Committee Communiqué

Housing affordability

The latest National Land Survey Program indicates that the sale of new housing lots in Melbourne’s outer suburbs surged to its highest level on record in the September quarter with almost 1900 lots sold each month. In what comes as some good news on the affordability front, the median Melbourne lot price, at $211,000, was 4% cheaper than at the peak period in 2010, was $250,000 less expensive than a lot in metropolitan Sydney and $40,000 below Perth prices. According to the Urban Development Institute of Australia, one of the key reasons prices in Melbourne have remained flat is the record number of new lots (5419) offered by developers. On the downside however, these lots are generally being opened up in outer metropolitan areas where there is a lack of supporting infrastructure and access to jobs. This means many residents are commuting back to innercity areas for work, on heavily congested road and rail corridors. Clearly, there is still more work we need to do in the housing affordability space, but it is essential that this is done in consideration with prospects for jobs growth and infrastructure support.

CSIRO swings into the energy conversation

Energy sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. According to the CSIRO, cost, electricity demand, emergence of new technologies and environmental imperatives will all have an impact on how our energy is sourced in the future. In order to kick start a broader discussion on energy sustainability, the CSIRO has launched the ‘Infinity Swing’ to help the community at large get a grasp on the role science and technology
can play in developing smart energy efficient solutions. The Infinity Swing is a massive eightperson swing that generates energy as people move. According to CSIRO research director Glenn Platt, the swing shows people that energy isn’t that easy to generate. One of the major puzzles we need to solve is find ways to make energy generation reliable and sustainable, while at the same time ensuring it remains affordable. The concept of people generating power through their own movements aims to help them understand energy isn't frivolous and it isn't free. The Infinity Swing will be in operation at Federation Square from 16 to 21 November 2015.

More level crossings to go

This week the Andrews Government announced that eight level crossings will be removed along the Frankston train line, with construction slated to begin by 2018. This is in addition to the 19 grade separations the Andrews Government has already committed to during its first term. The Committee has been a longtime advocate for grade separations and as such it is pleasing to see a commitment to increasing the rate of removal of level crossings. They impede the ability to increase the frequency of train services due to the already long downtimes of boom gates, which in turn hinders the movement of both vehicles and trams on affected roads. The concept of undertaking the Frankston line works as one 'super project' is also a positive step forward. The best outcomes to improve both traffic congestion and train frequency are dependent on a systematic linebyline approach to removal, while the bundling up of works will help to manage the high costs associated with completing these complex engineering projects.

Digital disruption drives change in the taxi industry

Whether or not you are a Uber user, or like the idea of digital disruptors, recent changes being undertaken by the Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) clearly show that digital disruption will create change. Despite ongoing concerns being raised by the taxi industry over the legality of Uber and efforts to close down operations, the disruptor continues to grow market share as customers make their choice. This has forced the VTA to acknowledge that there is a need to improve their standards of service, which has resulted in a number of new initiatives being introduced. These include driver training simulators, pretrip fare estimates, taxi tracking and enhanced booking technology as well as driver training around customer engagement and route knowledge. Despite the unexpected turn their 'Your Taxis' campaign took, the VTA wants to meet customer expectations in a bid to win back customers.

Join us for Breakfast with Kathryn Fagg, Director, RBA

As part of our role in raising the conversation around issues of importance, the Committee for Melbourne has recently announced its first Leading Thinkers Series. This first series will focus on the topic of 'The Australian Economy Now & Where to From Here' and will kick off with Kathryn Fagg on 18 November. Kathryn is an experienced chair, board member and senior executive having worked across a range of industries, from resources, to manufacturing and logistics, as well as banking and professional services. Some of her past executive roles include President FMCG at Linfox and Managing Director, Banking Products, and General Manager, Retail Banking in New Zealand with ANZ. She now holds an extensive NonExecutive Director portfolio which includes board positions with the Reserve Bank of Australia, Incitec Pivot and Djerriwarrh Investments. As a leading thinker in her field, Kathryn will provide her insights on the economic challenges facing Victoria and Australia in the next 10 years.

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