Committee Communiqué

Melbourne #1 again

Melbourne has retained its title of the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ in the latest Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Survey for the fifth year running. In the Australian Financial Review, CEO Kate Roffey noted that while the EIU survey is widely considered to be the best recognised standard of liveability among global cities, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Great cities do not happen by chance – they develop through visionary thinking and longterm planning. More work needs to be done in terms of setting a longterm agenda of city-shaping infrastructure projects, maximising access to jobs by ensuring we have a range of strong, globally competitive sectors driving the economy forward, and making sure we remain a liveable city for everyone by providing more affordable housing options and better connections between places of work and homes. We should rightly be proud of our ranking as the World's Most Liveable City, but we should also be mindful that if we fail to keep planning to improve, others will be very happy to strip us of our title.

Grand final holiday will impact economically

When assessing the need for a Grand Final Eve public holiday, the economic impact on the State should have been a key determining factor. According to the Australian Industry Group, the cost to the state economy and to businesses due lost productivity will be significant. In fact, State Treasury itself has estimated that the cost of the holiday to Victoria will be in the region of one billion dollars, much of which will be borne by the Government itself when factoring in essential police, hospital and emergency services across the State. At a time when we are aiming to create business confidence and stimulate the economy, the introduction of another public holiday that will impose penalty rates payable by businesses that need to operate, or cost those who close their doors in productive downtime, must be questioned. While we may all like the option of having another long weekend added to our work calendar, there is no doubt that it will come at a heavy cost to many businesses across the State.

Is life in Melbourne getting better?

Today, CEO Kate Roffey spoke on the topic “Is life in Melbourne getting better?” as part of an SGS Seminar Series. SGS examined if life in Melbourne had improved over the last decade by examining over 50 different statistical series for Melbourne and Victoria. SGS found that jobs access for people aged between 18 and 25, business entry rate, confidence in Commonwealth and state governance as well as public transport access have deteriorated. On the upside, the workforce participation rate improved, however the underemployment rate declined, which, in combination with the decline in job access for young people, indicates we need to work a lot harder on the jobs creation front. Median household net worth was also found to have improved, as did the standard of living measure and Year 12 or Cert 3 and higher education qualifications. Overall, SGS noted that although our economy continues to expand, productivity remains sluggish and the rate of growth slow. Infrastructure spending is not keeping pace with city growth, and health spending continues to rise as the population ages – all factors that will challenge the liveability of our city as it continues to grow.

Can agribusiness give Victoria an economic boost?

There is no doubt that our rural industries have, and will continue to face major changes in coming decades as global trends change. In a new report, CSIRO have outlined a number of megatrends which are set to hit Australia in the next 20 years that will necessitate some major changes across our agricultural sector. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter and riskier world will require us to rethink our agribusiness. It will be disruptive but the need to change creates great opportunity, particularly in Victoria where our strong agrisector, along with our excellent pre and postfarm gate research leadership and productivity enhancing innovations place us in an ideal position to benefit from these global shifts. According to CSIRO, this will however require us to sensibly address a number of key issues – how do we upscale production and performance, what is sensible investment in innovation and how will it be funded, should we focus on commodity markets or boutique, luxury and niche food and fibres, and how do we build and safeguard our clean, green reputation? All questions that provide good food for thought.

Victoria’s population gravitating to Melbourne

The Australian Bureau of Statistics population figures released this week show that Melbourne, and in particular outer suburbs like South Morang and Craigieburn, are making big population gains, however some of that growth is coming at the expense of regional areas across the State. Domestic migration statistics show that around Australia there is currently a net domestic migration toward Melbourne. Clearly, Melbourne is an appealing destination for both Victorian and interstate people. In the five year period from 2009 to 2014, South Morang, Point Cook, Craigieburn, Tarneit and inner Melbourne bounded by Flinders, La Trobe and Spring streets grew substantially. Meanwhile, most of Victoria's landmass to the west of Ballarat lost population, as did towns surrounding Wangaratta, Towong and Orbost in the east. These trends lead us to focus on two key questions – how will we continue to service Melbourne’s rapidly growing population effectively and efficiently, and how can we make better connections with regional hubs to ensure we build strong State and city economies?

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