“Time for Melbourne to think about its population surge”, Herald-Sun, 19/10. An alarming prediction that a population of 8 million in Melbourne is inevitable by 2060. A “business think-tank” is promoting such growth.
Committee for Melbourne chief executive Andrew MacLeod said a doubling of Melbourne’s population over the next 50 years was a “normal” rate of growth. He slammed suggestions the city’s population spurt should be capped, rejecting arguments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and activist Dick Smith that Australia didn’t have the infrastructure to cope. A population cap was one of the “greatest threats” to Melbourne’s future as it would allow governments turn a blind eye to the reality of growth.
Well he is deluded (and greedy) – a lot of residents don’t want such a huge population as the city is under serious strain from its current numbers. Growth is not inevitable; governments have it in their power to contain it. Excessive growth is by far a greater threat to Melbourne’s future livability.
Demographer Bernard Salt also weighs in with his usual inane generalizations – does anyone take him seriously?
H-S letter, 20/10:
I have a question for Bernard Salt, who says Melbourne has the capacity to double in size.
London and Paris may have eight million people now, but what do they also have?
Answer: brilliant metros, undergrounds and vast, efficient commuter rail lines (plus lots of water).
They also have thousands of unhappy people trying to emigrate to Australia. Go figure.
– Sheila Walkington, Mornington
“Plan for hundreds of kilometres of new freeways”, The Age, 11/10. Governments seem to be obsessed with building roads, and the current State Government is no exception. This proposed plan will scar the landscape with yet more freeways, adding to pollution and will not lessen traffic congestion. There seems to be no enthusiasm for building railways instead, which would have less environmental impact.
“The Yarra monster is killing us”, 23/8. Melbourne (and Sydney) are sucking up resources.
“Melbourne is a parasite economy,” says Bob Birrell, the doyen of immigration and population studies in Australia. “Increasingly, the fiscal dividend from Australia’s mineral boom is having to be distributed to Victoria to pay for the needs of Melbourne’s population boom. That’s why the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, is constantly having to go cap-in-hand to the federal government for assistance.”
But the mining boom involves scarring the landscape with open-cut mines to strip the land of minerals, so it is parasitical in its own way. Both types of economies are unsustainable and environmentally damaging in the long term.
- Labor’s immigration net intake of 270,000 people last year drove a multiplicity of stresses, which forced the “big Australia” debate:
- By far the greatest beneficiaries of high immigration are the immigrants, not the resident population.
- High immigration lowers per capita productivity growth, a key to sustainable growth.
- It retards the growth of per capita wealth. It accelerates the rate of food importation. (Australia imported a record $8.5 billion worth of food in 2008-09.)
- It accelerates the increase in urban overcrowding and traffic congestion.
- It increases Australia’s greenhouse emissions, per capita.
- It makes it unlikely Australia can meet its targets of greenhouse gas emission reduction.
- It lowers Australia’s food security.
In short, there is nothing good about high immigration rates.