What benefit from one million extra residents? (AUG)

15 February 2009

Media Releases 2009

Aug 18, 2002

The onus of proof is on the Bracks’ Government to explain what benefit there will be to squeezing a million more residents into already overcrowded Melbourne, according to the Victorian branch of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

In the Metropolitan Strategy, to be released next month, Melbourne’s 31 local councils will be grouped into five regions each with a population target, with 60 per cent of the estimated 620,000 new households within Melbourne’s current boundaries.

President of SPA (Vic) Dr Peter Carter says that Melbourne another million people will only lead to further congestion, pollution and loss of quality of life.

“It will be difficult to supply sufficient infrastructure for such population growth,” says Dr Carter. “NSW Premier Bob Carr has already gone to the Minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, saying his Government is unable to keep pace in supplying infrastructure for an extra 50,000 people a year. Sydney’s growth is only just ahead of that in Melbourne.

“Housing supply has fallen behind demand in recent years with consequent inflation in house prices and rentals, further marginalising the poor,” he says. “Even if sufficient housing could be built to meet demand, the state Government is still obliged to build schools, hospitals, roads and provide public transport for all the extra people.”

Dr Carter also said the critical issue was water supply.

“Melbourne’s dams are 52 per cent capacity at the moment and water restrictions may need to be introduced in the spring,” he says. “This may be a foretaste of things to come with CSIRO forecasting a general drying of the southern half of the continent in coming decades under climate change.

“As Melbourne’s population grows, it will be forced to recycle sewage for drinking water, build expensive desalination plants or buy water from farmers in the rest of the state. These are options already facing Perth which appears to be experiencing global climate change already.”

Dr Carter says that an increased population may cause GDP to rise, but not necessarily GDP per capita.

“Even if GDP per capita did rise with population growth, there is too high a price to pay in increased housing costs and loss of general amenity, notably open spaces and woodlands in Greater Melbourne’s much loved green wedges,” he concluded.

Further information:

Peter Carter Ph: 03 9707 2098

Sheila Newman Ph: 03 9783 5047

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E: info@population.org.au

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