Well listeners. You’ve heard me go on about some things and in case you’re in any doubt I’m passionate about sustainability and resilience. I care about whether we are destroying our future. I’m alarmed at the decisions being taken now on a daily basis. I’m confronted by the consequences I see looming ahead. I’m appalled at the decisions being taken by our leaders of all parties including the policies proposed by those not elected or the lack of good policies. Even more I feel hopelessly afraid when my own community my neighbours the people I meet in church or at the shops or at sport or in clubs when the people who are the very fabric of my local life are distracted by concerns that completely overlook the main big picture challenges we face so urgently together.

I liken this to what a magician does: The magician gets you to take your eye off the ball to watch something else while the main game goes on out of your attention. That’s what I see happening.

There is nothing like resilience thinking to bring the big picture sharply into focus. There is nothing like a tight focus on local sustainability on small-scale local resilience on what is good for our local community and what will deeply compromise and damage our future chances here to set off the alarm bells about the big picture top-down decisions that affect our lives so profoundly.

Because it is the small scale local that makes us resilient but it is the big scale non-local that has the power to utterly destroy our resilience. To destroy it with no more effort or thought than the stroke of an approval a piece of legislation a license a refusal to protect critical interests and values and resources that we as locals depend on for our survival and well-being.

We didn’t make the planning decisions to close down all the remaining farms in our upper Kedron Brook valley to make it one of SE QLD’s fast growth housing areas. We don’t make the planning decisions on roads and schools and community centres and health centres and respite centres and libraries and setting aside land for churches and parks.

If this planning decision hadn’t been made by some bureaucrats in a government office somewhere in the CBD then we wouldn’t be driving through heavy traffic past our local schools in the morning or fighting for car park space at the Ferny Grove station. Because the facilities we had would have been sufficient for the population who was already here. It is only by having thousands of extra people using those same facilities that they become overextended.

It planning decisions were made to stabilize the population rather than constantly grow it our rates could be used to improve existing facilities. Quite noticeably in the older established areas of our valley there is rarely improvements to existing facilities. New facilities go into the new areas being built. Thus Upper Kedron gets cycle paths and walkways but the older part of Ferny Grove doesn’t. Keperra noticeably misses out and the older and longer it has been established the less that gets done there.

Our press is full of complaints against our political leaders and promises from political candidates that once you start seeing it through the lens of population growth all come back to this one thing: None of the people in charge of planning – at federal state or council level – are giving any attention to what is a sustainable population. There is no population policy except growth. Immediate growth through immigration primarily supplemented by high birth rates that will inevitably snowball into a very big population. A very big population for Australia. A very big population for Brisbane and SE QLD. And also we are now seeing the strong growth in local population that will also lead to more and more pressure on local and regional resources.

A state government planning decision for example that will almost certainly come down the track in a few years will be to put high-density living units at Ferny Grove station. In one planning decision this would move a large body of new people into the heart of our community with deep consequences for the peace and harmony that we currently enjoy locally both in public order and cultural unity. One thing you can be certain of the high-level planners who govern our lives top-down will not ask us or be moved by the needs of our community and they will show no interest or concern in protecting and maintaining the values and quality of life we have here at the moment.

It’s not hard to hear people complaining about slow traffic on the roads to work or long waiting times at hospitals (or now they’re getting more cunning people thrown off waiting lists altogether) or insufficient resources for disability services and carers or a housing crisis. But where are the voices alarmed about what is happening with population with the lack of any policy to create a stable sustainable population? No population policy is a policy decision to avoid having a population policy.

The top-level policy decisions about Australia’s immigration rates about subsidies to have larger families about bringing in large numbers of workers from overseas on 457 visas – these top-down decisions make a huge difference to our ordinary local lives. The additional people need somewhere to live. They change our demographic profile our culture rapidly and dramatically. We compete in a larger faster fiercer environment to preserve our own place to resist losing what we already had in many cases our birth-right.

Another top-level big set of decisions is having a large effect on local businesses and jobs and the prices we pay: this is the decision to make our economy a one-industry economy – mining.

We can build local resilience all we like but it takes one sweep of a bureaucrat’s pen or the constant on-going failure to address population growth development approvals and at the worst decisions to send nations to war – these are the big scale decisions that completely override all our very best efforts at building resilience stability harmony and deep strength.

So this is why I care so much. I see so much pleasure and happiness in focusing on growing a community garden or backing a local sports team or buying from our local businesses or joining local clubs or volunteering locally. But ultimately the power to damage from big top-down decisions is so great that they will endure to give us the resilience we need for the future if we don’t do something about the destructive top-down decisions.

I ask you to think about these things. I ask you to talk about them with your families your friends. I ask you to start talking about them in your letters to the editor your answers to questions about what the most important issues are. I ask you to care about what happens here locally and to be part of building resilience and a susainable future here locally and as part of that process I ask you for help to challenge the most destructive top-down decisions that affect us all.