A backlog of letters from The Age concerning environmental destruction, population growth, immigration and new PM Julia Gillard.
Two letters on the Green Wedges, remnant volcanic grasslands now under threat from development no thanks to Brumby & Co.
Land grab stance is a pox on the two major parties
Before the 2006 election, Liberal, ALP and Greens MPs surveyed by the Green Wedges Coalition all supported the government policy to protect green wedges, “including the present boundaries”.
The uniformity of the major party responses suggested they had their respective campaign offices’ approval.
It is therefore disappointing for those who want green wedges protected for their environmental, recreational, and landscape values, open space and sustainable agriculture, to find the government proposing to move in Parliament today to amend the urban growth boundary to remove 43,600 hectares of green wedge land for urban development, among other controversial proposals in planning scheme amendment VC67 (“Greens warn of planning changes”, The Age, 17/6).
Equally disappointing are Coalition MPs’ comments that they will not oppose this disgraceful land grab, which will destroy
4600 hectares of western basalt plains grassland, up to 900 hectares of grassy woodland (plus giant red gums) in the Merri and Darebin Creek catchments and 4000 hectares of the south-east food bowl, where productive market gardens double as southern brown bandicoot habitat.
The Greens seem to be the only party whose MPs stick to their election policies and principles. No wonder polls show their votes increasing.
– Louis Delacretaz, Sassafras
Hold our urban boundary
Thankfully, Premier John Brumby has woken up to the fact that the population boom he has created is threatening Melbourne’s liveability.
Now that he is spending $59 million to promote regional development as a more acceptable alternative to overloading the city, he surely has no need to push urban development out into the green wedges.
Let’s hope that this means Mr Brumby will now withdraw his draft planning scheme amendment VC67, which proposes to expand the urban growth boundary to take 43,600 hectares of green wedge land for urban development.
– Arnie Azaris, joint co-ordinator, Green Wedges Coalition, Sunbury
Losing our liveability
Proposed amendments to the Planning and Environment Act to increase development around public transport networks, represent another shocking assault on Melbourne’s liveability and amenity.
With the Brumby government trying to feed the endless hunger of developers for high-rise, high-density housing, it fails to recognise that many of the train and tram lines in Melbourne are well and truly at capacity already.
If that is not bad enough, the green wedges that have been preserved for decades, to provide Melbourne’s “lungs”, will simply be sliced and diced by developers. This will have a detrimental effect on air quality for future generations.
With all this infill and loss of green wedges, open space for recreation will become a thing of the past. If these amendments are passed, our way of life and liveability will be lost for all eternity.
– Mathew Knight, Malvern East
Region’s no answer
Distributing growth to regional cities won’t prevent further expansion into Melbourne’s urban growth boundary and nor is this a preventable solution.
The numbers of people moving to regional Victoria have always been minimal. The great majority of new arrivals to Victoria prefer to settle in Melbourne. John Brumby might think he’ll buy your vote with promises to “relieve the pressure” on Melbourne, yet - with 2000 people choosing Victoria as “the place to be” each week, most settling in Melbourne - this is a pipe dream.
If, by chance, 43,600 hectares of land within Melbourne’s growth boundary was saved from development, then 43,600 hectares of development would simply be allocated elsewhere. Don’t assume that your regional cousins want to lose their green wedges or liveability either.
– Shaun Dumbrell, Williamstown
Gillard’s firm hand
Australia’s growth rate is not “natural” but driven by immigration. People have been silenced on the issue of population growth because they might be labelled racist. This is very clever political control.
The issue is not about race but about caring for our nation, showing responsibility for future generations, balancing environmental resources, ensuring the survival of indigenous species and existing without continually stretching basic infrastructure.
Our present growth rate is about property developers’ greed. Let’s hope Julia Gillard, who has shown some common sense (“Gillard rejects ‘Big Australia’ ”, The Sunday Age, 27/6), is not overpowered by commercial forces.
– Vivienne Ortega, Heidelberg Heights
Don’t blame men or motherhood
Hariklia Heristanidis (Letters, 26/6) says women with children, unlike Julia Gillard, can never have the drive and single vision to compete with men to be prime ministers. If true, is this asymmetry peculiar to the Australian psyche and way of life?
Since 1960, when Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first female head of government, there have been more than 60 women prime ministers, presidents and heads of state, many of them mothers with young children. The widowed Mrs Bandaranaike’s children were 17, 15 and 11 when she was elected prime minister. She was prime minister three times (1960-65, 1970-77, 1994-2000) and one of her daughters (also a mother) became Sri Lanka’s first female president.
Closer to home, the first woman to occupy New Zealand’s highest office, Jenny Shipley, is a mother of two.
We shouldn’t blame men or motherhood for gender imbalance in high offices.
– Hendry Wan, Matraville, NSW
Could we please use the term “child-free” in preference to “childless”. I doubt Julia Gillard feels she is lacking anything at the moment.
– Joanna Unferdorben, Brunswick
Slow migrant intake
Julia Gillard’s policy statement on population is thoughtful and well judged. The rate of population growth is fundamental to every aspect of public policy, from health and education to greenhouse gas emissions. Slowing population growth will ease the difficulty of ensuring availability of water, housing and rail and road transport, and constrain destruction of biodiversity.
Communities need sufficient time to absorb immigrants: the social adjustments can only be gradual. Reducing the numbers will reduce the risk of potential conflicts. One reason there is opposition to accepting the tiny number of asylum seekers is resentment about the total immigration rate. Slowing the intake of migrants would reduce the perception of competition for jobs and housing. This might contribute to greater willingness for Australia to take a fair share of refugees from violent and repressive places.
– Professor John Langmore, chairman, Anglican Public Affairs Commission
One important fact has been overlooked by the bleeding heart do-gooders among Age readers. The main body of asylum seekers are male. What will be the first thing they do following the granting of residency? Send for their wives and other relatives. So we end up with more immigrants who have more children.
I count myself to be lucky to live in Australia, having escaped from Britain where this kind of uncontrolled immigration has wreaked havoc with services from education to health. Read the British newspapers and see what Australia could become if you shrug your shoulders and let it happen. Stating this is not being racist. It is fact.
– Anthony Toone, Hampton East
England certainly does have huge problems with immigration; the irony is the writer has, in his own words, “escaped” for a better life, just as the genuine refugees seek to. The spillover effect again.
A sustainable population is one based on natural increase, not massive immigration. Skilled people and a quota of refugees is all we should allow.
– Philip Squire, Ashgrove, Qld
Most desperate targeted
Why all this fuss about refugees? Don’t people realise that the people who are flooding our cities, inflating our real estate values and putting strains on our community facilities are the legal immigrants: 180,000 so far this year?
Why don’t politicians mention the 50,000 overstayers who come by plane, not by boat? It is the above groups who are stressing our social and physical environment.
We certainly need a population policy for sustainable development rather than a policy of scapegoating the most desperate.
– John Addie, Ringwood East
On inane comments by the Melbourne Lord Mayor, who thinks the city’s “vigorous growth” (in reality, barely-contained chaos) is a good thing:
Doyle is dreaming
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, like all proponents of a larger Australia, uses emotive words such as “vigorous” (The Age, 4/7), which is supposed to conjure images of this wonderful, youthful-energy-filled utopia that will overcome an ageing population and a lack of skills.
In reality, what you will have is overcrowding on a Third World level, increased crime, shortage of housing, unsustainable rents, water restrictions, a filthy city (look at any sprawling metropolis overseas) and horrendous traffic jams.
As a frequent visitor, I can attest that it is easier and quicker to drive around Sydney.
– Warwick Kent, South Cronulla, NSW