29 January, 2010


With our population predicted to be a massive 35 million by 2050, our federal and state governments have reacted by pushing development and densification policies to cope with this growth.
Last year our population grew by 439000 or by 2.1%, roughly double that of previous years and there are now over 2200 people moving into Melbourne each week. As we have previously pointed out (see item below on population growth) 889722 people arrived on Australia's shores during 2008/2009, all needing somewhere to live. This figure includes 171,318 migrants, 47,000 New Zealanders, 13,500 refugees and 657,124 temporary migrants with long stay visas, many with rights to apply for permanent residency - skilled workers, students and others with work permits.
It seems logical that, if we see overdevelopment as a problem for our long term future, shouldn't we look at the cause rather than just continue to overload our cities to the point where they can no longer cope.
BRAG believes it is time for governments (both Federal and State ) to develop sustainable population policies. In fact we go further, we believe it is time for appointment of a Minister for Population with powers to develop policies to limit population growth to sustainable numbers.
Mark O'Connor, co-author of "Overloading Australia" makes the point that tackling climate change is meaningless while governments encourage record population growth. We couldn't agree more. Population expert, Dr Bob Birrell at Monash University, has praised federal labour MP Kelvin Thomson's 14 point plan to curb our population growth set out in his paper "There is an alternative to runaway population" in which he recommends stabilizing Australia's population at 26 million by cutting net immigration to around the 70,000 per annum mark. ( You can access details on www.kelvinthomson.com.au/speeches.php )
Even Bob Hawk, whilst in office, stated that Australia's population should be no more than 23.000 and then a bit later accepted that 25,000 would be OK. Just last week when interviewed on TV by Andrew Denton, he reaffirmed this position
So why are Rudd and Brumby hell bent on pushing growth to 35 million?
The answer is simple, they are pandering to the "growth lobby" who make political donations to get political decisions that suit their cause. This sort of activity has been criticized over the years but nothing is done to stop this practice. Quite the reverse, both Rudd and Brumby encourage such 'donations' as a legitimate way of doing business.
We say such 'political donations' are nothing more than graft and corruption for short term political gains at the expense of our long term future.
If you agree we need a sustainable population policy, then write to your local member and make it clear you expect action.
We also recommend that you send letters to the newspapers. The editors respond to the number of letters receieved, so even if yours does not get printed, it will help to convince the editors to run with the issues raised.

17 January, 2010

Planning Minister Justin Madden's flip flop

This Minister is a real worry. After expanding the urban growth boundary by 43,600 hectares late last year, to satisfy pressure from the development industry, he said that this should be the last expansion "in his lifetime".
But he now says that the government will have to consider adjustments from time to time and he has just approved Amendment VC55 to the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs) the rules that govern planning in Victoria. VC55 will will make some very serious changes to the VPPs including further expansion of the growth boundary - the bill is subject to parliamentary approval.
 We are confused but so is  this Minister who floundered under questioning in parliament  on the Development Assessment Committee Bill, which made it very obvious he was not on top of his portfolio.
This is the Minister who professed he knew nothing about the involvement of his electoral office in the Brimbank scandals.
This is the Minister who knew nothing about his department's approval of a beer barn in the Docklands precinct, despite his Premiers desire to limit such premises.
And yet this is the Minister who will have "decision making power without challenge , appeal or review or be quashed or called into question in any court or tribunal" under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Bill 2009. 
That is total power.
This Minister is about to get further dictatorial powers under proposed changes to the Planning Act,  including the ability to compulsory acquire council owned or private property.
We don't think this confused Minister should be trusted with so much power.
What do you think? 
Email your thoughts to info@brag.asn.au