Extension of Melbourne’s boundary opposed
Despite a promise before the last election, the Brumby state Labor government has introduced legislation to extend the urban growth boundary for Melbourne. Planning Amendment VC 67 expands Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the 284,000 houses the government expects will be needed if Melbourne’s population reaches 5 million before 2030.
About 70 people from the Green Wedge Coalition, Protectors of Public Lands and Planning Backlash protested against these plans on June 22.
According to the Protectors of Public Lands press release, “the state planning minister Justin Madden has refused to look at vacant land or brown field sites within the existing urban growth boundary. Additionally, he has refused to adopt any measures to deter developers from ‘land banking’.”
The groups organising the protest claim that the extension of the urban growth boundary will lead to the growth of urban sprawl, destruction of green wedges and decimation of arable food producing land.
Green Wedge Coalition’s secretary Rosemary West told the rally, “Amendment VC 67 will expand the urban growth boundary to replace 43,600 hectares of green wedge land with suburban sprawl.
“The urban growth boundary expansion will clear for urban development 5000 hectares of environmentally significant Western Basalt Plains grasslands, the grassy woodlands of the Maribyrnong and Merri Creek catchments with their giant red gums and 4000 hectares of the south east food-bowl where highly productive market gardens using recycled water double as southern brown bandicoot habitat.”
West said both the Labor Party and the Coalition receive big donations from developers, so the Labor Party expects to have support from the Coalition for the extension.
The protest called on all upper house MPs to vote against Planning Amendment VC 67.
When she addressed the rally, Greens MLC Colleen Hartland said she would oppose the amendment. However, Liberal MLC David Davis avoided mentioning how the Liberals would vote.
Several speakers at the rally blamed population growth on the problems facing Melbourne and accused the government of causing population growth by predicting population growth.
Bayside councillor Clifford Hayes said: “We’re under constant pressure from the government to accommodate more people. We have too many people. Our roads are congested, our council struggles to resist high rises. All of this is a direct result of unplanned population growth. More people causes social conflict.”
Planning Backlash president Brian Walsh agreed. “Melbourne is full. Full of people, full of cars”, he said.
However, the speakers arguing that Melbourne “is full”, didn’t indicate how they would stop Melbourne’s population from rising. Perhaps they support migration restrictions between different parts of Australia. And while politicians’ predictions will not actually change what the population will be in 2030, the issue is that they are being used to justify decisions to benefit developers at the expense of the environment in 2010.