Melbourne at 8 million requires better planning
Last Friday the Committee, in conjunction with Victoria University and The Age hosted the 'Melbourne 2050 – How will we cope with 8 million people?' conference. Over a range of robust conversations around urban planning, jobs creation, infrastructure development, smart cities and social equity, one of the key themes that continued to come through strongly was the need for a much more integrated, longterm and courageous plan for growth. A number of speakers cited the old Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) as a model we should look to for change. While the MMBW structure in its entirety may not be the most appropriate model in this day and age, the concept of depoliticising the decisionmaking process to be more focused on a comprehensive highlevel vision that integrates all elements of a plan has great merit. Statistical analysis tells us Melbourne will be Australia’s biggest city by the middle of this century. Ultimately, it will be the planning we do for the future rather than statistics, that determines whether or not we reach 8 million.
Mature discussion on congestion charges needed
The concept of charging motorists for road usage as a means of managing congestion is often talked about but never really discussed in a manner that gives us confidence this is an issue we are seriously willing to consider. In the Committee’s Moving Melbourne document released in 2012, we raised a range of alternative funding models for consideration, including options like congestion charges. CityLink operator Transurban are now taking up the challenge of raising the use of variable toll prices as a means of combating congestion on our roads. This is a discussion we need to have, however it needs to be a much more sophisticated conversation than simply saying that those who travel the furthest should pay the most. What about shifting our thinking to a model that considers charging those who have access to alternative transport options more while those who have no alternative but road use, for example those in areas without access to public transport, less. It may be a controversial approach, but it would force us to think more comprehensively about how to make our infrastructure work more effectively for everyone.
Melbourne – a great place to study
Melbourne has improved its reputation as a great place for international students to study with a move up the QS Best Student Cities Index to second place behind Paris. Melbourne jumped ahead of London to secure the silver medal, while domestic competitor Sydney came in fourth. The Committee for Melbourne has long been a strong advocate for the international student sector, promoting a better understanding of the important role this industry plays for us both socially and economically. In the Committee’s recently released strategy paper on international education, while we acknowledged the great strength and reputation we have built in this sector both domestically and internationally, we also noted we cannot afford to be complacent in our efforts to continue to improve our offering both in and out of the lecture theatre.
Brand Victoria launched
Yesterday Premier Daniel Andrews launched ‘Brand Victoria’ – the State’s new vision for unifying Victoria’s current patchwork of confusing and disparate' branding into a singular story. The brand, which focuses on selling the message of ‘the best of everything, all in one place’, will be used to showcase Victoria domestically and internationally. According to the Premier, the rebrand will create a fundamental shift in the way we go about attracting investment, improving services and creating jobs. Launched at Margaret Court Arena, there was no doubt the new 'Big V' logo that replaced the 'Melbourne' logo we are all so familiar with along the baseline of the courts took a little bit of getting used to. This is a reminder that equity in a brand does not simply come with a change of logo – there will be a lot of solid groundwork needing to be done to ensure that the 'Big V' does deliver on the trade, investment and tourism promises we make.
Dubai’s Meydan One offers food for thought
Melbourne has 640 hectares of highly developable land within 4 kilometres of 101 Collins Street. Clearly we have the capacity to grow and develop our city. The issue we seem to struggle with is how to do this in a visionary, creative and innovative way. Perhaps we could seek some inspiration from Meydan One, Dubai’s new 5.9 million km2 mixeduse development. Meydan One will be home to the world’s tallest residential tower, which will include 885 apartments, a 5star hotel and conference centre, a cuttingedge mall complete with a retractable roof that can be opened in cooler months, an 8,000 capacity sporting arena, yachting marina and the world’s longest indoor ski slope. Never a city to do things by half, Dubai’s Meydan One may be a little over the top for Melbourne. Nonetheless, the audacious vision set for this development should serve as a reminder to us that doing things the same old way will not keep us ahead of the pack.