Melbourne and high-rise development

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In my professional and personal experience as a town planner and infrastructure planning engineer (now retired), I believe a better answer to residential high-rises is to allow medium-rise apartments within the tram network and the inner rail system. This makes good use of existing public transport, parks, medical services, schools, shopping and restaurants, and allows residents to be absorbed into existing communities.
This is a far better solution than high-rise residential in the CBD which lacks many of the amenities required for happy inner-suburban living. Several strip shopping centres such as Malvern and Hawthorn along Glenferrie Road, Burke Road and Camberwell Junction are excellent candidates among many for such developments.
The opportunities are there and can be done with careful planning, having regard to positive interaction with neighbours and heritage issues. This is a job for clear planning rules set out by the state government with a role for local councils liaising with local residents.
Bob Evans, Glen Iris

Residents must not be forgotten
For more than a century, large parts of Richmond boasted mixed-use occupancy with workers cottages close by the factories and warehouses where they worked. It was a vibrant working-class neighbourhood.
Some years ago, the local council decided to prioritise commercial use in the mini-suburb of Cremorne and has been making it increasingly difficult for people to live in the area. Cremorne is bordered by Punt Road, Swan Street and Church Street. Its proximity to the CBD has led to rapid medium-rise commercial development with many new eight- to 10-storey office buildings, often replacing rows of Victorian-era cottages. As a result of this development and its ideal location, Cremorne has become a budding ″⁣high-tech hub″⁣ but without local residents, it will become a desert at night and weekends.
The City of Yarra is considering a new planning ″⁣framework″⁣ that, if accepted, will further restrict or ban residential or mixed use in the West Cremorne neighbourhood. Rather, its objective should be to help create an innovative and vibrant model suburb for living
and working. Phillip Schudmak, Cremorne

Rein in immigration numbers
The article, ″⁣Stalling tough decision on housing″⁣, offers only two alternatives to housing in Melbourne: consolidate or sprawl. It’s a Faustian bargain – both are unacceptable. The binary choice, however, is based on the presumption of continuous population growth. This does not need to be the case. With fertility below replacement, natural increase will eventually decline to zero.
Net overseas migration can be brought back from its ridiculously high levels (454,400 in the year to March 31, 2023) to about 70,000, or what we enjoyed in the pre-Howard years.
It is the federal government, however, that sets immigration levels, not the state, so the state government must put pressure on Canberra to rein in immigration, if only to avoid the two
current alternatives of overcrowding Melbourne or destroying natural habitat for urban sprawl. Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW

Developers, investors should not drive policy
We don’t need excessively tall buildings to slow urban expansion. High-rise residential buildings incur big time and energy costs for their occupants, and create unpleasant ground-level spaces. The problems of dealing with the concentration of movement that they generate and their overloading of utilities services lead to large costs which are expensive to overcome. We would get adequate density from more friendly and liveable three- and four-storey developments. Investment companies and large developers should not drive urban policy, especially when the public is footing the bill.
Ray Brindle, Fellow, Planning Institute of Australia


A world of trouble
While not forgetting Ukraine (Letters, 22/10), let us also remember the forgotten 4 million displaced by fighting in Sudan, the 100,000 Armenians who fled nine months of starvation, the 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled persecution and human rights violations in Myanmar, now in the largest refugee camp in the world, the more than 15 million people in need of humanitarian and protection assistance in Syria and the eight-year-old civil war in Yemen, resulting in 4 million displaced persons and 370,000 deaths, to name but some of the most egregious world trouble spots.
Joe Wilder,
Caulfield North

Needn’t be class warfare
Kudos to Jordan Baker (Good Weekend, 21/10) for the insightful article on classroom management.
All teachers know that the core of classroom management is relational connection. A teacher’s foremost job is to connect, and this is not only the case with at-risk or disengaged youth. Students learn best when they feel known, valued, and respected by both the adults in the school and their peers.
The modern relationship between teacher and student is much more of a partnership, which heightens student engagement. Classrooms that have built community cultures where students are intrinsically motivated and committed to supporting one another are at a significant advantage over stick and carrot behaviourism classes.
Successful classrooms prioritise relationships; those driven by compliance falter.
Cameron Paterson,
director of learning, Wesley College, Prahran

Thank you, Bill
My deepfelt thanks to Bill Hayden for the introduction of the single mother’s pension. I personally benefited from this and it made a tangible difference to my family.
Robyn Stonehouse, Camberwell

Tax equity please
I have an issue with a flat rate CBD congestion tax. For some people on already stretched budgets it could mean the difference between driving or using inadequate public transport, which could be inappropriate if there are mobility issues.
Others may consider the congestion charge to be mere pocket change and will continue to use their cars even if they live metres from a tram stop. Some Nordic countries impose traffic and parking fines based on a person’s income and ability to pay. Therefore the deterrent is felt equally. This same philosophy should be applied to a CBD congestion tax. Otherwise we will proceed further towards a two-tier society, which we already have with housing and education.
Barry Lizmore,
Ocean Grove

The benefits of roads
While the ″⁣user pays″⁣ concept has some appeal, the reality is that everyone in society benefits from roads, whether they are drivers, public transport users or consumers. Roads are an ubiquitous and essential part of modern life, and our government should simply pay for their upkeep without a special tax. Except for trucks, which do the most damage, they can pay a fee.
Rob Skelton, Ballarat

Albanese’s mission
If Anthony Albanese achieves nothing else in Washington he should persuade the Americans to drop their pursuit of Daniel Duggan and Julian Assange, both Australian citizens.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

In the Liberal mind
What a fascinating insight into the mindset of some Liberal MPs (“Libs resist Voice backer frontbench return”, 21/10). The article speaks to the evident need to obey the leader of the federal opposition, through the lens of the struggle Julian Leeser is reported as experiencing in gaining reappointment to the frontbench. This roadblock follows his earlier principled resignation when it was clear that his support for the Yes case in the referendum was at odds with the diktat of his party leadership enforcing a tactical No vote.
The quote from an unnamed Liberal MP that, “I don’t think you can reward people who go against the leadership”, speaks of a worryingly authoritarian spirit in the party, with a keening need for someone to tell members how to think. There can be very little regard for genuine debate or an acceptance of a range of conscientiously arrived at views in such an outfit.
And all this in a party that never tires of boasting that it accommodates divergent views under the ″⁣broad church″⁣. Perhaps ″⁣big top″⁣ is more accurate.
Ian McKendry, Kew East

Listen to the author
Columnist Jacqueline Maley (Comment, 22/10) is right. Gender quotas in literary texts are “profoundly silly”. Unless prompted by a leading question, how often does an ordinary book come across as decidedly feminine or masculine?
The texts I studied in VCE last decade – The Wife of Martin Guerre, Stolen, Hotel Sorrento, to name several – are indeed written by women, yet in none does gender define the characters or the story. The reader is there, gripped by the story.
Later, I discovered Vera Brittain and her masterly Testament of Youth. In her introduction, she mentions a publisher’s observation that the book lacked “H.I”. (Human interest).
Despite this, the book remains in print today, 90 years later. Perhaps instead of seeking H.I., we ought to listen to what the author is telling us.
Anders Ross, Heidelberg

Wrong angle on land
Columnist Parnell Palme McGuinness (Comment, 21/10) is looking at things from the wrong angle, that is, as a non-Indigenous person in the commercial world.
I have lived in remote Aboriginal communities for more than two years, and schooled my children there for the same length of time. I have only the tiniest fraction of an understanding about the relationship of Aboriginal people to their land.
From what I have observed, unlike in white culture, it is the owning of the land that is central to wellbeing and health, and not necessarily what is done with that land in a commercial sense. Us white people see something to be used and turned to profit, but this is not necessarily how other cultures see their land.
Julie Smith,
Soldiers Hill

A jolly good show
In the wash-up of the referendum, may I issue some thanks and acknowledgments where they are due.
First to Peter Dutton, whose resolute negativity saved our backyards from re-occupation by First Nations peoples. Well done.
Next, those who ran the sausage stall at our local primary. Snags, cakes, the works. And the voters: not only did the seat of Melbourne have the highest Yes vote, our polling station was the most positive in this wide brown land at over 93 per cent. We are still wondering, who are the other 7 per cent?
And finally, to those who sneer at inner-city elites. This is the only time I am ever called elite, so thank you. And now tootle-pip, I must be off to enrol in Chattering Classes at our local community centre.
James McDougall, Fitzroy North

Dutton’s strategy
I voted Yes for the referendum, and I don’t regret that decision. However, if I had voted No, and had based that decision on words spoken by Peter Dutton, I would be more than a little annoyed.
Having promised another referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution if the Voice failed – then there would have been a second chance for recognition, even though it fell short of what was being asked for – he backflipped.
So without any detail about advancing recognition, Dutton called for a royal commission into Indigenous child abuse. Isn’t that racialising one group of people over another? Wasn’t one of his arguments that the Voice would racialise the Constitution?
Child abuse is an abhorrent and heinous crime committed in all communities. Families, churches, sporting organisations and schools. The list is endless. To weaponise and politicise child abuse is wrong.
Philip West, Jan Juc

Yes, it was about racism
I take issue with the views expressed in the letter “Result wasn’t about racism” (21/10). The Voice referendum was not just about a group of disadvantaged Australians. It was about the first Australians, who were occupying the whole of our continent for thousands of years before Europeans “discovered” it. The colonists just took over the land from them, and did their best to wipe them out as a distinct people. The first Australians were not regarded as a people to respect as having the right to occupy the land to the exclusion of the newcomers. They were regarded as inferior. Is that not racism?
All they asked for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart was recognition of their rightful status in the Constitution as first occupants, along with the right to make representations to Parliament on matters affecting them, through a representative body. Other Australians had nothing to fear from that. It was designed to unite us, not to divide. Parliament should now set up the Voice by legislation, which does not require a referendum, and which can be easily amended.
Tony Santospirito, Camberwell

Seemed like yesterday
As a boy I went by bus under not so “blue suburban skies” to Penny Lane to visit my Auntie Madge. As a young man I taught at the Liverpool Institute with teachers who taught Paul McCartney. Now as a senior citizen I have had the privilege of seeing him perform in Melbourne. And what a fantastic experience it was. For the Mersey maestro at 81 years of age, “it’s getting better all the time″⁣.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont


The Voice
The Voice is on ice, if not in deep freeze.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading

Of course, Castlemaine delivered a 70 per cent Yes vote in the referendum (“Think only inner city elites voted Yes”, 20/10). It’s not called North Northcote for nothing.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Farewell Labor great Bill Hayden, the man who immortalised the drover’s dog when he told it like
it is.
Paul Custance, Highett

Liberal MPs push back against Julian Leeser’s return to the Coalition frontbench (″⁣Libs resist Voice backer’s frontbench return, 21/10) shows the fallacy of a Liberal broad church.
Brendan O’Farrell, Brunswick

The answer to the word liberal in the Sunday Age crossword (22/10) was broadminded. Perhaps the Liberal Party needs to change its name.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

To avoid confusion when giving a name to a barista, do what I do. Don’t give your actual name, just give a name that’s short and easy to spell. I’ve been receiving my coffee as Olive for many years now.
Gaynor Sheahan, Wantirna South

So Victoria’s homicide squad has investigated more than 4500 killings (“Naked City”, 22/10).
If they keep going, they might catch up with the Barnabys in Midsomer Murders.
Peter Hepburn, Claremont, Tas

Halloween warning: birdlife can become dangerously entangled in store-bought fake cobwebs. Ban it.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

Watching the horrors unfolding in Gaza and Ukraine, I closed my eyes, imagining where we might all be if Donald Trump was back in the White House.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

The latest oxymoron: Russia as peacemaker.
Alice Glover, Thornbury

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