Addressing our housing crisis
In my inaugural speech to the Victorian Parliament in December last year, I spoke about what I believe is my duty as a millennial MP to do what I can to assist my peers to achieve the great Australian dream of home ownership.
As I said, “I believe it is immoral that large sections of our inner cities, flush with good transport, schools, health care and other infrastructure, remain almost flat, with obsolete overlays denying young Victorians a chance to buy their first home where they want to live. If my party wants to remain relevant to young people, we must at every opportunity reject this short-sighted and unfair approach and champion home ownership.”
This leads me to question the bizarre recommendation from the independent Planning Panels Victoria report into the City of Melbourne’s Carlton Heritage Review, which said there was “significant justification” into applying a heritage overlay to the “brutalist” style carpark on the corner of Grattan and Cardigan streets in Carlton.
There is the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But why we would want to heritage list a museum to parked cars is beyond me. Yet we have significant architecture experts lining up to opine on is more like a seven-storey pile of concrete.
While some in the political class might not want to admit it, we have a housing crisis. This is not to say that significant sites and buildings should not be heritage listed. But it’s about striking the right balance, which I don’t believe has occurred in the case of the City of Melbourne Heritage Review.
Defenders of heritage listings and overlays will often argue that listing does not affect development if the facade is maintained. Yet VCAT has straight up rejected a proposal to build a nine-storey apartment tower next to the heritage-listed 204-208 Albert St, in an area of East Melbourne which is already surrounded by similar apartments.
While some might think they’re on the side of the angels and fighting a holy war against evil property developers, in large part all they end up doing is sending my generation packing to growth areas where education, healthcare, amenities and infrastructure are already a decade behind in growth.
I’m all for residents having their say about what they believe to be inappropriate development, and I’m not about to go into bat for all developers. Some deserve the poor reputation they cop. But we need to understand that it’s not developers that are moving into these homes and apartments, it’s the next generation, and migrants, looking for a slice of the great Australian dream.
Let’s not pull the ladder up behind us. Instead, we should helpfully drop it down so the next generation of Australians can secure a home where they want to live. •