Move growth from the city
Do we want the future state of Victoria with a supersized Melbourne with as many people as New York City or a more balanced population with Shepparton as one of the many larger regional cities across a diverse state?
As Melbourne grows and grows, the Victorian Opposition has declared population growth as one of the big issues for next year’s election.
State Nationals leader Peter Walsh was out and about yesterday promising the Coalition would change our growth away from Melbourne and towards the regions. It makes sense. As Melbourne grows, the city is buckling under the stress.
A generation of younger Melburnians face being locked out financially from ever buying a house in the city they grew up in as the average home price reaches $1 million.
And as more and more outer suburbs are added to the growing city, residents who cannot afford to live in the inner suburbs face increasing congestion, gridlocked streets and crowded trains.
And all at a time when regional Victoria cries out for population growth, as some parts of the state are actually projected to lose residents in the coming decades.
Decentralisation has been a buzzword across Australia in recent years, as more Australian states face the same problem of capital cities overtaking the regions.
But despite tokenistic policy changes, like moving the odd government department from a capital to a regional city, the numbers are not moving to the regions fast enough. Part of this is obvious. When young professionals get skilled up and enter the workforce, it is the capital cities that can offer the opportunities and pay to attract the best.
The opposition has not offered a solution to reverse this trend, but has promised more detailed policies will be coming closer to the election.
If the Coalition do get the policies right, it would be a good thing to see regional Victoria grow again, and get more jobs and industries coming to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.
But big changes need to be made to change the growth in the next few decades.
The Coalition’s interim report lists transport, law and order, health, roads and jobs as some of the key areas to focus on.
People in regional Victoria do feel that they are underserved when compared to the big city and spending big to make the regions more liveable could be a good way to bring more people to regional Victoria.
DECENTRALISATION HAS BEEN A BUZZWORD ACROSS AUSTRALIA IN RECENT YEARS. . .