In the current atmosphere of unprecedented political, social and environmental instability, there are some fundamental issues that SOS recommends all members should think carefully about before they vote in the current federal election.
This is a time when society is being increasingly challenged by an economy in transition and by the stress of population growth, infrastructure backlog, social fragmentation and lack of affordable housing. Representative democracy has never suffered as much lip-service and window-dressing. The major political parties continue to avoid limiting political donations and are increasingly compromised by funding from developers in particular. Trying to meet the challenge of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint while maintaining high population growth and over-developing our green suburbs makes little sense.
These issues are not just local but global. Brexit is just the latest in a sequence of political and economic events that look set to continue and worsen. Similar predictions were made as far back as 1972 when “The Limits to Growth” was released. This set of computerised global scenarios developed at MIT in the US included a “business as usual” scenario that resulted in a global economic, population and environmental collapse by around 2040. The model indicated that the global economic decline would start to become obvious by 2015/16. This is the track we are still currently following.
Computer models come and go but this is one of the rare ones which has stood the test of time. In 2014, the Melbourne University Sustainability Institute fed recent UN data into the original MIT program and demonstrated that over the last 40 years, the model’s predictions have matched real events very closely – so far. See:
This research was also featured in the Guardian:
So there is an urgent imperative to transition from traditional economic and land use systems to a more sustainable and balanced model. SOS addressed some of the related urban planning issues in a recent wide-ranging submission to the state government’s “Managing Residential Development” Advisory Committee. The submission includes links to explanatory documents. For details of the submission and its 3 appendices, see http://sos.asn.au/sospoliciesandsubmissions/
The submission explains these key points (more references are provided in the submission itself):
* Building approvals for apartments in most Melbourne suburbs have surged ahead of projected requirements and of actual demand, an unsustainable situation
* Population growth greatly increases the requirement for more infrastructure and services: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-huge-hidden-cost-of-population-growth-20160219-gmyddb.html
* There is no actual housing shortage, just too many empty investor properties and under-utilised dwellings
* Housing affordability won’t be improved by building more houses, only by reducing the levers that push up prices and rents – i.e., land banking by development corporations, inequitable investor tax concessions, inadequate controls on foreign investment in Australian property, etc: http://architectureau.com/articles/tackling-housing-unaffordability-a-10-point-national-plan/, http://soac.fbe.unsw.edu.au/2011/papers/SOAC2011_0228_final.pdf
* Most people don’t want apartments but for many it’s all they can afford:
* There is a desperate need for better and more fully integrated public transport, which can be economically feasible metro-wide, even including the outer suburbs: http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/we-can-keep-our-leafy-suburbs-and-still-save-the-planet-20091122-isqz.html
* Road traffic congestion is best addressed by public transport demand-side management and by building rail in parallel with arterial roads, an apparent contradiction known as the Downs-Thomson Paradox – more roads just encourages more traffic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downs%E2%80%93Thomson_paradox
* Many sustainability factors are not considered in our planning system
* The need for mandatory planning controls to counteract mis-management of permit assessments and to provide more certainty and consistency
* The need for deliberative community consultation in planning policy development and council governance