Committee for Melbourne Transport Series – Part I
Last week saw the kick-off of our Transport Series, the outcome of which will assist the Committee in developing an integrated and holistic transport vision for Melbourne. Our Members heard first-hand from a panel of transport industry leaders on their organisations’ master plans for the development of transport as our city continues to grow. The first installment of our Transport Series focused on our roads and featured Transurban’s Vin Vassallo, Port of Melbourne Corporation’s Caryn Anderson and RACV’s Brian Negus. One of the key conclusions reached through the panel discussion and subsequent Q&A was the need to start thinking about our roads not merely as assets, but as an interconnected network moving people and freight. In addition, it is not possible to simply build ourselves out of congestion; we need community engagement and education, as well as the use of technology to increase the capacity of our roads network. The smarter use of technology in particular will increase mobility, connectivity and reliability, all of which are critical to our productivity and liveability. Part 2 of the Committee’s Transport Series will focus on public transport, invitations will be coming soon.
Newly created Infrastructure Victoria is holding its first stakeholder briefings this week. After years of pushing for an independent infrastructure entity in Victoria, it is great to see Infrastructure Victoria up and running as well as their well considered approach to developing Victoria’s first 30 year infrastructure strategy. The release of their first paper lays the foundation for their 30 year strategy and outlines the organisation’s “commitment to consult and collaborate, drive improved outcomes, draw on compelling evidence, consider nonbuild solutions first, promote responsible funding and financing and be open to change”. Efficient, high-quality infrastructure will play a central role in helping to lift our productivity and the Committee will continue to support and engage with Infrastructure Victoria to ensure a better future as Melbourne continues to grow.
Major events put Melbourne on the map
While the Australian Open Tennis Championship placed Melbourne in the world's spotlight in January, recently released figures show that the two-week ‘Happy Slam’ boosted city hotels’ occupancy rates to an average 90 per cent. In addition to providing Melburnians with a feast of elite live sport, the Australian Open also brings business to Melbourne during what would normally be an offpeak period. As we gear up to celebrate the Australian Grand Prix’s 21st birthday in March, it is important that we realise the positive impact of our major events on our city. Not only do they bring large numbers of visitors to Melbourne who boost the economy by filling our hotels, restaurants, bars and shopping strips, but for major international events like the Australian Open and the Grand Prix, the global exposure Melbourne receives via immense worldwide TV audiences firmly places our city on the global stage. These events are more than just opportunities for us Melburnians to enjoy great sport and culture; they are drivers of both our local economy and global brand
ACMI X – home of the creative industries
Committee for Melbourne Member ACMI has spawned a coworking hub, which is set to open in April 2016, to nurture new creative industries. This 60 seat coworking studio, reserved for the practitioners, artists and businesses working with the moving image, will foster collaboration and industry engagement, but also addresses a critical need of our creative industries sector – access to affordable working spaces. In addition to promoting innovation, creativity and contributing to liveability while providing access to cultural experiences, the Victorian arts and culture sector generates widespread economic benefits. In 2010-11, the Victorian arts and culture sector added $6.1 billion in direct value to the economy and employed the equivalent of 68,000 full-time workers. Given Melbourne’s strength in the creative industries, ACMI’s initiative is a great example of how we can leverage our city’s competitive advantages.
We must back our cities
In a recently released report by the JLL Centre of City Research, the world’s cities are broken down into three categories: (1) Established World Cities, which have the “deepest and most settled concentrations of firms, capital and talent”; (2) Emerging World Cities, which to varying degrees are investing heavily in fast growing metropolises; and (3) New World Cities – such as Melbourne – which specialise in lifestyle, innovation and/or tourism. While the report highlights Melbourne’s strengths in innovation and international education, the authors warn that Melbourne does not sufficiently invest in its city, given the scale of its opportunities. Cities are Australia's economic powerhouses and we will closely watch how the Turnbull Government's recent cabinet reshuffle will play out now that the role of Minister for Cities and the Built Environment has been replaced by the role of Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation. Opinions differ as to whether the move increases the government’s effectiveness with regard to its ambitions around our cities, but there is no doubt about the importance of our cities – they house most of Australia’s key economic infrastructure and create and enhance the vast majority of our highly-prized prosperity.