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Tale of two cities a happy story for inner suburbs


Jason Dowling and Richard Willingham


MELBOURNE may be developing as two cities — ''a successful and choice-rich inner core and a fringe with fewer choices'' — a government report has warned.

The discussion paper on planning Melbourne's future, released by the Baillieu government, warns that housing has become less affordable, pushing people further out to where there are fewer services and jobs.

''Not all areas of Melbourne present equal opportunities for economic and social participation,'' the report said.

It warns that ''newer communities on the fringe of the city sometimes have reduced access to jobs, and social and community services''.

In just two decades the number of people fully owning a home in Melbourne has dropped from 40 to 30 per cent and the number of people paying off a mortgage has risen from 30 to 35 per cent.

The report said ''people with less money to spend [who are at greater risk of mortgage stress] can only buy in Melbourne's outer suburban fringe if they want to own a detached house''.

It said while housing might be cheaper further out, transport costs were higher, with much greater car reliance and car-operating costs increasing.

The Age reported yesterday that households on Melbourne's median income of $70,300 a year were being blocked from the city's housing market with few suburbs now affordable.

The new 100-page report, called ''Melbourne, let's talk about the future'', was developed by a committee led by Professor Roz Hansen and has been released by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

The aim of the report is to generate public debate and feedback on how the city should be developed over the next four decades.

Ideas raised in the report include the development of a new airport to the south-east of Melbourne to serve ''one-third of Victoria's population'', expanding the CBD with 220,000 new residents, including deep into Carlton, and developing a ''20-minute city'' where jobs and services are within 20 minutes of home.

Mr Guy said the 20-minute city might not work all the time.

''It depends where you are, it obviously depends on the day, it depends on the location and what you are aiming to do, it's a conceptual idea about getting Melbourne and the services for people within a 20-minute time frame of their location,'' he said.

He denied that building a rail line to Tullamarine airport would be cheaper than building a new airport in the south-east because, he said, the new airport would be privately financed.

Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the government had to provide more opportunities to people living in Melbourne's newest suburbs.

''Without public transport or jobs, Mr Baillieu's outer suburbs become poverty traps with two-car families wrestling with higher petrol prices and rising costs of living,'' he said.

Jennifer Cunich, from the Property Council, welcomed the planning discussion paper and said there should be no ''sacred cows in this important community debate''.

''The property sector is glad to see that the prospect of a depoliticised metropolitan planning authority has been raised for discussion,'' she said.


  • The State Government refuses to recognise that the current rate of immigration is unsustainable. Reportedly 2000 new settlers arrive a week in Melbourne to join our rapidly expanding population. Our infrastructure and services cannot keep up with demand. Every day we have reports eg from hospital emergency departments struggling to cope; schools full up, public transport desperately overcrowded and road traffic in gridlock. One reason why the Brumby Government lost seats along the sand belt was the resentment by voters at overcrowded trains. If the previous Labor Government failed to catch up with infrastructure for a growing poulation, then Baillieu is falling further behind. The greatest tragedy is the failure to construct railways to service the outer suburbs as well as inner Melbourne - the last railway was built to Glen Waverly in 1930! Instead of one East West Link costing $10 billion we could have the Doncaster Rail Link, a Rowville line and a rail line to the Airport. This would substantially reduce car dependance and prepare us for when oil runs out. Governments should listen to Kelvin Thomson Federal Member for Wills and Dick Smith, advocates for a sustainable population and capping migration at 70,000 a year. We need a review to determine the population Australia can sustainably support with avaliable resources before we cover over the arable land with housing estates, sell off valuable farming land to overseas.corporations and allow new residential unit development plus city tower blocks to be sold off the plan to overseas property speculators or companies who want to "park" their funds in Australia. The State Government appears to be committed to endless growth and unduly inflenced by property developers, land speculators and the road lobby to save Victoria from a third world future.

    Julianne Bell
    Date and time
    October 27, 2012, 1:18AM
    • What do you expect from a government headed by a real estate agent dressed in a suit - you get what you vote for. Its time those voters actually thought ahead more

      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 9:03AM
    • "By 2050 Melbourne's population is likely to reach between 5.4 and 6.4 million people" . It's no accident that our numbers are swelling. However, according to a government document, "Victoria in the Future 2012", over the next 40 years to 2051 Victoria’s population is projected to increase by 3.2 million to 8.7 million! With immigration numbers increasing, by stealth, there simply is an addiction to growth and no population plan, or nothing being done to address any sustainability issues. Matthew Guy and our Victorian government are living in a parallel universe of endless resources and infinite growth! The reality is quite different, and we should be stabilizing our numbers, our consumption levels, and stop forcing the public to endure rising debts and costs of living. Indigenous peoples got displaced from their traditional lands, and now Australians are increasingly being displace by cashed-up wealthy immigrants. Addiction to growth should be addressed by a good dose or reality, and perhaps some therapy!!!

      Mary G
      Rosanna Vic
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 9:30AM
    • @Julianne Bell, well said but a key ingrediant to why this bad situation is evolving and getting worse to the point of social unrest is POLITICAL DONATION.
      In any report you read anywhere around the world states that this is the chief cause regarding why money moves out of the lower and middle class into the wealthy elite.
      The property developers are the biggest funders and the Baillieu family are very wealthy real estate developers for decades now. We must demand political donation removed from politics altogether so a company is no more than one vote just like any other citizen. Only then will you see sensible decision being made. Instead of reading in a 5 sentence article years after Baillieu has left politics that his families wealth grew five fold during and after his term in politics.

      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 9:59AM
    • Where did you read the 2000 figure? Victoria grew 82,000 people in the March Y/Y quarter - 90% of that in Melbourne - so 74,000 in Melbourne - that does not equate to 2000 new settlers a week. In fact it's what Kelvin "everyone should have a nuclear family in the suburbs" Thompson thinks we should cap the population at.

      I'm no Failleu apologist but do you have any idea how much lead time is required to order more trains (1-2 years), train drivers (at least a year), upgrade track (varies depending on what you have to do), study new "best suited" PT services (years - and Rowville/Doncaster direct services to the CBD are -not- the best way to get bang for the Victorian buck)? Didn't think so.

      A Taylor
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 10:18AM
    • Well stated Julianne.

      Neil (not on radio) Mitchell
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 10:19AM
    • In my lifetime Melbourne has gone from being an extremly pretty and pleasant city and a joy to drive around, into an overcrowded dump. In the last 30-40 years we have been travelling down a path that has ruined many of our beautiful buildings, hopelessly clogged our roads, tribalised our suburbs with chronic multicultuarlism and watched as our quality of life has evaporated. Sydney is worse. The current state government is no different to Brumby and co and to make matters worse there appears no end in sight. Sydney and Melbourne were once such nice cities.

      capr republic
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 10:37AM
    • Well Said, A stable steady and slowing growing Australia as opposed to rampant growth and declining living standards.

      I'm only 26 and I've seen the country become almost unrecognisable in the last 20 or so years, thankfully I will be US based for the next 20.

      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 10:47AM
    • That's all very fine, but to do what your saying means that living standards need to decline as the population ages as who will pay the taxes when the population growth slows to a crawl? So its all well and good to bang on about capping population growth, but as long as you also accept the consequences of that then you can advocate as much as you like, but you can't have something for nothing. Growth also creates jobs. New houses means building, shops, schools etc. As for comments for overseas investors wishing to park funds etc, Australia should be grateful that foreign investors are willing to invest here rather than the opposite. Travel to Europe and see what happens when there aren't the funds to provide the expected services western economies are used to. Greece is the first country heading back to the 50s living standards, others will follow. Many Western economies will be unable to sustain living standards based on their aging populations and if we are to sustain ours, then we need that growth. Otherwise, get used to living on a lot less. As for public transport, the reason why roads are preferred over railways is because private equity/investors are willing to fund those projects with tolls. Whereas with Rail, look how bad they are run now with existing infrastructure. There is also an extent of self interest and corruption involved in those projects but the truth is, the State can't afford to build the railway lines now unless it increases taxes. So its cheaper to build roads and to line the pockets of MP's who get plum jobs in private firms after they leave their posts than build new railways which less face it, are not that cheap or efficient now even with existing networks.

      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 11:08AM
    • @ MArk Oz,

      Yes that is a major problem for all levels of government. Oversight is weak and sporadic at best.
      Results from these kinds of "relationships" are very rarely in the public interest. It doesn' matter if it is Labor or Liberal, each will blame the other for doing the same thing in their turns at power.

      I know we train urban planners who must understand the problems, but it seems their advice is received and then ignored. Must be a frustrating job.

      The Greens have a policy of removing political donations.

      If you want to see real change in how our government works, Vote Green. That way proper social infrastructure will go with developments, parklands will not be threatened, top agrarian land will be preserved for farming and so on.

      Riddley Walker
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 11:18AM

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