development at an early stage in project planning and design. The assessment aims to find ways to reduce negative impacts, and shape projects to suit the local environment.
In Victoria, assessments of the environmental impact of proposed development projects are conducted through the Environmental Effects Statement process under the Environment Effects Act
In this audit, the Victorian Auditor General examined if the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is managing the Environment Effects Statement process effectively.
It makes eight recommendations for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Candobetter.net has included below the video the observations and recommendations on the hearing processes in public reviews. They will be very interesting for groups like Planning Backlash and Protectors of Public Lands, whose members have so often complained of how difficult and unfair the process of objecting to constant damaging development has become.
An extract from the full report shows democratic deficit in the public review process
Access the Report
The OpenAustralia Foundation, the charity that runs a more accessible Hansard, has made an announcement about the progress of its Planning Alerts service. This is a free and community commons service. It gives citizens some ability to keep up with what the developers and mum and dad subdividers are up to. This, in turn, will give ordinary citizens and residents more insight into the impact of population growth, more information to make political decisions, and more control over its rapid creep.
PlanningAlerts makes it easy to impact what happens to your local buildings, parks, streets, and infrastructure. Over the last 7 years almost 40,000 people have signed up for alerts and thousands of you have made official comments on development applications for everyone to see.
But there are more ways to impact what gets built and knocked down. There are people at the council whose job is to understand their community and advocate for people like you who care about it. These people are your local councillors and they work for you.
If you want to help shape how your community changes then these are great people to talk to. They can make sure you’re heard at council meetings, find and request information for you, help you organise locals around the issues that matter, and much more. These are powerful ways to have a direct impact—but working with your councillors hasn’t been part of PlanningAlerts … until now.
Start a conversation
You can now easily ask your local councillors about a development application you care about in PlanningAlerts. This is a new feature that we’ve worked hard to make as simple as possible for you.
People living in over 70 council areas around Australia will now see an option to write to their local councillors in PlanningAlerts. Since we switched this feature on, dozens of people have used it and councillors from across Australia have responded.
Lots of people do currently write to local councillors about planning, but these conversations all happen in private.
In PlanningAlerts the full exchange is public. You can share and discuss what is (or isn’t) said, and hold the people you’ve elected responsible for their action. Everyone can benefit from your questions and the work councillors do to respond. People who’ve never taken the step to make contact themselves can see how easy it is and how helpful councillors can be.
A handful of brilliant volunteers have collected councillors’ contact details for 70 of the 150 councils in PlanningAlerts (thank you Pip, Daniel and Katska!). Let us know if your council is missing and we’ll prioritise making this new feature available to you. If you’d like to help collect local councillor information, please contact us—we’d love your help to make this available to everyone.
Now it’s time to put your councillors to work for you through PlanningAlerts.
Thanks for your support
The PlanningAlerts Team,
Since 2002 when Melbourne 2030 was quietly introduced by the Bracks’ government (which was intended to be a 30 year plan for Melbourne to make it a more compact city) there have been another 1 million people in Melbourne and 16 new plans introduced in 14 years. The latest is “Plan Melbourne Refresh,” very quickly followed by “Managing Residential Development,” which is a review of the Reformed Residential Zones. You would think that our planners could come up with a long term plan but obviously they are responding to different agendas set by developers. Planning Backlash invites you and your members to a public forum to voice your concerns about the way development is happening in Melbourne. To be held in the Parkview Room, Camberwell Civic Centre, 340 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Sunday 29th May 2016, 2.30 PM.
Dear Friends all,
This is an invitation to a Forum that is long overdue and this time it will be in the Camberwell Civic Centre on Sunday 29th May at 2.30 pm. Please pass this around to the members of your group, we must pack the hall to show the government we are seriously fed up. And it will be free. We will not be asking you for money as Boroondara Residents Action Group offered to finance it for us – thanks BRAG. Come and have your say. Oh by the way I did invite the Minister but he declined. - I look forward to seeing you then.
Are you and your members 'mad as hell' about development in your area?
It seems that every time there is a change of government there is a change of planning strategies, and rarely are these changes for the benefit of residents.
Mostly they are for the benefit of developers, the construction industry and investors but our concerns are virtually ignored, Frustrating isn’t it?
Since 2002 when Melbourne 2030 was quietly introduced by the Bracks’ government (which was intended to be a 30 year plan for Melbourne to make it a more compact city) there have been another 1 million people in Melbourne and 16 new plans introduced in 14 years. The latest is “Plan Melbourne Refresh,” very quickly followed by “Managing Residential Development,” which is a review of the Reformed Residential Zones. You would think that our planners could come up with a long term plan but obviously they are responding to different agendas set by developers.
The time has come for all of us residents to take a stand and loudly shout out, “We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any more.”*
We need to respond to the pressures applied by the development industry, aided of course by 'political donations' made to gain favoured treatment.
Do you want to have some real input into development in your neighbourhood? Well here’s your chance.
Venue: To be held in the Parkview Room, Camberwell Civic Centre, 340 Camberwell Road, Camberwell. Car park at the rear in Inglesby Road.
Date: Sunday 29th May 2016, 2.30 PM.
Planning Backlash and B.R.A.G.
This event is an initiative of Planning Backlash and is sponsored by the Boroondara Residents’ Action Group (BRAG).
*The quote “we’re are as mad as hell” comes from the film Network in which actor Peter Finch lets out his frustrations and urges his viewers to open their windows and shout out, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”.
by Craig Thomson, wildlife carer
Whittling away of green wedge in Frankston threatens wildlife
As a wildlife rescuer I am expressing my concerns that of the rezoning of 42 hectares from the green wedge at Stotts Lane. These concerns are for the welfare of the local wildlife and the added pressure placed on voluntary wildlife groups who have provided the Frankston city council a free service for over 25 years.
Habitat clearance is the greatest threat that faces our wildlife today and the land in question would further deplete what was a significant bio-link between the listed RAMSAR Seaford wetlands and the listed RAMSAR Westernport wetlands.
This land is an important habitat corridor for Koalas. Every spring male koalas migrate from Cranbourne Botanical gardens to mate with the female population that lives in Frankston South. Since the opening of Peninsula link there has been two male koalas killed on the freeway, and if this vital link was lost the South Frankston Koala population would be locally extinct in a number of years.
With the continual loss of habitat in this area especially due to the new freeway, and with very little to no offsets found in the city of Frankston. There is increased competition for habitat amongst wildlife, and as such more vulnerable species such as sugar gliders and woodland birds especially the likes of the eastern yellow robin will also become locally extinct.
With the loss of habitat and increased volume of traffic and increased number of domestic animals for such housing on green wedge land, local wildlife shelters are faced with a number of problems:
1 An increase of wildlife that needs care
2 Less habitat to release rehabilitated wildlife
1 We need to find more volunteers to help run our shelters
2 We need find more funds to rehabilitate and feed wildlife
3 If we are unable to meet those needs we have limit our services which obviously causes stress to both us and the community member we are unable to help.
4. If we are unable to find suitable habitat to release wildlife we have to look at other areas for releasing wildlife reducing genetic viability and biodiversity of an area.
Secretary Animalia Wildlife Shelter
PO Box 4002 Frankston Heights
NB: Stotts Lane was part of the Mornington Peninsula Shire. There has also been a lot of work on this as well by Barry Ross and the Frankston Environmental Friends Network. This story has massive implications for the green wedges of Melbourne and of course the future survival of Koalas in sth Frankston. This issue should become the focal point of it instead of a housing development and benefit a greedy developer who lives in Toorak.
The site forms part of the Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge and lies outside the UGB. Frankston City Council’s Environment Department have concerns about changes to the UGB (urban growth boundary) generally, and more specifically in the Stotts Lane area because of potential impacts on a habitat link along the Peninsula Link corridor.
Coincidently, Planning Minister recently claimed that Melbourne has 25 years for more housing expansion, at the expense of native habitats, food bowls and wildlife.
“We now have a complete picture for Victoria. It’s clear that there is plenty of land for future development and plans to maintain supply. It is critical that we continue to identify land to drive industry, jobs and housing growth in regional centres,” Mr Guy said.
Perhaps our Premier and Planning minister Matthew Guy should spend a day rescuing wildlife hit on the roads, feeding them and trying to do the unenviable task of finding land to release native animals being squeezed off their territories by predatory urbanisation!
There will be a public forum a Kuringai Town Hall to discuss the problem of overdevelopment, overpopulation, and the crushing of democracy in its wake TODAY. Sunday 7 April 3:00 pm to 5:30 Where: ku-ring-Gai Town Hall, 1186 Pacific Hwy, Pymble.
If you care about the future of NSW, you are urged to come to the forum, understand the full impact of the proposed changes, and voice their concerns.
The proposed legislation will grossly favour developers over ordinary people and, significantly, over local councils. We are appalled that Barry O'Farrell is set break his promise to the people of NSW, because, when he was campaigning for government, he criticised Part 3A and promised that his government would "bring planning back to the people". The proposed legislation makes Part 3A look mild in comparison.
When: Sunday 7 April 3:00 pm to 5:30 Where: ku-ring-Gai Town Hall, 1186 Pacific Hwy, Pymble.
Speakers: David Shoebridge, Greens MLC; James Ryan, Nature Conservation Council; Corinne Fisher, Better Planning Network.
Please contact as many friends as you can - our voice needs to be loud and clear.
Is the Department of Planning in the Victorian State government vital to our lives or is it just part of endless population growth ? The Planning Department operates with a seemingly remarkable ignorance of the realities of resource (especially oil) depletion, some apprehension of climate change, scant reference to the environment, and no mention of creatures other than humans. Something funny's going on.
A friend and I recently were discussing disconsolately the current Victorian State Minister for Planning’s zone reforms and the department’s Metro Planning document "Melbourne, Let’s talk about the future." The purpose of both seem to be to facilitate more development, to make life easier for developers and to remove obstacles. I maintained that the more development that is allowed, the more disruptive the activities will be and the less certainty residents of Melbourne will have of the continuing amenity of their surroundings. Au contraire, they will live with the certainty that their amenity will decline.
My friend tends not to be rebellious but, like a lot of people, can see that there are powers behind the scenes at work in our lives. She came out very firmly saying, “Well you’ve got to have planning, other wise you will end up with a hotch-potch of development." The more adamant she was about this, the more I wondered if what she said was indeed true.
Planning in its current form seems to be all about accommodating population growth. It is about more and more human activities, buildings, roads, bridges houses. But does planning need to be exclusively about more of us and more of what we do, continually modifying our natural environment and pushing out other species?
Planning without growth
What would our Department of Planning do if growth was slow or non existent? Would the planning Department be able to justify its existence? What sort of changes would then need to be planned for? There could be changes in the age structure of the population which might require different services. But are these the domain of the planning department? Couldn’t the Department of Human Services take care of this? Then there are changes to the types of energy sources that must be provided. Energy is privatized in Victoria but the Department of Primary industry now has the role of overseeing energy distribution and invests in new technologies (according to its website).
Because of past and present population growth, Victoria and all of Australia is way behind with infrastructure provision, so the Planning Department could put their minds to this and, for the first time in our lives, we might be adequately provided for in this respect. Or could an ‘Infrastructure department” take care of that? With a stable or near stable population, houses would still need to be built for a time as there are not enough roofs to cover the heads of the current population. Could the Planning department focus on that? Or would housing be best in the hands of the Department of Human Services? It is after all a basic human need. It would not make a terribly impressive glossy coloured document, but the homeless would be impressed.
With rapid population growth as we have suffered for the last decade, which of the State government ministers gets the most press attention? I think it is the Planning Minster. This attention is not a compliment to him nor to his predecessor though. They both hit the news because development decisions are controversial and permanent in nature with a few winners and many more losers.
With a stable or very slowly growing population, planning would no longer be “famous” as it is now in Victoria. Would it even be necessary as a separate entity?
Those in power need to look to the future because they make decisions that endure long term. The Planning department seems to respond to the greed and desires of the growth lobby by facilitating growth. With superficial buzzwords and motherhood statements in the document “Melbourne, let’s talk about the future,” the Planning department foreshadows a real shock for residents of regional towns such as Geelong and Ballarat. With the mantra, “Planning for regional city growth is vital,” the Department glibly writes off our future hope of livability by embracing growth like an adored relative and with a seemingly remarkable ignorance of the realities of resource (especially oil) depletion, some apprehension of climate change, scant reference to the environment, and no mention of creatures other than humans.
Sheila Newman has just published new theory in a new book, Demography, Territory & Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations (see link). Forensic biologist, Hans Brunner writes of it: "This book takes us to a completely new paradigm in multiple species population science. It shows how little we understand, and how much we need to know, of the sexual reactions when closed colonies with an orderly reproduction system are destroyed, be it people or animals." Two chapters are on multi-species demography, the rest apply the theory to non-industrial societies and the author comes up with a completely new test for the collapse model of Easter Island, which will stun those who thought they knew all about it.
“You’ve got to have Planning” (with a capital P)?
Let’s try life without it.
Over the next 40 years, Melbourne's is to be projected, or force-fed, to grow geographically and in population.
The discussion paper is how to plan for that growth and miraculously at the same time “ensuring our city remains one of the most diverse, distinctive and liveable cities in the world”. The “discussion” is not about democratically deciding whether we want the growth or not, but propaganda that endorses the benefits of growth, and how to implement it. It's a long term vision, of continuous growth- whether we want it or not!
Melbourne, Let's Talk about the Future, Oct 2012
Over the next 40 years, Melbourne's is to be projected, or force-fed, to grow geographically and in population.
The discussion paper is how to plan for that growth and miraculously at the same time “ensuring our city remains one of the most diverse, distinctive and liveable cities in the world”. The “discussion” is not about democratically deciding whether we want the growth or not, but propaganda that endorses the benefits of growth, and how to implement it. It's a long term vision, of continuous growth- whether we want it or not!
The Victorian government wants conversation with the community on how to respond to population growth, economic challenges and profound demographic changes that will be socially engineered through record high levels of immigration – and “natural” growth. On one hand we are fortunate that our culture is not one that endorses large families, or the growth of tribes. Our population growth rate is a government-based, an economic model, one that can easily be addressed – politically.
Benefit of growth
This discussion is about people’s quality of life. It is also about finding new ways to share the “benefits of growth and investment, and the responsibilities of delivering these benefits”. It doesn't actually say what the “benefits” of growth will be – other than for businesses and the property industries. While the growth-based economic model has served us well in the past, but is no longer appropriate in a planet, a nation, of diminishing and finite resources.
While accommodating this growth, we are suppose to have “choices about where
we live and work, how we travel to and from work and what we do in our leisure time – these are all influenced by how we plan and manage the growth of our city”. On the contrary, the greater our population grows, the less choices we have about where we live, housing alternatives, how we travel, our leisure time, and the costs of living. Living in the more “affordable” fringe areas of Melbourne means having a income per year of at least 70,000, but this means being denied public transport, and more reliance on cars.
We face many challenges and choices if Melburnians are to continue to share the benefits of growth and development..... Urban renewal can have many positive effects. It can replenished housing stock and improve quality; it can increase density and reduce sprawl; it can deliver economic benefits and improve the global economic competitiveness of a city’s centre. It may improve social opportunities, and it may also improve safety through passive surveillance.
Planning for our future is not about the abstract – it is about people’s quality of life. It is also about finding new ways to share the benefits of growth and investment, and the responsibilities of delivering these benefits.
Growth is not a pre-condition for improving quality of housing. Increasing housing density is not a benefit, and reducing urban sprawl is not guaranteed as our city has been growing outward as well as upward. People still prefer to live in the privacy of a house, with a garden and amenities despite being in far-flung suburbs. The “economic benefits” are not for the public, but for those associated with the housing industry, and mega-stores and businesses.
The discussion paper on planning Melbourne's future, (The Age, 26/10) released by the Baillieu government, warns that housing has become less affordable, pushing people further out to where there are fewer services and jobs.
The report also says that in just two decades the number of people fully owning a home in Melbourne has dropped from 40 to 30 per cent and the number of people paying off a mortgage has risen from 30 to 35 per cent. Households on Melbourne's median income of $70,300 a year were being blocked from the city's housing market with few suburbs now affordable. “Medium” income means that there are many people living on under $70k per year and are locked out of home ownership, even if the fringes of Melbourne.
More population growth will only add to the squeeze on affordable housing, increase land prices, push up the demand for public housing and force more people to “choose” high density living.
No “sacred cows”
Jennifer Cunich, from the Property Council, welcomed the planning discussion paper and said there should be no ''sacred cows in this important community debate''. The “sacred cow” that needs to be sent to slaughter it the myth that ongoing population growth in Melbourne will give us any benefits.
The only beneficiaries will be the property developers, banks and investors.
There appears to be little inclination of governments and businesses to abandon their enthusiasm for the "sacred cow" of their growth-based economic model - something inappropriate in a world of finite and diminishing resources.
The reports includes:
....by 2050, Melbourne's population will likely be between 5.6 and 6.4 million.
Another recent document from the Planning Department (DPCD)
“Victoria in the future: 2012 - Population and household projections 2011 – 2031 for Victoria and its Regions” states that:
Over the 40 years to 2051, Victoria’s population is projected to increase by 3.2 million to 8.7 million. Over the same period, Melbourne’s population is expected to grow to 6.5 million, while regional Victoria is projected to grow to 2.3 million. The “projected” growth will obviously be controversial, so they dose out their growth plans in small, digestible doses!
....a possible new airport in the south west of Melbourne, serving one third of Victoria's population. There is adequate capacity to increase the number of aircraft flying into Melbourne ...
A new airport denies peak oil, and the increasing costs of aviation fuel. According to a graph in the Sydney Airport Master Plan of 2009, there should have been 42.5 million passengers at Kingsford-Smith airport in 2012. But extrapolating growth data up to August this year, passenger traffic in 2012 is likely to be just 36.3 million or 85% of this estimate. While international traffic grew continuously, domestic traffic stayed practically flat at around 24 million pa since 2010.
While the “immigration” debate rests on asylum seekers arriving by boat, the vast hoards of new arrivals arrive at air ports – without debate! But jet travel is also something that does and will always depend on liquid fuel, so it is likely that constraints in the liquid fuel supply will directly show through into constraints in jet travel. Fossil fuels are being relentlessly depleted, it takes an inexorable amount energy to produce them, resulting in a cumulative and rising energy demand overall.
A policy U-turn to limit the use of biofuels comes after studies cast doubt on the carbon dioxide emissions savings from using crop-based fuels, and following a poor harvest in key grain growing regions that pushed up prices and revived fears of food shortages. The amount of land available worldwide that is not suitable for agricultural use is currently estimated at anywhere between 600 million and 3.5 billion hectares, according to the Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany (AIREG).
A “20 minute” city, with jobs and services within 20 minutes of home..
Congestion significantly impacts Victoria's productivity and liveability. In Melbourne, both the Commonwealth Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics and the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission estimated the
cost of congestion in 2005-06 was in the billions of dollars and both institutions expect this to double in the next 10 to 15 years.
Services need to be provided in a more timely manner to urban growth areas and established outer areas of Melbourne. ...
More freeways and roads will simply attract more cars and traffic, and the cost of providing for these “services”, always failing to keep abreast to growth, need to be funded at a time households are already suffering from high costs of living.
The debate about infill housing in Melbourne must move beyond the impact of villa units on suburban streets and address how we can deliver the diverse housing, in the right locations, at a reasonable price. Rather than “diverse” housing, we are seeing more cookie-cutter developments, and more ubiquitous high density apartments and sky-scrapers. The rising costs of land will prohibit “reasonable” prices for housing. More people will be forced to “choose” higher density living and smaller living compartments.
Melbourne is a suburban city and that will not change. The environmental performance of its suburbs can be dramatically improved. The last decades have seem Melbourne not improve, but decline. TAFE funding has been cut, schools are closing, public housing waiting lists are exploding, even for “urgent” cases. (10 years). Hospital funding is being cut, public transport is failing to keep up with demands, and our city is continually suffering from “shortages”. The costs of population growth are simply ignored.
shifting housing growth to towns and regional centres...
House prices cripple many families. Mortgage pressure is an increasing concern. Population pressure and densification produce ever-worsening traffic jams which merely add to the time parents spend away from home. Victoria’s regional house market yielded a stronger result over the past year than Melbourne’s. Over the past 12 months the regional increase was 8.5%, according to the REIV June quarter survey.
Across Victoria, there is also a large-scale population shift happening now with tens of thousands moving from the Wimmera, Mallee and Western District to regional centres such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. This is putting new pressure on services and infrastructure in those areas while other towns, districts and communities are drained of people and the economic lifeblood they need to thrive. There are massive gaps in public transport, community services and employment options on the urban fringe and in regional Victoria fueling increased demand for emergency assistance and financial support, and it is community and welfare organisations that are forced to fill the “service hole” created by the lack of investment.
People in these communities find it harder to cope with unaffordable housing, rising costs for utilities and other non-discretionary spending items – such as food, health care, education, and transport, the increased cost of which have a disproportionate impact on low-income households. Meanwhile, job losses in manufacturing and other sectors of the Victorian economy are starting to bite.
The ills of Melbourne are spreading out to regional areas, and Councils are under financial stress.
The most pressing issue facing councillors about to be elected to office in rural and regional areas is how best to protect ratepayers from the impact of the developing financial crisis in local government. Over the past few years nearly all rural and regional councils have become financially reliant on increasing rates and charges at about twice the pace of their metropolitan counterparts and sometimes up to five times CPI.
options for funding new infrastructure – such as user-pay tolls, asset sales, borrowing, and project-specific bonds..
A very detailed study for the former Bureau of Immigration Research found the net cost to government budgets for an annual migrant intake of 114,000 was well over $3 billion dollars, or about $34,500 (in 1992 dollars) per immigrant. (Mark O'Connor) So the existing population needs to spend at least $200,000 on infrastructure for each new person added to Australia. If this is not spent before the new people arrive, we get the congested roads, hospital queues, overcrowded trains that we see in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Selling off more assets means more privatisation and higher costs, something that will only benefit the buyers and shareholders, not the public. Selling off capital assets that belong to the public for day to day running costs is not good business practice. It's an admission that the economic “benefits” of population growth fail to cover the costs.
creating a new metropolitan planning authority to guide development..
One option is to establish a metropolitan planning authority which, amongst other responsibilities, would coordinate relevant Government agencies in the timely delivery of city-shaping infrastructure and other projects of metropolitan significance.
Already we have too many tiers of planning, with public consultation and Councils giving approvals, then to have them rejected by VCAT. Another tier or “authority” will give one more storey of detachment from democratic input from those who carry the impacts the most – the public of Melbourne.
Environmental costs of population growth
Melbourne needs to be environmentally resilient. We need to be able to respond to changing environmental and climate conditions and ensure development does not undermine natural values.
We will need to use resources more efficiently and produce less waste.
City growth should be about expanding people’s choices and giving them the capabilities to exercise choices for a better life, while respecting the natural environment – on which we, future generations, and our native species depend.
Melbournians,due to overpopulation, already have a $24 billion bill for water from the desal plant!
On the contrary, The Baillieu Government's decision to scrap plans for the creation of vital habitat corridors for Victoria's endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot have angered conservation groups. "Obviously the Victorian Government has been captured by developers and is failing to take into account long-term conservation and community needs." VPNA
"The environmental side of growth planning in Victoria has become a shambles and is putting the credibility of the entire process under question," VPNA Executive Director Mr Ruchel said. The expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary will also include the clearing of critically endangered grassland and woodlands, as well as the establishment of large grassland reserves west of the city and 200m wildlife corridors on each side of creeks for to help protect Growling Grass Frog habitat.
Globally, city populations are expected to grow by five billion people and expand by 1.2 million square kilometers by 2030. Much of this expansion is forecast to occur in the tropics, which contain the bulk of the world's species.
Global population will expand to up to 10 billion people this century, with two billion additional people on the planet within 40 years, all needing food, water and shelter. Climate change will further wreak havoc on basic human needs. We have world-wide threats of "peaks" in energy, water, soils, fertilizers and species losses. it's obvious that growth - what served us well in the past - can't be a model for the future.
Matthew Guy and the Baillieu government, and our Federal government, seem to consider we can make growth policies in a vacuum, as if we live in a parallel universe of endless resources, untouched by Earth's limits.
Protecting future generations, an their quality of live
An Australia with a stable population promises a better and safer quality of life for our children and grandchildren, and secures more choices in the face of global threats and depletions. Although our current population is higher population than we should have, it is at least a population we can still plan for. It is logically impossible to plan for an indefinitely increasing population and ignoring the constraints, the limits to growth, will compromise us socially, environmentally and economically.
New website for Residents without Rights. Also Docklands, Stonington Mansions, heritage land in St Kilda road. How long will the War Memorial be safe?
Here are a variety of things to read and turn your mind to during this long weekend. Don't you love this first one about the new website, "Residents Without Rights". Dont we all often feel like that! This is the link for the residents of the CBD, Southbank, Docklands, Carlton, North and West Melbourne to contribute news items, comments or articles with particular interest in violations of residents rights.
Would love to know what the CBD groups also Docklands etc think of Peter Clark in this job. You know him as he was a councillor. Just think of planning and developing Fishermans Bend. And here was me suggesting to the Minister that they should run a world wide competition for Fishermans Bend and get it done well instead of another developer grab for land to put up the maximum they can get away with.
Now Stonnington Mansions land, or what is left of it, or what is left of it, is being sold off by the overseas developers who were able to get it in the first case. One of the tragedies that we see so much of as MarvellousMelbourne is ruined slice by slice.
If you read more of this article, you will also detect another grab for heritage land in St Kilda Road. I wonder how long before they start 'educating us' that the Shrine does not need all that land, what a waste of great development land?
This article is about the past - and shows how desperate Kennett was to get Docklands going. Bargain Basement prices. What a massive killing those developers made.
And what a mess they made of it.
Will they ever put it right?? And will they do the same in Fishermens Bend? Why do they get it so wrong?
And now a review of VCAT -
"As part of the reform moves, Mr Guy said he would establish a working group comprising members of VCAT and departmental officers to review long-term funding options and other possible reforms to VCAT. "
Planning Backlash should have seats on this review committee. Citizens need representatives of their own since DPCD and VCAT seem to be in the hands of developers.
The Mythical Housing shortage and the overseas trade in new home buyers
A few weeks ago I saw an ad from Kuala Lumpur re selling property in Whittlesea. The Doreen Residents Action Group are fighting a 5 story development in what was supposed to be open space adjoining their lake - and what do you think? There was a bus being taken around filled with Asians inspecting it all - no doubt as a result of the promotion in KL.
This mythical housing shortage - it is time to build for Australians instead of keeping prices sky high by selling to foreigners and keeping young Aussies out of the housing market.
How Many Is Too Many ??
Melbourne's population is over 4 million
They are planning for 8 million
Is that too many?
How many is too many?
IS SUSTAINABILITY IMPORTANT ?
- Infrastructure, who pays for it ??
Richmond Town Hall
333 Bridge Rd, RICHMOND
4pm, Sunday 7th November 2010
Andrew MacLeod, CEO Committee for Melbourne
Kelvin Thomson MP, Federal Member for Wills
Melina Sehr - Stonnington City Councillor
Rupert Mann - Melbourne Heritage Action Group
David O’Brien - Planning Barrister
Mary Drost - Convenor Planning Backlash
Moderator - David Trenerry
Sponsor: PLANNING BACKLASH INC.
September 13, 2010. Last night, when hearing about Mary Delahunty (ex-SBS and ABC journalist) launching her book in Hawthorn, I joined Margot Carroll (Orrong Group Convenor) and Julianne Bell (Protectors of Public Lands Victoria) at the event. Delahunty talked on about herself and family, and nothing about her time in parliament and what she said in her book about we residents.
'It may be tempting to believe our 4WD has bumped over a wombat.' (from an article in a magazine)
Roadkill is driving some species towards extinction. Too few safe corridors for animals to find more food. Too many cars and trucks on many more roads through their habitats.
How about a campaign to stop carelessness about road-kill? This could encompass:
1. More careful night-driving. through countrysides and slower diving through bushland could prevent so many deaths and so many orphaned creatures that other people may then try to save, or don't.
2. Invention. Can a form of warning that is effective in warning for animals up to four minutes ahead of the coming killing-machine be invented for use by cars and trucks in places and at times that creatures are liable to be hit. Headlights can simply paralyse them in the middle of the road.
3. Safe crossing tunnels and overheads which are used in some countries. These should be build in places where many small animals get run over.
4. A British man eats road-kill as his way of preventing waste.
5. Raise awareness. It would be interesting to know how many drivers know they have driven over animals. The Royal Australian Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) could ask its members. Let's have some idea of the grim tally.
What are people feeling is their own greatest collective guilt? There's a lot of it around. Trillions are spent on weapons of horrible destruction – even by the 'goodies?
Universal Guilt Day – making a real Day of Atonement - followed by ? Could we have a Peace and Saving Museum?
1. "Tassie's roadkill carnage" by Michelle Paine in teh Hobart Mercury of 21 Nov 08.
NEARLY 300,000 animals are killed on Tasmanian roads every year. Among them, 4000 Tasmanian devils -- about 5 per cent of a population already being dying from an infectious cancer.
"Pretty much everything that lives in Tasmania, we've seen dead on the road," said scientist Alistair Hobday, who has compiled the figures in one of the most extensive roadkill studies in the world.
"Of that, 70 per cent are hit in roadkill blackspots, which only exist on small sections of the road."
2. roadkill.wilddiscovery.com.au/ "Wild Discovery Guides - Australian Wildlife RoadKill, A Wild Discovery Guide" with Len Zell.
Wild Discovery PO Box 1696 Townsville Qld 4810 ISBN 0-9757184-3-6 RRP: A$19.95. The description is:
Roadkill was shortlisted for the 2007 Whitley Award for significant contribution to Australian zoology. This is the essential 'in-car' book for any road traveller in Australia. With about one million kilometres of road, anyone travelling them is, sadly, very likely to see or cause roadkill - certainly of the millions of small bugs that will be hit.This book provides an overview of the types of roadkill, hints on what to do with them, how to clean bugs off the car and an eclectic mix of other information - from road safety to recipes. In addition the book gives an unusual insight into the many aspects of Australia's very special fauna, albeit in a somewhat macabre way.More than 200 photographs of roadkill all some identification and an excellent guide on how to avoid and observe roadkill and who to send interesting specimens to.
3. Macabre ‘humour' at www.wwwildcats.com/abz.htm
Due to the creative genius of one Charlie Conroy whom we proudly claim as one of our own, we are excited to announce a world first, the ABZ of ROADKILL. This is a photographic competition open to all bikers worldwide, it is designed to utilise something that would otherwise just lie around going to waste, and is currently regarded just as something to stay upwind of and to avoid hitting when it is lying in the middle of the road. This comp is aimed as a small way of making their sacrifice worthwhile and at the same time offending the general population. Both worthy aspirations of any genuine bikers!
4. Ten minutes on Google can find you a whole lot of insensitive things done and thought about roadkill.
Libs give in to Madden
This morning Planning Minister Madden’s revised Planning Amendment, now re-badged VC 68, was fast tracked through Parliament with the support of the coalition - Liberals and Nationals – who had, over the past year, held out against inducements to approve this toxic planning amendment. (Only the Greens and DLP MP’s stood firm.) This represents a catastrophe for Melbourne as it will see rezoning of land from rural to residential on the City’s fringe and so extend our notorious urban sprawl.
Protectors of Public Land: "The Community opposes these changes."
Brian Walters SC, President of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. comments:
"The community opposes these changes. Extension of the urban growth boundary will destroy green wedges, the lungs of Melbourne. This amendment will take 43,600 hectares out of the western, northern and Cranbourne South green wedges for housing development, freeways and freight terminals. The losses include: 5,000 hectares of environmentally significant Western Basalt Plains grasslands; the grassy woodlands of the Maribyrnong and Merri Creek catchments, with their magnificent red gums; and 4,000 hectares of the South East food-bowl, where highly productive market gardens using recycled water double as Southern Brown Bandicoot habitat. Our Green Wedges have been sacrosanct for generations. There was no mandate from the people to dispose of this legacy.”
Julianne Bell: Great increase in car dependency - city in permanent gridlock
Julianne Bell Secretary of PPL VIC: points out :
“It is also forecast that extension of the urban growth boundary will result in the creation of numbers of “dormitory” settlements without advance provision of infrastructure and services. It will greatly increase car dependency with people needing several cars per family and so worsen Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. (This is ironic given the Brumby Government's recent announcement of work to control carbon emissions by the part closure of Hazelwood power station.) Monash University Centre of Population and Social Research forecast that from 1.97 million cars registered in Melbourne in 2006 there will be over 3 million by 2036. Our city will then be in permanent traffic gridlock.”
(See also "Why Gillard's car fuel-efficiency 'reforms' make no ecological or social sense" of 30 July 2010.)
Madden planning more nightmares to come
Community groups are now waiting for another bombshell from Planning Minister Madden – he is reported to be attempting to put through another planning amendment which will approve high rise (22 stories plus) along tram, bus and light rail routes as a means of accommodating the expected 1.5 million more people in Melbourne by 2036. This will result in further congestion of the major transport routes and condemn the population of flat dwellers to ill health. (Anyone who lives within 500 metres of a main road is threatened by developing asthma and cardiac-respiratory diseases.) The Brumby Government is fast turning Melbourne into one of the great unliveable cities of the world.
Inquiries: Julianne Bell Mobile 0408 022 408 Brian Walters SC Mobile 0411 020 967
Source: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc., Media Release 29 July 2010
Echoing the fiction of many of Australia's urban planners and pro-immigrationists, Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh characterized Vancouver as a showcase for "green development" following a recent trip to the fabled city. Growth is somehow made palatable when it is re-christened as "development", and of course, tacking the adjective "green" to it makes any development proposal seem benign. With "green development" the Growth Lobby can have its cake and develop it too. Trouble is, Vancouver's greener pastures don't stand up to scrutiny.
I went to the "De-growth" Conference in Vancouver in early May. I met with Conrad Schmidt of the "Work Less Party", and others, who had a ring side seat to the farce which was the Olympics. I was intent upon writing a summary of the conference, but as usual, was sidetracked by other issues. That Vancouver is held up as a shining beacon of sensible planning is an outrage equivalent to the International Red Cross giving a Nazi concentration camp a five star hotel rating. I'm Vancouver-born, and returned to my roots to attend the conference. My impression of the place was only re-inforced. As I commented, it is a city built on an imported slave labour caste where the slaves, too exhausted by long hours and subsistence pay, are on the one hand, celebrated by the chic left and business class alike as agents of diversity, and on the other hand, blamed for not assimilating into our society by the resentful residents who feel their competition. The truth is, the working immigrant poor, have neither the time nor the energy to do so, and it is their children who must interpret mainstream culture for them. Same old con job. My great grandparents were caught in the same vice at the turn of the century. Today 38% of Vancouverites fail to earn the $18 per hour necessary to live a decent living. And 38% of city residents are foreign born. That correlation carries a message. Most newcomers are poor, and as elsewhere in Canada, take a decade to catch up with the hindmost Canadian working poor. They cannot earn the $25,000 per year necessary to pay enough taxes to reimburse governments for the services that are provided for them. In effect, "cultural diversity" is a corporate welfare scam where Canadians pay for the services of cheap labour and employers, landlords and realtors reap the reward. Nothing new about that script. Yet it is one that travel writers and eminent tourists from Brisbane never read.
Yes, Vancouver has invested billions in monorails. But owing to open-ended growth, that transportation network has not displaced car traffic but only supplemented it. Driving about the city is an even greater nightmare now than it was when I left. And in the shadow of this grand monuments there sleeps the homeless, who can be seen by day begging for money or dashing between cars to wipe windshields. Some find shelter by the entrances of million dollar condo highrises. Vancouver is a glowing testament to the truth that growth never closes the income gap, but widens it. It may reduce unemployment, but not the unemployment rate.It may increase the GDP, but not the per capita GNP. Growth may grow the but the forces that profit from it will will ensure that its benefits are not equitably shared by buying city elections and electing pro-development politicians to the provincial legislature. Even the social democratic NDP failed to arrest the widening disparity of wealth during its eight year reign. In fact, evidence suggests that it worsened. Yet leftist politicians still remain faithfull to the credo that to meet the need for affordable housing, education and health care, they must "grow" the revenues. That can only be done in two ways. One is the traditional way of "taxing the rich". But capital is a moving target, and won't live in a tax regime that is much higher than in other jurisdictions. The second way is to pursue economic growth, which the social democratic leadership has picked up as its banner too. The two party system is in reality, a one party growthist state with two competing factions whose differences can only be calibrated in nuances. But spout the same cant about cultural diversity and sustainability and employ common buzzwords. Every initiative is "green" and all growth is "smart".
A roomate of mine in the early eighties said it best. "Those who advocate more density will get more density without any end to sprawl." Jack Marshall said that smart growth was necessary but not sufficient. It is only necessary as a growth-enabler and a means to line developer pockets. Renegade urban planner Rick Belfour made it clear at the De-growth conference. There are no "green" buildings. We already have TOO MANY buildings and houses. In our post carbon future---if we have one--- cities of Vancouver's size will not be capable of being "fed or energized". Densification does not conserve energy---quite the contrary(see attachment). More energy is needed to transport food in and waste out. Energy is needed for highrise elevators and heat (ever seen a clothes line outside the 11th floor?). So rather than pack them in, as the soft green establishment keeps arguing, we need to disperse people fast. "It is not about the number of buildings", Belfour said, "but where they are situated". They need to situated close to farmland. We need to relocalize and re-ruralize, and depopulate the megalopolis.
I wrote the following upon my return:
Watch online: http://www.thefiveringcircus.com/5ring.swf This portrait of Vancouver will disabuse you of your illusions about my hometown. It is a story that is being played out across the world----the making of cities that mimic John Kenneth Galbraith’s description of America: private affluence co-existing with public squalor. In Vancouver (and elsewhere) we now have a two-party system. The “Work Less Party” , and the incumbent “Care Less Party”.
It would be instructional for Australians to see that. I am made sick by these recurrent tales of "Vancouver, the model city". Bullshit.