Monday, October 27, 2014

Too big, missy

The area of Greater Melbourne is nearly 1,000 square kilometres. This takes in areas that are still farmland, but good farmland continues to be given over to housing. Melbourne has a population of around 4.5 million and astonishingly the population the grown by 25% since the year 2000. Is it any wonder we complain about services not keeping up. This population growth is simply not sustainable and must be curtailed and never mind us suffering a declining standard of living if it is not curtailed, we have already suffered a decline in living standards, as anyone who tries to move about the city knows.

Australia is often accused of being a racist country and at times there may be some truth to it, but generally we live in harmony which is astonishing given around 25% of Australians were born overseas. Given immigrants don't normally go to the countryside, this must mean a figure of perhaps 30 to 35% of Australia's two big cities city dwellers were born overseas. Maybe it is higher.

Australia has been labelled as having the fourth most expensive cities in the world. No doubt there is a basket of goods and services that measure such things, against the wages people earn. Or is it judged by the value of overseas currencies? Yes, Australia can be expensive if you stick to tourist areas but even in those areas there are bargains to be had. Pubs, or hotels if you like, can offer great food at very cheap prices. Asian food can be very cheap. Even accommodation bargains can be found. Clothes can be quite cheap too. However, if you like labels on your clothes, riding around in taxi cabs, fine dining and going out to clubs at night, you will find it expensive.

In my blog you mostly see the inner area of Melbourne. Once outside the inner area, there are vast estates of mostly single storey housing sprawling for many kilometres. It can be depressing to see, but I tell myself there are people living in these houses with happy lives and who are quite content. Some may never visit the inner area of Melbourne. It is not part of their lives.

Governments have policies of increasing the population densities in the inner and middle areas to slow the urban sprawl, when the inner area is already very dense and overcrowded, yet they won't fund the public transport needed to move people around and so even people in inner areas still need and have cars.

It's is all quite exasperating. Two things I came across recently. Japan built its first Shinkansen (high speed) train line in 1964. Japan was not a rich country then and it borrowed the money from the World Bank. Now Shinkansens shoot all over Japan at 320 km/h and this will be increased to 360 km/h by 2020. They are still extending the system with a line opening to the northern island of Hokkaido in 2016.

About the same time will see the opening of the Eurostar train line from London to Amsterdam. Australia has spent tens of millions of dollars investigating a high speed line between Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra, and we have nothing, not even a plan. Instead of the miserable airport experience we endure to get to Sydney and back, we could be there in three hours by train, from the middle of Melbourne to the middle of Sydney.

The line could be built in about 10 years for about 80 billion dollars, which is not a fortune for this rich country. The money could be borrowed very cheaply as we are such a good credit risk. But in ten years time when we are a city of 5 million we still won't even have train to get us to our airport, never mind Sydney. Actually we may not even need a train to the airport if we could go to Sydney by high speed train, but then it could travel via the airport too.

Governments! Bad!

10 comments:

  1. Andrew, I have never been to Australia. But since February 2014 I have read three Australian blogs and it is short time but I think it is a good country to live and medical care is very well. I think it is cheaper than Europe and so comfortabale place to live maybe climate is unfriendly... But you can earn much much money than in Europe..

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    1. Gosia, I am interesting in people's earnings. While we did not find Europe expensive, I have looked at what people earn for basic jobs and I would say people here are better off.

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    2. Which is part of our problem. (I enjoy high wages as much as anybody) Because wages are high too many companies are folding and going overseas to pay their workers more cheaply while still maintaining a high profit margin for the managers and shareholders. I'm waiting for the day when those other countries all rise up and demand better wages and conditions. See how those bean counters like that! Where will they go then?

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    3. River, in some ways uncontrolled basic economics takes care of this up to a point. The more demand for labour in poorer countries, the higher the wages will be. The bean counters will always find another country where labour is cheaper. What they have to be wary about is quality.

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    4. Definitely you earn better than at my place but I can say some people earn here so much as doctors lawyers, and some in local bussinesses. Personally I can'y say I earn too much but I work at two schools so it is different situation. So definitely I can't complain...

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  2. It is ironic that the capital cities will one day become too big for their own services, while the regional cities are crying out for population and jobs. Just in this state alone, new immigrants would be delighted to be settled in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong etc, as long as they weren't imprisoned in barb wire.

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    1. Hels, as I guess you know, quite a few have settled in the Bendigo and Shepparton areas, but there could be a lot more if encouraged.

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  3. While more people are encoraged to try inner city living, suburban cities are thriving here also Andrew, we live in the city of Joondalup and it's expanding so fast, but the new Freeway is ALMOST keeping up. Trains are brilliant, there should be more of them everywhere, I would prefer to travel by train but to cross the Nullabor by train takes about three days, makes a trip away longer by almost a week.. but getting on that plane on Wednesday is causing me much angst already :)

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    1. Grace, I just checked on a map and the freeway to the city is very direct for you. But you what will happen in the future and it won't take long with a rapidly expanding population.

      Very interesting. Your train line was recently extended, before the freeway is extended. This is getting the order of things correct. The nearest one was as far as Hutton Street, Osborne Park

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  4. Ignore the spelling errors Andrew.. I'm stressed :)

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