Our cities are overcrowded? I wonder why?

Caption: Melbourne’s new railway lines are proving quite popular.

?If you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born??– Death Cab for Cutie

It?s a strange thing, returning to the place you grew up when you?ve been away for a long time. A sense of d?j? vu, almost, where everything is still vaguely recognisable, but slightly different. Familiar landmarks are either gone or altered, so that everything resembles a palimpsest, half-erased and scribbled over.

The most disorienting thing about visiting my home grounds, these days, is just how crowded everything is. While I?ve no doubt become used to a quieter pace in Tasmania, it is undeniable that Melbourne?s suburbs are jammed to overflowing. What were once wide open spaces on the volcanic plains of Victoria are now cheek-by-jowl suburbs. What were once country towns are now absorbed into the vast urban sprawl. There is no such thing as ?peak hour? anymore, on highways that are crowded with traffic, day and night.

It?s not just me. Even Melbournians are complaining about its exponential growth. Quote:

Almost two-thirds of Victorians believe the state?s population is growing too fast, ensuring that ?issues such as urban sprawl, traffic congestion and affordability will shape policy debate leading up to the election.

A Newspoll has revealed 65 per cent of respondents are concerned by the booming population and voters are split when it comes to which political party has the best plan for managing the growth, with 33 per cent of respondents citing Labor, 30 per cent the Liberals and 37 per cent unsure.

A surge in overseas migration and university students helped boost Melbourne?s population 2.7 per cent to 4.9 million last year, making it Australia?s fastest-?growing capital city.

The city has the nation?s fastest-growing suburb, Cranbourne East, which grew 27 per cent in 2017, and one of the fastest growing municipalities, the City of Wyndham on Melbourne?s southwest fringe, which has outgrown the largest ?regional city, Geelong. End of quote.

Cranbourne and what used to be the country town of Werribee were once sleepy towns in the countryside surrounding Melbourne. Now, they are suburbs. Quote:

While federal politicians debate the merits of controlling ?migrant intakes, the challenges brought about by recent growth ? including transport, congestion, urban sprawl and social and living affordability ? feature prominently in the election campaign.

Labor Premier Daniel Andrews said investing in infrastructure, including plans for a $50 billion underground railway line that would link Melbourne?s middle suburbs, was the ?real answer? to coping with the issue. End of quote.

No, the real answer is to halt this insane metastasizing?by cutting it off at the source. Politicians and economists are addicted to migration as a cheap sugar-hit. They blather about the ?economic benefits?, which in truth add up to about $100 per Australian, per year. Many Australians are unconvinced that that?s worth the social cost. Quote:

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has taken a more aggressive stance. In his campaign launch on October 28, he mentioned ?population? 22 times, claiming growth was ?out of control?.

He has also promised a ?Coalition government would set up a population commission ? an Australian first ? to stabilise and manage growth in Melbourne and across the state, limiting growth in suburbs lacking supporting infrastructure and forcing migrants to settle in the regions.

The 61,000 residents of Point Cook, the biggest suburb in Wyndham, know first-hand what happens when investment in roads, public transport, schools and other community facilities fails to keep pace with rampant development. It has almost doubled in size in the past five years and is forecast to grow a further 30 per cent by 2041. End of quote.

Now, when I was a lad, Point Cook was a patchwork of market-gardens as far as the eye could see. Now, the rich, red volcanic soil is vanishing under McMansions. The same is happening to other areas, like the lush farmlands of the Bellarine Penninsula, near Geelong. Besides the cost in infrastructure and social cohesion, how long can Australia afford to keep turning its scarce arable lands into suburbs? Quote:

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said the Labor government was already building for population growth, with the ?biggest pipeline of infrastructure projects in Victorian history?, pointing to the West Gate Tunnel, new lanes on major freeways and removal of level crossings. End of quote.

Australian politicians are acting like a morbidly obese glutton, chugging down burgers and soft drinks, and then complaining that they have to get a bigger couch.

Time to put them on a diet.