Perth Bursting

Reporter: Graeme Butler

It's what happens when dullsville collides with boomtown - Perth is bursting at the seams where ever you look - the airport, car parks, shopping centres, sports grounds... the city is straining to cope.

When you look at the numbers it's staggering, the states population is growing by 125 people every day - take away babies being born and there's still 75 people shifting to W.A. each day... no wonder it's getting crowded. "It really did creep up on us and there was very few people that were forecasting this well there were no people forecasting this four or five years ago" Professor David Hedgecock is head of urban planning at Curtin University... he says Perth has been caught short by the boom. "What I think we're seeing in a number of areas at the moment are a lot of band aid solutions being thought about to get us through the next 2, 3, 4 years"

Perth airport is a prime example of a band aid solution - the domestic terminal is overflowing as passenger number swell. Ten years ago almost 387 thousand passengers used Perth domestic and international terminals every month.Now it's almost double that - a staggering 23 thousand passengers a day. 70 million dollars is being spent to upgrade the domestic terminal - but ultimately it's expected Perth's terminals will be combined.

"At the moment we're seeing is little panic situations the airport the new sport stadium and so on I think we really need people sitting down and saying look where is our focus not just in these areas that are causing us difficulties at the moment but on a longer term basis how are we going to spread this investment around"

Just about everywhere you go - and everything you do - we're surveyed a range of services around Perth to see how the boom is affecting our everyday.

For Urgent Electrical Work

The quickest call out we found was 7 days

But some told us the earliest appointment would be 2 months


For Painters

The quickest was 2 - 6 weeks

Some are booked 3 months ahead


For Plumbers

Better at 1 - 2 days notice

The longest we were told we'd have to wait was 7 days


The housing boom has helped blow out waiting times for tradies - but the growing population is putting pressure on just about everything.. just ask Perth mum Anne McCaffrey, "it's really frustrating" Anne says simple things like the time lining up at the check-out has ballooned, "on a bad day we're there about 20 minutes I know I've read a woman's weekly in a sitting"

While suburban shopping centres are busy - the city is crammed, especially when it comes to parking.

In 2000 there were 19,161 public car parking bays...

Seven years later that number has shrunk by almost 1000


Catch the train from the north and parking's just as bad

Most park and rides are full by 7.30

The good news is 18 million dollars is being spent to put in more car parks at train stations


David says "the sorts of frustrations we're feeling at the moment are not unusual when we compare that with other capital cities they may be unusual for us comparing it to what life was like 10 years ago but to go to other Australian capital cities people don't even contemplate taking a private car into the centre of Sydney for example you take public transport or taxi"

Rob Thompson is executive director of the W.A sports federation - he says sports clubs are feeling the squeeze as demand for playing grounds and facilities grows. "The speed at which we've got a situation that needs to be addressed has probably taken a lot of people by surprise and certainly as I said I think it's an issue where the whole of community needs to be aware of it and needs to be part of creating the solutions that are going to allow us to keep active as a community"

One solution is making more use of what facilities we've already got - like school ovals and gymnasiums. Rob says "school facilities for both the school use but also the community use after hours, lighting is an opportunity but then we've got to be careful about the wear and tear on grass surfaces because it's not a situation where you can just use it until it dies"

While sport and recreation are important for community health - our health system itself is under strain, we hear a lot about waiting lists - but how do they compare now to just 5 years ago.

For Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists

In 2002 the wait was just over 11 weeks

Now its' more than 13


For Orthopaedics

In 2002 the wait was just over 16 weeks

Now it more than 19


For Neurology

In 2002 it was 13 weeks

Now it's out to 20


The private sector is hard at work - a look at the cranes towering over the city shows the amount of construction - the good news is the pain we're feeling now could see a city re-born and a new Perth emerge.