05/03/15

Committee Communiqué

Market move puts pressure on ring road project

The move of Melbourne’s wholesale fruit market from Footscray to Epping is set to start in a few months. The move will free up around 35 hectares in Footscray, and while the future of this land has not yet been decided, the fact that it is on the CBD doorstep means it will be a highly-prized asset. The new Epping development will bring a welcome economic boost to Melbourne’s northern suburbs, with 600 direct and 3,000 indirectly related businesses expected to use the facility. The new location close to the Hume Freeway will be good for transport of produce from our northern food bowl, which will be able to more readily access the Epping location. For those in the south-east however, the move is not as helpful. Transport from the south-east areas could be significantly improved with the linking up of the Metropolitan Ring Road link from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway. Originally planned to be completed in 2020, this project seems to have slid off the radar momentarily, however it is essential we complete this work as a matter of priority to ensure we maximise the benefits of the market's move.

Melbourne world’s 6th most expensive city

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest global cost of living survey has rated Melbourne as the world’s 6th most expensive city, one place below Sydney at number 5, with Singapore, Paris and Oslo taking the podium positions. Being an expensive city to live in would not be such a problem if we had an even spread of wealth among our citizens. The reality however, is there is a growing economic divide that comes with our high costs of living, and this has an impact on our liveability. According to Grattan’s City Limits: Why Australia's cities are broken and how we can fix them publication, for the mainland state capitals, while 60 per cent of employment growth in the last five years has been within 10 kilometres of the city centre, over 50 per cent of the population growth occurred more than 20 kilometres out. This creates both an economic and a social problem. In the end, one of the key drivers of our value as a liveable city will be determined by whether or not we can afford to live within a reasonable commuter distance from our place of work. For many Melburnians living in the urban periphery, this is not the case.

Will the gas moratorium create a price explosion?

Recent reports of rising numbers of Victorian households having their gas cut off due to failure to pay bills has highlighted the issue of increasing gas prices. This has raised the question of why, when we have potential access to significant supplies of onshore gas such as coal seam gas, there is a ban on onshore exploration. In Queensland, they have been safely producing natural gas from coal seams for nearly 20 years and in NSW for over a decade. For Victoria to continue to lag behind in exploration of these areas potentially puts us at risk of restricting supply, which could mean higher gas prices for business and domestic consumers. In order to keep prices affordable, we will have to ensure we have an adequate supply of reasonably accessible gas. The current moratorium being imposed on onshore exploration of reserves means that this may not be the case for too much longer.

Melbourne’s 3D printed jet engine a world first

Melbourne has long been leading the way in additive manufacturing and the recent unveiling of the world’s first 3D printed jet engine has once again cemented our ‘best in the world’ qualification. The project, a collaboration between Monash University, CSIRO and Deakin University, will lead to lighter and more fuel efficient engines that are cheaper and quicker to make. This development is another example of some of the cutting edge R&D that comes out of Melbourne, and is the kind of innovative technology we will need to either regenerate traditional industries, or encourage new industries that create jobs and economic returns. Our strength as a knowledge economy gives us a globally competitive advantage that we must leverage. That is why it is so important that we support and continue to build our research and design capabilities going forward.

Melbourne one of the Rockefeller 100 resilient cities

Melbourne is one of the first 33 cities in the world chosen to receive technical support and resources to develop and implement plans to enhance our resilience. This is part of a project being undertaken by New York-based Rockefeller Foundation, which will provide funding support to 100 cities around the world to help them understand and address the shocks and stresses of the 21st century. This week, a group of peak industry bodies met with Melbourne’s newly appointed Chief Resilience Officer to discuss some of the key shocks and stressors we feel impact Greater Melbourne’s resilience. In addition to the usual shock events that inevitably raise their heads – flood, drought, fire, heat – some of the more interesting stressors identified included: lack of a comprehensive and integrated plan for our future, concerns over the failure to keep pace with the need for maintenance of existing, and building of new, essential hard and soft infrastructure, and a lack of foresight in transitioning traditional job creating sectors. Of course understanding the stressor is one thing, finding a solution to the problem is another thing entirely.

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