Infrastructure Victoria has released a incredibly superficial propaganda report, entitled Growing Victoria’s Potential, spruiking the benefits that could arise from the state’s manic population growth, which is expected to see Melbourne’s population balloon to 8 million people by 2051.
Below are key extracts from the Executive Summary along with some key charts:
Victoria is growing faster than at any other time in the state’s history and Melbourne is forecast to soon become Australia’s most populous city. Victoria has a remarkable opportunity to harness its growing population and thrive in an increasingly competitive global economy…
Any conversation about Victoria’s population growth must include a discussion of population density. While Melbourne is projected to remain a low density city by global standards, even as it reaches 8 million people, there are important choices to be made about how Melbourne grows. These choices include where and how to channel medium and higher density living in Melbourne, the rate of expansion of Melbourne’s urban footprint, and how infrastructure can best support each approach. All these choices will come with trade-offs…
It is true that rapid population growth is placing considerable demands on Victoria’s infrastructure and some parts of the state are struggling to keep up. Managing this change won’t always mean building new things. Getting our policy and planning settings right to make the most of our infrastructure, and leveraging existing infrastructure where we can, will be key. Ensuring that new infrastructure aligns strongly with the way Victorians want to work and live will also be crucial.
All of this needs to be underpinned by effective implementation of integrated infrastructure and land use planning. While recent action on this front has been positive, we believe that an even more integrated approach to infrastructure and land use planning can address many of the challenges associated with population growth. We are seeking to capitalise on momentum already underway across government to improve this integration and the 2020 strategy will identify opportunities for further reform.
Our goal is to develop a strategy that can realise Victoria’s potential by turning strong population growth into great outcomes for the state.
We want to ensure Victoria is best placed to not just be a growing state, but a thriving one.
Buried towards the back of the report is the explicit admission that Victoria’s infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the manic population growth, with the situation projected to worsen in the future [my emphasis]:
For many Victorians, the most visible signs of infrastructure ‘under pressure’ are crowded trains and trams, and congested roads. Our analysis for Melbourne suggests that over the past decade not only have travel times increased, but the reliability of travel time has declined as parts of the network approach capacity. Despite significant capacity increases, our analysis suggests that road congestion will worsen in Melbourne in future, with average travel times per trip increasing by 12% from 2016 to 2051, despite trips actually becoming shorter.
Non-transport infrastructure will also feel the pressure of growth. In some parts of Victoria, rapid population growth is putting pressure on the capacity of infrastructure, such as water supply to meet community needs. Western Water, which serves a wide range of communities from smaller country towns like Woodend and Lancefield to the expanding urban centres of Melton and Sunbury, forecasts that demand will outstrip supply as early as 2021. Beyond this, the number of residential lots serviced by Western Water is forecast to almost quadruple by 2067, mostly in the high growth areas of Sunbury and Melton.
Let’s remember that Infrastructure Australia has already modelled the outcomes for Melbourne as its population surges to a projected 7.3 million by 2048 under three development scenarios, namely:
- Expanded Low density: 60% of development to take place in existing urban areas;
- Rebalanced Medium density: 70% of development to take place in existing urban areas; and
- Centralised High density: 80% of development to take place in existing urban areas.
Under every single development scenario, liveability in Melbourne is projected to deteriorate, with increased congestion and commute times, as well as reduced access to jobs, schools, hospitals and green space:
Infrastructure Australia’s 2018 report, entitled Planning Liveable Cities, also found that Australia’s infrastructure provision is failing badly to keep pace with rapid population growth:
Infrastructure delivery is struggling to keep pace with rapid population growth and change. Our largest cities are ‘playing catch up’ in delivering infrastructure to support population growth… Our infrastructure funding mechanisms have not kept pace with growth… Communities are increasingly disappointed by their experience of growth…
And in the same report, Infrastructure Australia warned that infrastructure provision is become increasingly expensive, leading to over-reliance on existing capacity:
…construction of new infrastructure is often more expensive, due to the need to tunnel under existing structures or purchase land at higher costs. The small scale, incremental nature of growth in established areas can also lead to an over-reliance on existing infrastructure, which can result in congestion and overcrowding.
The empirical (‘lived’) experience of the past 15 years of hyper immigration-driven population growth has unambiguously seen congestion increase and amenity fall.
Infrastructure Victoria is spinning fairy tales in asserting that Melbourne can magically add another three-plus million people without causing a massive degradation of living standards.
Nobody should be surprised by this propaganda, given Infrastructure Victoria’s board is stacked with big business representatives, which privatise the gain from having more people via expanding their domestic markets and lowering wage costs:
Michel (Masson) started his career at Deloitte before joining the Bollore Group where he held various senior finance positions in the transport and logistics division in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. In 2005 he joined Keolis as head of Finance and Operations for the International Division where he was responsible for leading public transport operations in seven countries and held various non-executive director positions in UK and German rail franchises.
“Jim Miller chairs the Infrastructure Victoria board. He is also Vice Chair at J.P. Morgan, an Advisory Board Member at Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Director at Household Capital…Jim was an Executive Director at Macquarie Capital from 1994-2015…”
“Maria Wilton’s experience in the investment industry spans thirty years. Maria is a member of the global Board of Governors of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute…”
“Ann (Sherry) is one of Australia’s leading business executives with a career that spans Government, Banking and…”
Infrastructure Victoria is like a meeting place for the very people who represent the champions of mass immigration and development.