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Letters to the Editor - April 2016

31 Mar 2016

The population doctrine

My friend Kerry Taperall (now 73) came from a large Catholic family. It wasn’t large at first of course. There were just two in their two-bedroom home in Sutherland. Very comfortable.

Then came the babies. One comfortable, two comfortable, three comfortable, four getting a bit uncomfortable. So they built the verandah — which became a dormitory. More children. Problems began with toilets and bathrooms – uncomfortable.

But in those days Catholics were encouraged to accept those kids as they came. Name changed but true story, the Taperalls had a dozen children – six boys and six girls. It was just post-war so they could only get the materials to “Jerry build” a roughhouse room attached to the verandah for the extra children, too hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter.

The Taperalls had overreached themselves population wise. I remember that the eldest left home at 17, the second eldest at 15, desperate to get a bit of space and privacy.

Melbourne, it seems to me, is like the Taperalls, We populated to a very good level and made a lovely city. But we didn’t stop or even slow down. Our belief in growth was akin to the Catholic belief in the prohibition of birth control. The doctrine of ceaseless growth at an unsustainable rate had become a doctrine of faith. No one could shake it out of what were otherwise sensible heads.

Congestion and discomfort are everywhere. And, now we have the destruction of Docklands Stadium (Etihad to you), no doubt to be subdivided, like the filling in with houses of the quite workable Glen Waverley football ground.

The space will be laden with apartment blocks. They will be like the recently-built ones, that squeeze and encrust Etihad stadium, which should have stood alone from the beginning, surrounded by some beautiful breathe-easy space.

And what is the reason? So we can build yet another stadium in sports city, blowing apart the No.70 tram, and extending the car queue along City Rd to the Swan St Bridge by another kilometre.

Ah, progress.

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