03 December, 2018


Dear Members and supporters, enjoy a very Merry Christmas for the New Year will not bring much joy ( see the two posts below).


In the post below we forewarned that should Labor win the election, Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, would force 70 % of new residential development into the middle suburbs.

This is now a reality and multi-story development will negatively change the streetscapes in Boroondara as Minister Wynne has made it clear that he is targeting Boroondara for special attention.

As we pointed out, there will be up to ten dwellings or more on a single block which will most likely mean that the new developments will not be just three storeys, but could be much higher and neither you or your council will be able to do a thing about it.

For more on this please read the post below.

12 October, 2018

Dramatic Changes being Planned for Development in our Suburbs

BRAG has always tried to remain unaligned politically but the plans the Andrews' Government has for centralizing planning  if and when it is re-elected require us to take a stand.
Right now there are plans being developed in secret by Labor to ensure that massive changes can be rammed through to push at least 70% of new medium and high density housing into the middle suburbs with the leafy Eastern suburbs targeted for more than most.
What this means is that you can expect the Labor Government, if re-elected,  to approve multi story blocks of flats in your local street and neither you nor your council will be able to do a thing about it. You will have no right to be advised, object or appeal and the first indication you will have is when construction commences.
And these flats won't be just two or three story, they could be up to seven or eight stories or even more. No more mandatory heights, no real restriction on how many dwellings per block, with Planning Minister, Richard Wynne telling the Public Accounts & Estimates Committee that, under the changes, 10 or more dwellings could be built on a single block previously mandated as a maximum of only two dwellings per block. No more backyards or gardens or trees just buildings and lots of concrete.
On the other hand, the Coalition has announced and confirmed in writing, if elected , it will "restore the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and General Residential Zone protections introduced under the former Coalition Government recently torn up by Labor". In addition we have established that the Coalition will review VCAT's practice of acting as another Responsible Authority and over-ruling over 80% of Councils' properly arrived at decisions. 
BRAG is raising this issue because Labor's plans for densification of our surburban residential areas will drastically change the way we live.
You can do something about it at the November election. Its really up to you to choose.
(A copy of David Davis' speech at our Restore Residents' Rights Rally is attached above setting out the Coalition's position. Note : the heights in second paraagraph no longer apply).

30 August, 2018

There is an election coming & we have an Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 29th August
BRAG and other Boroondara Groups met with David Davis (Shadow Planning Minister) and John Pesutto (Shadow Attorney General) to encourage them to consider our recommendations for changes to planning regulations, if elected, to overcome the unacceptable and damaging changes made by the Andrews' government.
David Davis has already promised publicly and by letter to Boroondara Residents to reverse the changes to the Neighbourhood Residential Zones to restore the protections the earlier NRZ provided. But there are other changes needed to protect what we love about our neighbourhood and our briefing and a copy of the recommndations made to David Davis and John Pesutto at our meeting are attached above.
Professor Michael Buxton also attended our meeting and offered helpful thoughts on what we should think about.
Michael along with Kelvin Thomson (former MP for Wills) are our guest speakers at our Annual General Meeting on Thursday 20th September when we will have the opportunity to further our plans for changes to planning regulations, VCAT, etc.
BRAG is considering to campaign in the lead-up to the coming election because the Andrews' government has made very unacceptable changes to planning in Victoria including forcing 70% of all new development into the middle suburbs.His Planning Minister, Richard Wynne has criticized both Glen Eira and Boroondara in parliament saying "he would get us" His changes have gone a long way of achieving his promise by acting to force 70% of all new development into the middle suburbs.
It is clear that the "leafy eastern suburbs" are being targeted so we are urgng our 600 members to attend our AGM to hear what our guest speakers say and they will then be better informed on what actions they and BRAG should take.
Of course the elephant in the room is the massive rate of poulation growth of Melbourne (2.4%) which is three times that of comparible countries. But our poiticians are deliberately ignoring this as they tell us that poulation growth equals economic growth. They quote increase in GDP but ignore GDP per capita which is what affects us. That has been flat or going backwards for some time. Ask yourself are you better off today than say 10 years ago?
Watch this space.....

09 August, 2018


Instead of relying on the property bubble pretending that our economy is strong, Australia needs real structural change in the way we grow our economy.Chinese money is creating this gigantic property bubble here and in other countries around the world but it is not doing us any favours.
We have gone mad building houses and apartment blocks, mainly for the new arrivals and Chinese investors,  but this cannot go on indefinitely. Australia's earnings of of $1.6 trillion is nearly 70% from services rather then producing goods. John Hewson said recently that the entire country is basically sitting around serving each other cups of coffee and smashed avacado. 
In the 1970's we really became a third world economy selling raw materials and food but left the industrial production slide. It was "she'll be right mate" but sooner rather than later there will be a massive adjustment and we will become just another banana republic as Paul Keating predicted.
Building houses is not enough, we need to enthusiastically develop our technolodgical skills and lift our sights to secure our future. No longer can we rely upon mining, for China is taking less and less resulting in revinue dropping significantly while costs continue to rise.
The old "she'll be right" attitude must change before it is too late.
We have previously pointed out that our governments have always used positive GDP growth as a measure to mislead us into thinking all is well, but the real measure is GDP "per capita" which is static or going backwards and restricting our salary and wages growth. So we are no better off today than we were 10 years ago. 
The first step we need to take is to reduce our migrant intake back to the 70,000 pa we used to accept in the late 1990's and early 2000's, which will still meet our international obligations, and the second step is to put a stop to Chinese investment in housing and buying up our farmland and other assets.  
Time to wake up Australia.......

18 June, 2018

New Planning Laws to Save Our Suburbs

A new development proposal in Glen Iris for a three storey block of nine flats was the site of a press release from the Coalition promising to introduce strict new planing rules within its first 100 days of office if elected at the November election.
A full copy of the release is attached above...
This development proposal currently before the Boroondara Council is the result of the Andrew's government changes to the residential zones introduced last year which increase heights and allowed for development of more than two dwellings per lot. When questioned, Richard Wynne, the Current Minister for Planning, reluctantly admitted that more than 10 dwellings on one lot was possible.
At the Restore Residents' Rights Rally on the steps of parliament David Davis promised that, if elected, to restore the protections of the previous residential zones and today's press release honors that promise.
Matthew Guy said that "Victoria needs the right growth in the right places, not allowing anything to be built anywhere"
David Davis said that "a Liberal Nationals Government will put the brakes on this unplanned over development and give control back to residents and their councils".

05 June, 2018

The Election and Our Problems with Plan Melbourne

Plan Melbourne 2017 - 2050 introduced by the Andrews' government has stripped away many of the protections against over-development that were put in place by the previous Coalition government. The General Residential Zones (GRZ) height has been  inceased from 9 metres to 11 metres, the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) from 8 metres to 9 metres and the cap of two residences per block has been removed completely.
Richard Wynne, the Minister for Planning, has admitted under pressure to the Public Accounts Committee, that 10 or more dwellings can now be crammed into one NRZ block. His government has said that 70% of new development will be forced into the middle suburbs and the leafy eastern suburbs have been especially targeted. This means that you could have a three storey block of flats with 10 or  more apartments being built next door and neither you or your council will be able to do a thing about it
There is an election coming and this is an opportunity to get things changed and its up to you to do something about it. We will certainly be seeking changes. David Davis, the Shadow Minister for Planning, at our Restore Residents Rights rally on the steps of parliament, committed the Coalition, if elected,to restore the protections to the residential zones and this has been confirmed in writing.
We will also be seeking changes to VCAT to ensure that it is returned to being an appeal body confined to resolution of legal matters arising form planning law. In other words, to stop VCAT from assuming the role of another Responsible Authority for planning applications.
BRAG and Planning Backlash will be seeking further commitments from those standing at the next election in line with the Residents' Bill of Rights. A copy of this can be viewed on our website  www.brag.asn.au 

28 April, 2018


We have noticed many more letters to our newspapers raising the issue of high population growth mainly due to immigration. A recent survey by The Australian Population Research Institute has reported that "74% of voters thought that Australia does not need more people". The fillowing points set out some of the reasons why we should be demanding better immigration controls by our governments:
  • The main reason why many people feel they haven't benifited from Australia's long stretch of economic expansion is because they haven't.
  • Our pay packets haven't increased while many of our essential goods and services have gone through the roof.
  • High migration makes it nearly impossible for Australia to fall into recession.
  • It's great for business because it keeps wages low and there are more people to buy their good and services
  • It looks great for governments because it means that economic growth looks better than it really is, but this is only an illusion.
  • It certainly is not good for our ordinary wage and salary workers.
  • Business is fairly happy because it means more demand for goods and services for when there is short supply it results in huge price rises (such as housing).
  • As the new Governor of the Reserve Bank, Phillip Lowe, has stated "the role of good economic policy should be to raise living standards- not make the population and therefore the economy bigger".
  • So why don't our politicians do just that? Political donations influence?  Maybe too many have investments in property and development that require more and more customers and they need more cutomers to kep the pot boiling? (Snouts in the trough).
Our very high rate of population growth is twice the world average  and three times that of the UK, France, the US and similar western customers. Our governments over the last twenty years or so have claimed that this has driven our economic growth without suffering from a recession like other countries. The reality is that our existing citizens have gained no real fiscal benefit from our poulation growth from immigration.
In 2016 0ur intake was reduced from around 250,000 p.a. to about 200,000 p.a. and recently the Minister for Immigration canvassed reducing the intake further by 20.000 p.a. However, our Prime Minister was not prepared to do so. Why not ?

The reality is that since the GFC, Australia has seen per capita income go backwards as evidenced by stagnant wages growth. The slight reduction  in long term arrivals presents a misleading picture because migration to Australia is still  proceeding at a pace with a massive lift  in long term visa holders, which are not included in our official immigration numbers.There are currently around 2 million long term visa holders in Australia right now all needing somewhere to live. Overall our rate of growth has averaged 1.7% which compares with around 0.7% average for UK, France and the US. Right now the rate of population growth for Melbourne is at the record rate of 2.4%. That's four time more than comparitive countries.

It's time for action, There is an election coming so take advantage and confront your local member and push for a real reduction in our intake. If we reduce it to around  70,000 p.a.we would still be ahead of the pack and meet our international obligations. That would give us breathing space  to catch up with the infrastrucure upgrades we desperately need for our existing population and maybe , in time, we  could provide infrastructure to cope with our future migrant intake.

To continue as we are will result in further degradation of our environment, lifestyle and a flat financial position. Ultimately  we would end up living in overcrowded cities with overcrowded high rise ghettos. No one wants that do they?

08 April, 2018


Infrastructure Australia has announced plans to intensify Melbourne by forcing high rise development into our suburbs from Sunshine to Box Hill to cope with the predicted future population growth.
Because the Andrews' government has already changed our planning guidelines to remove our notification, objection and appeal rights, your first indication will be when a developer starts building an 8 storey block of flats next door and you and your council will not be able to do a thing about it.
This could happen sooner than later ......see the full story attached above
More on the GDP v GDP "per capita" in the post below....

14 March, 2018

Restore Residents' Rights Rally on the steps of Parliament

This report has been updated (see below).
Our "Restore Residents' Rights Rally on 8th June, held on the parliament steps, was well attended with groups from right across Melbourne and beyond supporting the speakers criticising the negative effects of PLAN MELBOURNE 2017-2050 recently announced by the government.
Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 has changed the protection provided by the zones put in place by the previous government allowing for  more multi-storey residential development in our residential streets. The whole emphasis is on cramming 70% of new development into our established suburbs.
The first speaker, Prof. Michael Buxton, from RMIT, explained how this will affect the existing residents in these areas. He was supported by the Shadow Planning Minister, David Davis, who made the negative issues  very clear.  Several other politicians added their concerns while other speakers were mainly group repesentatives from resident groups across Melbourne. 
We estiimated that over 300 attended the rally based upon the number of handouts issued. 
We will keep up the pressure on Planning  Minister Richard Wynne, who is not sympathetic to the concerns of residents, but continues to approve more and more unacceptable developments that are ruining Melbourne's reputation as a very liveable city.
 LATEST: We have recieved a letter from David Davis, Shadow Minister for Planning, committing the Liberals to restoring  NRZ & GRZ protections if elected. A copy of the letter is attached (see above).
NOTE: Under the changes to Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 10 or more dwellings could now be built on a single block in the Neighbourhood Resdential Zone (NRZ). Previously the maximum allowed was only two dwellings per block.
Would you like a 10 dwelling multy- storey block of flats built next door? We don't think so. 
More recently the media has been flooded with arguments from so called experts supporting population growth pushing developing high rise in the inner and middle suburbs. In addition Infrastructure Australia has come out with a plan to pack high rise into suburban Melbourne from Sunshine to Box Hill. 
We make the point that it won't stop there, the push will continue up and out. Ask you local political representatives if they are in favour of all this growth and, if they are, ask them what happens when we double our population in the next 35/30 years. Do we keep doubling up in the following 25/30 years?
Our political masters must be made to back off and come up with a sensible population policy that is sustainable including a reduction of migration back to the 70,000 pa we traditionally accepted. At that rate we would still lead the industrialized nations for accepting migrants and could not be criticized for not meeting our international responsibilities.

Population Growth

To discuss Australia's population boom is to invite criticism from many accusing us of racism. But the subject is about numbers not necessarily racial issues.
 Did you know that Australia has the highest rate of population growth of all the OECD countries and 75% of this growth is in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth with over 24% of that growth in Melbourne. While our natural increase is fairly stable the main growth comes from high migration which has tripled from around 80,000 pa to 250,000 pa in recent years. Note: the nearly 2 million long stay visa holders are never counted in the published population figures which is obviously aimed to mislead us.
While population growth is far too often linked with economic growth, the Productivity Commission clearly states that the growth of  real income per ca-pita is virtually negligible and what there is goes mainly to the new arrivals. Ask yourself are you better off than 10 years ago? Most likely not for the economists say that our incomes have not kept pace with inflation. The government always uses the GDP figure which indicates  steady growth but this is misleading for the real indicator is GDP "per ca-pita" which has been going backwards for some years.
One of the main concerns is that while the development industry does well out of this growth, our attempts to cope with the resulting infrastructure requirements are not keeping up with the demands of the existing citizens let alone with the requirements of  doubling Melbourne's population within the next 25/30 years.
Poor planning controls have lead to developers getting away with constructing vertical slums containing very small micro-apartments of under 50 square meters with no bedroom windows. These would not be accepted in Hong Kong, Tokyo or New York. So why do we accept this shoddy practice here? Recent changes by the Andrew's government have not really improved this situation.
Of course the reality is that developers pay vast sums to lobby our political parties and also make political donations with the result that pretty well all of our politicians tell us they support population growth. 
Its way past time that we banned political donations from the development industry because it encourages graft and corruption.
What we need to do is lobby just as hard to ensure that our politicians carry out their role of looking after their constituents  for the long term rather than looking after the developers who make donations. Ask your local member what happens in 25/30 years when the population of Melbourne doubles?  Does the growth suddenly stop or does it double again in the next 25/30 years?
Our lack of proper planning encourages this "Ponzie" scheme of more and more houses for more and more people until we end up like the masses in the third world .Do our political leaders care? Certainly not for they are investing in land speculation and property as hard as they can to get rich rewards from the propery boom, which results from such high migration. 
And don't forget the nearly 2 million visa holders in Australia right now, all needing to find somewhere to live, but they are not included in our population growth figures. 
The answer is to cut migration to a more sustainable level of ,say, around the 80,000 to 100,000 pa  level which would  be more that the OECD average and would still enable us to meet our international obligations. And we should also cut back on our visa programs.
Think about this: in recent years we accepted more migrants per annum than the UK. Our present rate of population growth is around 1.7% and has been up to 2.2% which is more than twice that of the world average of 1.1% and way ahead of UK, USA, FRANCE and the other OECD countries. 
Melbourne's current rate of growth is even higher at 2.4% pa. To give you some idea what this means - it's like cramming another Ballarat or a MCG at capacity into Melbourne every year. No wonder our roads are clogged and our public transport is struggling to cope. It will only get worse.
There is more on this subject in other posts on this site.
 See above for "The big Australian Illusion". It sets out the reality.

07 March, 2018



12 February, 2018


I came across this item from some years ago. It is from Kelvin Thomson's Blog when he was an MP in the labor party. It is just as relevant today as it was when written. The full article is attached above.........
"Do our governments really govern us? Or do they respond more to big business which in reality controls wealth creation, job creation and growth?" The attached blog from Kelvin Thomson MP makes the point that in a deregulated economy politicians haven't controlled interest rates, the exchange rates, wages or prices for decades. The power base has shifted to trans-national corporations which operate oblivious of national borders (and many don't pay their fair share of tax). These large corporations are dis-empowering governments and Kevin says we should not go further down this path........he also raises the concurrent issue of infrastructure provision for rapidly growing populations (upon which these corporations rely) and states that no council, State or Federal authorities are able to keep up. 
Please read the full article (attached above).

15 January, 2018


For some time we have been banging on about our population growth while our politicians keep telling us that population growth is essential for our economic growth. But do we really understand what is actually growing?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports our economic growth using the increase in GDP (Growth Domestic Product) but what is not usually understood is that there is a disconnect between GST and our living standards. Actually while GST has been continually growing, the ABS has confirmed that our living standards have been shrinking. While GST has had uninterupted growth for many years, annual growth in real GDP per capita has been 1 to 2 percentage points lower.The reality is that our individual prosperity depends upon economic growth exceeding population growth so while we are experiencing population growth, largely through migration growing faster than our economy, we are essentailly going backwards.
Because it does not serve the interests of our politicians due to large political donations by  the business lobby groups (who repesent big business which relies upon the influx of new customers largely through migration) the government continues to report GDP growth rather than GDP per capita. The governments of both major parties have been using smoke and mirrors to deliberately mislead us. 
BRAG raised this issue with Josh Frydenberg (our local federal member) but we don't expect to see any real change. It will need the force of numbers to push this issue so what about telling your local politicians that you want our economic reports based upon 
Real GDP per capita not the misleading GDP