Keeping Melbourne Ports Liveable

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By Steph Hodgins-May, Federal Greens candidate for Melbourne Ports

There is no doubting that St Kilda and surrounds is a wonderful place to live.

Whether it’s enjoying a morning cycle along the foreshore, a haul of delicious fruit and vegetables from one of the locals farmers’ markets, or a picnic in the Botanical Gardens, we are spoiled for choices.

But Melbourne Ports is growing fast, and the Government is not adequately planning for that growth, which means increased pressure on our city, the environment, and the people who live here.

The Greens have a plan to preserve all that is good about our area. It includes running our city on renewable energy – not dirty coal – and building faster, more reliable public transport. It involves prioritising the fast-track expansion of our bicycle network, encouraging better building design, increasing access to open spaces, and more affordable housing options.

Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in cities, which have traditionally drawn people from a myriad of economic, social and cultural backgrounds. Cities continue to be places of integration, migration flows, cultural interactions and variations in socioeconomic positioning.

As we grow, however, a disturbing trend has emerged and we have seen the old political parties sell off more of the area to developers who value profits over liveable communities. Today, if a key area of land is up for development, green infrastructure is often an afterthought, if considered at all.

There is no clearer case in point than the unfettered high rise development of Fishermans Bend in industrial South Melbourne and Port Melbourne which was reportedly given a green light to residential developers without a strategy or funds for decontamination, public transport, open space or affordable housing. In an area threatened by sea-level rise, increased flooding and heat island effects, to allow development that exacerbates these issues is extremely short-sighted.

The Greens believe that cities should be built for people, and not be the playgrounds of property developers. We will hand back the power to residents by banning the corrupting influence of developer donations to political parties and work to ensure public spaces are protected when creating new developments. Our city should build parks, cafes, libraries and creative spaces, not just high rise apartment blocks.

Throughout Europe, we are seeing policy makers embrace green planning concepts. France’s “Green roofs” initiative mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels resulting in improved rainwater retention, amenity and energy production. What’s stopping us from rolling this out in Port Phillip?

It’s well recognised that high-quality open space contributes to people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing, and that cycling and walking are the future of a cleaner, healthier and less congested Melbourne Ports. Commuter trips by bicycles in Copenhagen and Amsterdam are close to 50% of all journeys – reducing congestion and increasing connectivity. We need a city with safer, connected bike paths, more separated bike lanes, and secure parking.

I believe that healthy communities are those which embrace community participation as central to decision making, and which recognise the different needs of residents who call it home.

Unfortunately housing in our area is becoming more and more unaffordable, squeezing people further away from an area that they may have called home for decades. The Greens will tackle homelessness and rental stress through investing in public housing. In the private sector we will abolish negative gearing for new properties to make houses cheaper for residents, encourage long-term leases that are a win-win for renters and landlords, and increase investment in affordable housing.

The Greens’ policies have been prepared with expert input and specific costings. Federally our policies are fully costed through the Parliamentary Budget Office. We’ll pay for our plan through fixing the unfair tax system, such as abolishing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, making sure the big banks pay their fair share and by ensuring property developers contribute part of their profits to pay for community infrastructure.

The Greens stand for innovation, community and future-thinking. If you love Melbourne Ports and agree with our vision, stand with us and help us make this plan a reality.

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