Melbourne grinds to a halt on insane population growth

By Leith van Onselen

Yesterday’s annual population data for Australia’s capital cities revealed that Melbourne’s population grew by an insane 108,000 people in the 2015-16 financial year:

With the city adding a whopping one million people (a 27% increase) in the 12 years to 2016:

Micro-data from the ABS also revealed that the lion’s share of Melbourne’s population increase has occurred in the Northern and Western Suburbs:

And predictably, this has caused massive problems for infrastructure in these areas, which has reached breaking point. From The Age today:

When Gaurav Surati moved to Australia 13 years ago, he went to Sydney. Shocked by the cost of living there, he came to Melbourne, moving to the city’s north “without much knowledge of the suburbs”.

After he’d been there a while, he realised something: Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs are in a bad way.

“The congestion on these roads … [they are like] something that was designed 50 years ago,” says the Indian-born IT worker.

Melbourne is booming, faster than ever before, and the city’s northern and north-west suburbs are bearing the brunt of this rapid growth – which is outstripping anywhere else in Australia.

But new infrastructure has not kept up with the demands of new residents…

A month ago, Mr Surati started posting in a closed Facebook group, Dire state of infrastructure in Northern suburbs of Melbourne. It now has almost 700 members…

“Everyone’s gripe is the same thing: the roads, the train station, the traffic. As a side effect, because of this frustration, people are more prone to breaking the laws”…

“They should have done a lot earlier, with roads and other infrastructure. They’re just trying to play catch up now, and I’m not sure they ever will.”

I’ve got news for you, Mr Surati: the infrastructure situation is going to get much worse. The Victorian Government’s own population projections have Melbourne’s population growing by 97,000 people per annum (1,870 people a week) over the next 30 years to more than 8 million by 2051:

The fact of the matter is that there is no way that the State Government can build enough infrastructure to keep up with this growth. It hasn’t done so as Melbourne’s population ballooned by one million over the past 12 years, and it won’t do so as it’s population rises by another 3.4 million people over the next 35 years.

Instead of complaining to your Facebook group, how about you and your 700 members lobby the federal and state government to rein-in Australia’s mass immigration program? It is mass immigration, after all, that is driving Melbourne’s population growth and destroying living standards for you and your fellow citizens.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. Meh. All these extra people have pushed up the value of my house a lot. Capital gains, baby. And tax-free, too.

    As for the crowded roads, yeah, it’s a little worse where I live, but not that bad.

    I’m all right, Jack.

    • Depressingly spot-on..

      The immediate benefits (both social/cultural and economic) of massive unplanned population growth is captured by well serviced inner-suburbanites. The costs are bourne by under-serviced outer suburbs, via congestion. The kicker is that businesses love the suppressed wage growth and also have a swathe of new suburbs they can roll out their exisitng business models into (think coles/woolies and retail banking). Nothing better than a captured market who doesnt ask for pay rises.

      That congestion is capitalised into the land prices of less-congested inner suburbs (whos inhabitants can now work less, as their income has shifted from labour to capital, and worry less about depressed wage growth).

      • You’ve described my situation exactly.

        Inner suburban property owner, well serviced by still fairly non-crowded public transport and I have a business that benefits from population growth – lots of customers and lots of people willing to work at the wages I am prepared to pay. The only thing not to like is the number of new apartments in my area, but the neighbours and I have been quite successful with objections to the local council to delay and make the developments smaller.

        It’s all good for me.

      • I too live in the inner-suburbs and enjoy the relative lack of congestion and excellent services. My neighbours too are NIMBYs (they’re typically 10-20 years older than me and my partner) and are fairly good at keeping out the riff raff. Although they claim to be worried about amenity and dogbox overdevelopment (legitimate concerns) they’re fairly transparent in their opposition to anything and everything that pricks their attention – all while claiming to be socially progressive and have care for their fellow man (safest of labor seats too).
        I struggle with this cognitive dissonance. The prospects of my friends/family are materially impacted by these clowns I call neighbours – and although they are notionally good people, they have a distinct inability to appreciate how their actions are having significant negative impacts on the communities they claim to care about.

  2. First cancer cell turns to the second cancer cell and says “Hey! How great is this pristine liver?!?”

    Time passes.

    First cancer cell says to his old mate second cancer cell “WTF is with all these other cancer cells here?!? Man, this liver used to be fantastic.”

    Liver dies.

    • The immigrants themselves are not the problem. It’s the problem of incumbent Australians using their new neighbours as a source of economic extraction. It’s a form of slavery.

  3. Bernard Salt had a good infrastructure whinge on LinkedIn recently, so that should solve the problem.

    • Probably worth noting that 20% of Victoria’s growth was NIM (in year to Jun ’16).
      Indeed, if NIM had been zero, Vic population growth would have been 1.7%, closer to the Australian average than to the final figure. Effectively, Victoria continuing to outrun the rest of the country is dependent on the rest of the country continuing to decide to move to Victoria, which in turn seems dependent on Victoria not becoming less attractive compared to other states for any reason.

      • 20% NIM is quite high and surprising really, given the cost of housing. Mmmm…. what is going on?

      • Yes, and the high NIM is being driven to a large extent by immigration into Sydney which is pushing people into Melbourne (and elsewhere).

        Almost all of Australia’s population growth is being driven by immigration, which also juices “natural increase” as recent migrants have kids.

      • NIM to Vic a fair bit higher than out of NSW. With flow out of NSW at 65% flow into Vic, I’d guess that less than half of Vic’s inward flow relates to NSW (you’d have to think a big chunk of Qld’s gain came from NSW)
        NIM out of NSW has been constantly at high levels since at least 2003 (32k people left that year, and 30k left the following year, against a backdrop of considerably lower NOM and population growth overall), but NIM into Vic at these levels is considerably more recent. Indeed, when NSW NIM outlfow was at its highest, Vic was also experiencing an outflow (Qld the main beneficiary)
        Ultimately, people were leaving NSW for elsewhere in Australia in big numbers long before the hikes in immigration, and as NOM into Australia has grown, the flow out of NSW has decreased, almost at the same time (it’s actually extremely tempting, if you plot a scatter plot of NSW NIM against Australia NOM since 2003 to conclude that bringing people into Australia in greater numbers is correlated with fewer, not greater, numbers of people leaving NSW)

        As for people coming to Vic, we can probably rule out the weather, and the Victorian government’s brilliance at making Melbourne a better place to live.

      • NIM is driven by relative factors. Housing is expensive, but less so than NSW.
        People are not moving to WA and QLD. The mines are shifting to production phase and dont need as many workers. The job market in VIC is better than SA and TAS.

      • Robert
        Is there age data on the NIM? Could it be returning older generations who sought a sea change and then returned to ‘families’? Anecdotal evidence shows the outflow of QLD is somewhat due to this factor.

      • I think the best you can do is check census data for changes in median age of Australian born and work backwards.

    • Almost all population growth is caused by immigration, one way or the other. Recent migrants have children, which is recorded as “natural increase”. Similarly, immigration into, say, Sydney pushes people into Melbourne (and other places), which is labelled “interstate migration”.

      This is why the Productivity Commission projects that Australia’s population would peak at 27 million mid-century under zero net overseas migration, versus 40 million under current settings – a difference of 13 million people.

      In short, immigration is by far the biggest driver of Australia’s population growth.

      • Leith
        I think I will leave the argument that ‘babies’ are immigrants or are related to our NOM. Quite a long stretch for me as the highest fertility rates in Australia are actually the Indigenous rates.
        ‘Natural increase and NOM contributed 44.6% and 55.4% respectively to total population growth for the year ended 30 September 2016.’ – ABS

        Once again I must draw attention to your 40 million by 2050, since you once again quote this number.

        That would require a net increase of 484,848 per year for the next 33 years which is significantly higher that any recent increases. In reality, we know our natural growth will decline as deaths increase, slowly at first but then quite dramatically demographically speaking. 80 years after a baby boom, comes a death bust.

        So tto get to 40 million, his would mean a dramatic overall increase to immigration to get to a 484k number by around 2030, when natural growth will already be in decline. My calculations have us at approx 32 million by 2050 and that is still allowing for quite large increases in NOM to compensate for the falling natural growth. That is also not a given as it depends on the political will to increase the NOM and also our competitiveness as a nation, competing and attracting skilled labour.

      • Note that, a little counter-intuitively, when UE says ‘mid-century’ he often means 2060 i.e the PC project at steady NOM of 200k, we get to 41 million by 2060. Presumably, at NOM steady roughly the average of the last three years, it would be no more than a few million lower. In comparison, reading off the chart, the PC projection for 2050 at steady 200k NOM looks to be about 35 million, so not that different to you.

        Personally, I’d favour the UN projection, which takes into account the demographics of the rest of the world, and hence models the scenario where NOM to Australia gradually tapers off, giving 33.5 million by 2050, 35.8 million by 2060 and 42.4 million by the end of the century.

  4. We talk about population Ponzi schemes. What about a GDP Ponzi scheme? Ultimately that is what it is all about – ramp up the numbers to drive GDP? Too bad for living standards – traffic, costs etc. If that is economic growth – you can have it. I would rather economic growth take place without out of control housing prices, traffic, rip off schooling costs, living costs etc. I would say Melbourne is in a living standards recession.

    • This.
      On a per capita basis, notionally successufully economies (like Victoria) have barely budged in a decade.

      So long as Australia’s monopolistic companies can role out their existing business models to ever more customers (notice how retail highstreets suddenly look exactly the same, everywhere? Coles + woolies + bakers delight + subway sandwiches. done!)

      • per head gdp goes nowhere while amenity goes down

        this is a permanent recession by another name

  5. If only Australia had let the Japanese have it instead of fighting over it in the 40s. We would have saved millions of dollars, thousands of lives and been a cleaner, more organized and technology based economy. Instead we’re set to become either Indian or Chinese, much dirtier, less organized and overpopulated.

    • Um, have you seen the toilets in Japan?

      We need to legalise luxury showers and toilets to be cleaner and smell better.

      Is there or is there not enough water to go around? If no, then slash low-wage immigration. If yes, then legalise luxury showers and toilets.

      • Japan has toilets. Unlike India and China. And of course Sydney taxi drivers use laneways.

    • That’s true : or even the South Australia metropolis fir Japanese elderly to be stuck in some Adelaide wasteland in a segrated community.
      That would have been better than third world unskilled amoral Chinese & Indian migrants only here to loot and steal.

      • Not to mention half of Australia’s methamphetamine coming from China, or the laundering of Chinese money from drugs, prostitution and counterfeiting

  6. During the week I happened to tune in to 3AW one morning. During the non-stop commercials, Neil Mitchell was interviewing Canadian, international planning “expert” Brent Toderian.
    I didn’t listen to the whole interview (too many bloody commercials) but the one thing that they did not talk about was Melbourne’s rampant population growth.

  7. And Mr Surati is probably doing a job that can be done by an Aussie/Kiwi.

    Ditto his wife.

    Thus denying 2 Aussies a job.

    I have met 2 Indian men separately:

    One said “there is too much immigration into AUS” and the other said “the infrastructure is not keeping up”. There is nothing wrong with pulling the ladder up and these men should vote for SAP and ONP.

  8. One in five people in Sydney or Melbourne is a temporary or tourist visa unskilled third world migrant ~ usually working illegally and making little or no contribution to our society.
    1,930,000 temporary visa holders (ABF / ABS)
    403,000 illegally working tourist visa holders (ABF estimate of the 8 million tourist arrivals here)
    85,000 overstayers.
    2.4 million.
    86% concentration in Sydney and Melbourne.
    That’s 2 million or 1 million each.
    One in five people : at least.

    95% unskilled on any measure.
    Over 2 million working illegally in some form.
    ‘Labour services’, ‘cash in hand’, false names, fake timesheets, fake wages with takeback paid to the agent or employer organiser, non Australian ethnic aligned discriminationary hiring : this is now routine.

    Destroying jobs, wages, housing, education and our standard of living.
    The money.
    They only ‘bring in’ $4.2 billion (declared funds IEA & ABF data and Tourism Australia)

    Most of the ‘colleges’ or labour services or other rackets are foreign owned migrant procurement and money washing rackets.
    Same with the ‘tourist’ rackets, vertically owned foreign criminal syndicates exploiting the visa programs & running underground illegal housing, labor services and vice rackets as employment for the third world migrant labour.

    These 2.4 million pretext temporary or tourist visa migrant guestworkers now remit or xfer out $36 billion (world bank 2016).
    A -2% GDP impact – the largest asymmetrical outflow of any OECD country in migrant guestworker xfer.

    They have destroyed housing : over 400,000 first home owner level Australian residential dwellings units and houses now converted to the highly lucrative cash in hand sub let bunk and mattress share racket : itself a $23 billion undeclared cash in hand money flow.
    They have destroyed education, the quality and the cost as education services raced to the bottom to provide ‘8 year old level English courses’ as a ticket clipper for a migrant vice worker or shelf stacker visa pretext.
    They have destroyed jobs : 1.1 million Aussies unemployed and another 1.1 million seeking work.
    They have destroyed health care and emergency services, many uninsured or not entitled just present to emergency care & tens of billions impact when as the second stage impact when they do get a PR.
    never paid any contribution and never will.
    They have destroyed social and public transport infrastructure, and our standard of living.
    Massive unassimilated slums now stretch like a fetid patchwork of third world squalor, violence, crime, vice and the wider congestion all across our cities.

    Where is the political focus on this?
    When will we see a Royal Commission into the visa rackets that are destroying Australia.

    • A Royal Commission will just recommend more red tape.

      The solution is to put a simple $50k/year fee on each 457 visa.

      Why is it ok to have 1 simple corporate tax rate but not 1 simple fee on each 457 visa?

  9. Everyone is a morally superior SJW until mass immigration affects them. I can’t wait until Labor gets back in. We probably ain’t seen nothin yet.

  10. Is it coincidental that similar arguments re. need for restricting ‘immigrants’ etc. have been used by both Brexit campaigners and media, ditto Trump? What is the ‘final solution’?

  11. The Patrician

    Funny how people say accelerating population growth is just Syd/Mel thing
    Have a look at Brisbane