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.