Laying the foundations
This week, the Committee for Melbourne and Engineers Australia cohosted a roundtable discussion with our Members to prepare the Committee’s submission around the 10 draft objectives and needs of Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year strategy outlined in its paper Laying the Foundations. It is pleasing to see Infrastructure Victoria’s robust and well-considered approach to developing our state’s first 30-year infrastructure strategy, which is due by the end of this year. The Committee recognises the challenge in prioritising objectives related to Victoria’s long term infrastructure development – all ten proposed draft objectives are intimately linked to our future prosperity and liveability and are essential building blocks for the future state of Victoria. Therefore, the Committee focused its submission on high-level supporting principles around flexibility and adaptability, decentralisation, productivity and liveability. The next steps for Infrastructure Victoria are to release an options paper that addresses the identified objectives, which will be followed by a draft strategy in the third quarter of this year. By the end of this year, the final strategy will be published and within a year from publication the Victorian Government will respond to Infrastructure Victoria’s recommendations and produce a 5-year infrastructure plan outlining its priority major projects. The Committee is encouraged by Infrastructure Victoria’s work to date and we are keen to ultimately see the bipartisan adoption of a 30-year infrastructure plan, which is fully coordinated with Melbourne’s long-term land use plan, and which is independently audited every five years. Committee for Melbourne submission to Infrastructure Victoria: Response to Infrastructure Victoria's Laying the Foundations paper
It’s that time of the year again, with the four-day Australian Grand Prix festival beginning today at Albert Park. In addition to being a spectacular global event, the F1 Grand Prix is an essential economic driver for our economy; it brings broad economic benefits to Victoria in the form of hotel bookings, job creation and restaurants being full, not to mention the world-wide exposure this major international sporting event provides for Melbourne. Regardless of whether they come in the form of sporting events, major arts and cultural offerings or major conferences; major events bring large numbers of interstate and international visitors to Melbourne who boost our economy. In addition to the Grand Prix, it is pleasing to note a fantastic line up of events in Melbourne this weekend – the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Festival, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Australia, the A-league match between Melbourne Victory and the Newcastle Jets as well as the Victorian Multicultural Festival – especially after losing Australia’s biggest startup conference, StartCon, to Sydney. Competition to host these major events is growing everyday so we must continually refine our city’s value proposition in order attract these important drivers of our local economy and global brand.
Committee for Melbourne Member Telstra has unveiled plans to fly camera mounted drones into natural disaster zones, such as floods and fires, to monitor mobile phone towers in real time. While not the original objective, in doing so, Telstra’s drones will enhance our state’s and city’s resilience by better addressing shocks and stresses using 21st century technology. These unmanned flying devices will provide crucial assistance during catastrophes by monitoring key communications infrastructure, which plays a pivotal role during disasters by allowing people and emergency services to communicate effectively. In addition to helping address the socalled ‘Bible catastrophes’, the drones will also enable Telstra to address other less known ‘stressors’, such as the need to keep pace with the maintenance of its infrastructure, by monitoring and responding to damage of its towers more safely and at a reduced cost. This is another great example how we can better employ modern technology to ensure Melbourne is resilient enough to handle and maintain our quality of life.
Showcasing Victoria’s Health Services to the World
This week, Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy opened Victoria’s inaugural International Health Week (IHW), which will showcase our state’s healthcare, health education, aged care and medical research sectors to key international business leaders. As our international neighbours – particularly in Asia – seek to reform their health systems to respond to increasing demand and changing demographics, IHW aims to build ties with international governments, business leaders and investors to facilitate partnerships, trade and investment opportunities. Further to this, the Andrews Government has identified the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals sector as a priority growth sector, which will be a powerful lever in ensuring the future economic prosperity of Victoria. For instance, not only does the Victorian medical technologies and pharmaceuticals sector generate global revenues of over $10 billion annually, it also employs approximately 20,000 people. Victoria is leading the world in innovative health system design, training, the use of cutting-edge technology and the construction of state-of-the-art hospitals. With our economy’s continued transition away from resources and manufacturing, we should continue to leverage our strengths in these areas to our advantage.
Port of Melbourne lease
The Port of Melbourne will be privatised after the 50-year lease legislation passed the Victorian Parliament last week, following six months of negotiations. The sticking point of the negotiations centred on the compensation clause that would mean the successful bidder would be compensated if a second container terminal was built during the 50-year lease. The Opposition initially wanted no compensation to be offered, but later both parties agreed on compensation being paid only if a second container terminal is built within the first 15 years of the lease – the time by which Infrastructure Australia estimates the Port of Melbourne will reach capacity. This was a sensible move from both parties who took into consideration the advice and expertise of an independent body. The government is now expecting the port to hit the market later this year with the proceeds going into the Victorian Transport Fund, which will support key infrastructure initiatives throughout Victoria, including Labour’s election promise of removing 50 railway level crossings in the next eight years. The Committee has been a long-time advocate of asset recycling and believes that – when done correctly – the privatisation of former state-owned businesses is an appropriate way of optimising benefits to the community, provided the proceeds are in turn invested in productivity-raising infrastructure. Noting that interest in the port is strong, Treasurer Tim Pallas said the Victorian Government was expecting to achieve at least the $5.3 billion forecast by the previous government. Now let’s hope the Andrews Government will manage to successfully access the federal Asset Recycling Program, which provides states with additional funding worth 15 per cent of the price of the asset sold if all the sale proceeds are allocated to new infrastructure investment.