NSW’s privatisation windfall
Following up on their election commitment, the NSW Baird Government has finalised the 99year lease of TransGrid. An Australialed consortium of Canadian and Middle Eastern investment funds came out on top of the bidding process with a $10.26 billion deal. After paying off a $3 billion debt attached to the business, $7 billion will be left in the government coffers to be spent on infrastructure, with more to come. The NSW government set a $13 billion target for the lease of three networks in total – TransGrid, AusGrid and Endeavour Energy. With the first of these deals raising $10 billion, NSW is clearly on track to exceed this target by a substantial margin. As part of the agreement, the State Government will retain a strong influence over TransGrid as the lessor, licensor and safety and reliability regulator. TransGrid will continue to be regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator which will determine network charges.
From the ground up
This week Infrastructure Victoria released its first official paper From the Ground Up: Developing a 30 year infrastructure strategy for Victoria. This positioning paper highlights the reasons why Victoria needs a 30 year infrastructure strategy. It quite rightly notes that infrastructure influences almost every aspect of our lives – how and where we live, ease of access to services and jobs, and how we connect between the two. Efficient, high quality infrastructure will play a determining role in helping to lift productivity performance going forward – a key to Melbourne’s ongoing global competitiveness. With the potentially ambitious aim of producing a comprehensive 30 year plan by the end of 2016, the paper acknowledges that difficult choices will need to be made around what trade-offs Victorians are prepared to accept to secure the future we want. How brave this new independent entity will be in advocating for those difficult choices and decisions that must be made going forward will ultimately be the key to realising success.
Revival of Yarra’s north bank set to go
A $10 million redevelopment of the north bank of the Yarra will get underway in early 2016. North Wharf, a key parcel of land near the intersection of Flinders Street and Wurundjeri Way has been sold by the State Government to Asset 1 WTH. The redevelopment of North Wharf, which provides an important link between Docklands and the underutilised north bank of the river, will include a waterfront residential and retail development and a new public park. As part of the works, the historic wharf and goods shed located between Jim Stynes Bridge and the Mission to Seafarers building will also be refurbished. The vision of the redevelopment is to deliver an integrated and iconic precinct that includes a new waterfront destination for Melbourne. If, as Lord Mayor Robert Doyle predicts, Etihad Stadium will in time be bulldozed to make a better connection between the city and Docklands, this development will no doubt become one of the key places to be.
Melbourne expensive – but not as bad as some
The Rental Affordability Index, a report developed with National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics and Planning has found that the cheapest rent in Melbourne can be found in Melton, Albion and Seville East, while Albert Park, Beaumaris and Brighton are the most expensive suburbs to rent in. The report found that renters in Albert Park spend 42 per cent of income on rent while those in Brighton spend 39 per cent of income on rent. Conversely, people renting in Melton, Albion and Seville East spend just 17 per cent of their income renting. Not surprisingly, the report notes that with regard to housing stress (defined as paying more than 30 per cent of earnings on housing costs), those people who work in the services sector in areas like retail, hospitality and cleaning, are hit the hardest. Despite the high costs in some areas, across the board, Melbourne (with an average rental rate of 24 per cent of income) compares favourably to rental rates in Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide.
Last Kilometre Freight Plan
The City of Melbourne is currently seeking feedback on the draft Last Kilometre Freight Plan. As Melbourne continues to grow, the CBD will become busier with more people moving around the city at the same time as the number of freight deliveries increase. The Last Kilometre Freight Plan outlines a series of actions which aim to make the delivery of freight as effective as possible in and around the congested inner city areas – a consideration that will become more important as major infrastructure works commence in coming years. Freight delivery impacts everyone who comes to the city, and regardless of whether or not you are the owner who runs a business, or a visitor enjoying Melbourne’s hospitality, delivering freight when and where it is needed and on time is crucial. The City of Melbourne invites freight specialists, business operators and the broader community to play a role in thinking about our freight future by providing their comments.