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BRAG: Population Growth Out of Control
Picture of Jack Roach
Population Growth Out of Control
by Jack Roach - Wednesday, 25 November 2009, 01:18 AM

Melbourne's population is fast heading towards 5 million and is expected to reach 7 million by 2049. Our

population is currently growing by more than 2000 per week ( McCrindle research has identified that Australia's population increased by over 450,000 last year which is way above the planned estimates). Melbourne is outpacing all the other major cities in Australia largely due to encouragement by our state government's population policies. (part of John Brumby's ego trip to make Melbourne bigger than Sydney).
Our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he wants a "big Australia" and has indicated that he would accept a population of 50 million.
All the things that make our city a great place to live, work and raise a family are under threat and yet our state and federal governments are increasingly encouraging population growth to feed the development and construction industries as a short cut to stimulate economic growth.

But what is happening? By encouraging such growth, we add to the urban sprawl and high density within the city leading to more and more pollution and congestion as well as placing real strain on our resources, our fragile environment and our aging already overstrained infrastructure.

To cope with the growth, our planning bureaucrats are pushing new home owners into the fringes of the city at an ever increasing rate (to satisfy the development industry). At the same time they are doing their best to force the rest of us into high-rise/high/density apartments.The development industry is having its cake and eating it too
But most of us don't want to live in apartments. We prefer to live in low rise suburban homes on our own block of land.

The governments, both state and federal, talk about protecting our fragile environment but their policies do not deliver on their promise.
Melbourne is currently generating more greenhouse emissions, using more water, more power, losing our open spaces and turning Melbourne into a high-rise concrete jungle. Our carbon footprint gets bigger and bigger.

If we continue at the same rate of population growth, Melbourne will need to accommodate 7 million people by around 2049 further straining our infrastructure and resources. Is this what we want? We don't think so.

There is another way.

Satellite cities offer a radical but surprisingly cheaper solution to population growth. About half of Australia's population is contained in five cities resulting in over-urbanization that is inefficient requiring ever-expanding, expensive infrastructure upgrades.

A recent opinion piece in The Age (17 April 09) by Frank Reale, an environmental scientist with an interest in energy conservation and sustainable cities, makes the point that smaller planned cities make more sense. Smaller cities are more efficient because roads, sewers, water, power supplies, waste disposal and communication lines can be shorter and more economical. In addition water harvesting can be more easily introduced.

Another recent opinion piece in The Age (19 June 09) by Brian Buckley, supports Reale's argument reminding us that within 100 kilometres of Melbourne there are a number of smaller cities with natural advantages and facilities that could be developed further such as Warrigul, Seymour, Bendigo, Ballarat. Baccus Marsh, Geelong and Colac.

Also, BRAG believes that the time has come for another major city to be planned within Victoria with poptential for a population of up to 1 million over the next 10 to 25 years. Portland has a natural harbour as well as having potential for further development.

Another example is that Ireland, faced a population growth problem which could have placed a strain on Dublin's infrastructure, came up with
what they called their "Gateway" solution which is essentially a number of smaller cities to take up the growth.

Ireland's population grew by 8.2% from 2002 to 2008 but under a National Development Plan (see www.irishspatialstrategy.ie) Dublin's population has remained constant at 39.2%. We understand that the Irish Government stopped further extension of Dublin's boundaries forcing the growth to the Gateway cities. If the Irish can do it, surely we can too?

We urge residents to tell our politicians of all parties that to continue on with current planning policies is unacceptable and they must consider the alternatives.

As a final comment, we understand that the Brumby Government is planning for freeways extending from Pakenham to Greensborough to way beyond Werribee, and from Sorrento to Torquay  as part of its planned 7  million population growth. They also want to build eight storey apartment blocks along transport corridors and the Planning Minister is being given over-riding planning powers which will effectively remove planning powers from our councils.

Is that what you want for Marvellous Melbourne?
If you don't, then we urge you to email:

and c.c.justin.madden@parliament.vic.gov.au