I've read plenty of silly articles in my time, but the naive nonsense from the President of the Australian Population Institute (wonder who funds it?) just about takes the cake.
Ms Jane Nathan says in today's Age 16 July 2015 that Melbourne is headed for eight million by 2050, and goes on to describe what it will be like in the most wildly optimistic tones imaginable. She says "our social harmony, kaleidoscopic culture, clean food, innovative education systems and greatly reduced crime rates are the envy of the world. Our neighbourhoods are artistic, green and pristine".
Sounds like paradise. The problem is, there is no evidence to support it. Indeed all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Rapid population growth in Melbourne has produced higher crime rates, with domestic violence and the ice epidemic blighting our city. Education for our young people has more costly and less valuable, with increasing graduate unemployment and alarming reports of dodgy private training colleges and cheating at universities. The risk of terrorist attack is higher. And as for green and pristine, just this week it was reported that even common Australian birds, like the Willy Wagtail and the Kookaburra, were being sighted much less frequently. The reason for this is that the streets of mature gardens that used to give our birds food and shelter have been replaced by multi-unit developments and high rise. The vegetation has been destroyed, and the birds have died out.
And the evidence from cities overseas which have got to eight million and more is pretty clear too. Terrible traffic congestion, lousy housing affordability, poor quality open space, big gaps between rich and poor, and an underclass of poverty, drugs and crime. Ms Nathan can endeavour to talk up eight million and sell it as an exciting future all she likes, but there is absolutely no evidence to warrant this "she'll be right" approach to rapid population growth.
Kelvin Thomson MP