It was pleasing to see Treasury Secretary Ken Henry promoting the need for an environmentally sustainable population. He said it was very clear that the population growth we have experienced to date has not been sustainable. He estimated that a sustainable population for Australia given present arrangements was 15 million.
The Baillieu Government State Treasurer Kim Wells obviously missed the speech. He said the government wanted to encourage more people to Melbourne, despite conceding booming population growth has been eroding living standards for years. He believes living standards can be maintained through better planning and higher productivity.
The magnitude of the problem of rapid population growth in Melbourne when it comes to planning, however, is illustrated by the Melbourne 2030 planning framework developed by the previous Victorian State Government for the period 2001-2030. It was based on a population of five million by 2030. It is now projected that Melbourne will in fact reach 5 million by 2020, and could reach as high as 7 million by 2030.
The Victorian Treasurer is wrong to want more people to come to Melbourne. The previous government found, to its political cost, that it’s just not possible to effectively meet the transport, health, education, housing, infrastructure etc needs of a city growing by 1500 people every week. If the Baillieu Government doesn’t work this out, the political goodwill they have as a new government will quickly vanish.