Breakneck growth in ‘one servo’ town
ANDREW Cini paid $500,000 for the great Australian dream and all he got was a service station.
Being lured by a five per cent deposit for house and land packages, Mr Cini is among thousands of Australians moving to more affordable outer suburb areas of the country.
The problem is the infrastructure in these areas isn't catching up to the growth.
Mr Cini bought the five-bedroom, three-bathroom house on 576 sqm of land but apart from houses like his and a single service station, there's nothing else in the area of Mickleham, Australia's fasting growing area in our fastest growing state of Victoria.
"You're buying at probably the cheapest point," he told ABC's 7.30.
"We've had immigration forever, it's what Australia is built on, so it is sustainable if it's controlled."
Darren Young is in the same predicament. His family cannot even dry their clothes outdoors because there's too much dust from construction in the area, which is driving up their energy costs anyway.
Enrolments for the local primary school doubled in the last two years and the catholic school he would want to send his children is too far away.
"The biggest problem is the lack of infrastructure," he said.
Outer suburban growth areas have received a 35 per cent population growth but only 13 per cent of federal infrastructure funding.
Australia has grown at such a "frantic pace" in the last 25 years, fast growing outer suburbs have already doubled in population.
The numbers are changing faster than anyone predicted.
Australia's population is 25 million, but is set to grow to more than 40 million by the middle of the century - that's 400,000 new people each year.
About 30 per cent of Australians were not born here, and our cities alone draw in almost 90 per cent of migrants.
Two thirds of Australia's population growth comes from overseas migration, with more than 3.6 million migrants.
That's one in seven people in the country who have arrived in the last 20 years.
Economist Leith van Onselen said Australia was "marching blind" towards massive population growth.
"This is one of the biggest fallacies of rapid populations growth - there's this notion that you can just plan for it and we just need to build the infrastructure," Mr van Onselen said.
"But the problem is in built out cities like Sydney and Melbourne where there isn't really any additional space, building out new infrastructure is incredibly expensive."
Craigieburn is near Mickleham and already there is a six-month waiting list for learn-to-swim classes in a new facility the council opened a year ago.
Families are waiting 18 months to get a childcare position for one day.
Experts say the days of a quarter-acre block close to the city with easy public transport and amenities are long gone.
There are more workers but the same number of jobs as there is in cities, forcing people to face a long commute.
In Craigieburn 35 per cent of residents were living overseas with many Syrian humanitarian arrivals.
Abul Rizvi, who worked for the immigration department 1990-2007, said many people did not realise this.
"While the media and public were transfixed by the 63,000 asylum seeks arriving by boat we had over 3.6 million people arriving to Australia via planes which transformed Australian in terms of its age composition, skill composition and ethnic composition," Mr Rizvi said.