The Age’s economics editor, Noel Towell, has penned an article entitled “For a fairer greener Melbourne, take a bite from the doughnut”. It calls for a redesign of Melbourne’s economy using the “doughnut” theories of Oxford University’s Kate Raworth.
“Melbourne is known as being one of the world’s most liveable cities with a great quality of life, but we also know that Melbourne and Australia have one of the biggest ecological impacts on the planet in terms of carbon emissions, material use [and] a global consumption footprint that far exceeds what the earth can sustain”…
“The doughnut invites Melbourne to ask this question; how can Melbourne become a home to thriving people in a thriving place while respecting the wellbeing of all people and the health of the whole planet?”
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I have a better idea to create a “a fairer, greener Melbourne”: stop growing the city’s population like a science experiment.
It took Melbourne around 170 years to reach a population of 3.3 million people in 2001. In the 20 years since, Melbourne’s population ballooned by a whopping 56% to nearly 5.2 million people. And before COVID, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ medium population projections had Melbourne’s population doubling again to 10.2 million people by 2066:
If these projections had been allowed to come to fruition, then Melbourne’s population would be more than tipple its 2001 size in 2066! Thankfully, COVID came along and stopped Melbourne’s growth in its tracks.
As shown in the above chart, the overwhelming driver of Melbourne’s (and Australia’s) population growth is net overseas migration (NOM) – both directly as migrants disembark from the plane and indirectly as they have children (counted as natural increase). It is the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy that has driven the extreme growth of Melbourne’s population.
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 (let alone 10.2 million by 2066) 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 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:
A recent report from Infrastructure Victoria also predicted worsening living standards as Melbourne’s population soars.
Clearly, the first and best way of creating a “fairer, greener Melbourne” is to stop flooding the city with people via mass immigration so that existing residents can enjoy what is left.
Prevention is always better than the cure.
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