Tim Colebatch's report on the rapid growth of Melbourne raises the question, is this growth good for Melbourne? As he points out, during the last decade Melbourne's population grew by much more than any other Australian city. Melbourne grew by over 647,000 people, with Sydney the next largest with an increase of 477,000.
It is clear that the pace of this growth has been way too rapid for State and local governments, as well as public and private infrastructure providers, to cope with. The consequences have been severe, with travel times to and from work blowing out, electricity and council rates skyrocketing, residents losing their ability to preserve their street scape and neighborhood character, and young people unable to afford a house with a backyard anywhere near where they grew up.
It doesn't have to be this way. As Tim Colebatch reports, 60 per cent of this growth came from overseas migration. Both our permanent and temporary migrant worker programs were greatly increased during the last decade, supposedly to deal with the mining boom, but instead many migrant workers end up in Melbourne. The migrant worker programs should be returned to the level of the 1990s and 1980s, and Melbourne would be able to cope much better than it is at present.
This is first and foremost the responsibility of the Federal Government, but it would help if State and local government started calling for it, instead of behaving like drivers of the getaway car, which is what they have done all too often during the past decade.