Two State and Federal Government reports confirm that Melbourne’s rapid population growth is harming our open space and leading to longer commuting times and declining housing affordability.
The Victorian Environment Assessment Council has told the State Government that open space per person will halve by 2026 for municipalities such as Melbourne, Hume, Whittlesea and Cardinia. The Council’s inventory of public land and open space in metropolitan Melbourne shows that rapid population growth is threatening the liveability of Melbourne suburbs as more people compete for public space such as parks and sports ovals. Its discussion paper shows that we will struggle to accommodate an extra 600,000 homes over the next 20 years, both in outer areas, with open space in Wyndham declining from 7.8 hectares per 1000 people to 3.3 hectares per 1000 people, and in inner areas, with open space in Moreland declining from 3.5 hectares per 1000 people to 2.9 hectares per 1000 people.
The Federal Government has been given a similar message. The Prime Minister’s Department’s incoming government brief has told the Prime Minister that “The perception that the quality of city life is declining is supported by declining measures of liveability (including from greater congestion and longer commuting times), declining efficiency, and a lack of affordable housing”…. “Without disciplined planning for growth, demographic pressures will negatively affect living standards, particularly in cities, as housing prices rise, congestion increases and it becomes more difficult to access services.”
These reports make clear that rapid population growth is damaging both our living standards and our quality of life. The Federal Government should reject the advice it is getting from property developers and big business, and cut Australia’s migration levels to those we used to have in the late 1970s. And the Victorian Government should not acquiesce in “Big Melbourne’ – it should protect our existing open space, both in inner Melbourne and at the city limits, and listen to the voice of residents concerning planning issues.