Committee Communiqué

The Hon. Jacinta Allan MP

Today the Committee hosted The Hon. Jacinta Allan MP, Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Employment over lunch. The Minister touched on a range of issues of importance from both a public transport and jobs creation point of view, noting that works for both the programmed removal of the first tranche of level crossings and plans for the start of the Melbourne Metro project are well underway. These projects will play an important role in creating jobs as well as stimulating the economy, and seeing shovels in the ground will provide an important boost for confidence. Minister Allan also referred to ongoing investment in rolling stock and the importance of stimulating jobs in the manufacturing sector by keeping contracts for the build of trains and trams in Victoria. The role of the new Federal Minister for Cities and the Built Environment was also noted as an acknowledgment of the important role all levels of government play in building city capacity. The Committee would like to thank Minister Allan for joining us to provide her insights, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth for hosting the lunch at their new and impressive Collins Street premises.

A little off track on federal rail funding

Hopes that federal dollars are set to flow to the Melbourne Metro project jumped last week following Prime Minister Turnbull’s public transport trip around the city. Around the country, speculation that the PM’s new attitude to rail will see federal dollars flow has led to a spate of potential rail projects being raised. New Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Jamie Briggs has however been quick to dampen the enthusiasm of states, reiterating that there is no new ‘magical bucket’ of transport funding available and that the federal government is not 'a free bank'. States will still need to commit funds – which can include federal dollars gained through the asset recycling scheme – and sensible and detailed business plans will still need to be submitted via Infrastructure Australia (IA). On the upside for Victoria, the original Melbourne Metro proposal previously presented to IA was assessed as ready to proceed and although there have been some modifications, there is at least a sound business case to put forward which, according to Minister Briggs, is not the case for many other state proposals.

Who decides how many is enough?

Just released new population growth figures that show Melbourne is the fastest growing city in Australia have sparked the debate of howmany people are too many? Speaking with Jon Faine, CEO Kate  Roffey noted that there is more than enough opportunity in Melbourne – in a spatial sense at least – to accommodate our rapidly growing population but that success will rely on some sensible strategies around urban infill. We have a  tendency to equate densification, or urban infill, with highrise-apartment blocks and that  is not the case. There are places that suit highrise-living, and places where density can be achieved by much more appropriate low and midrise developments. We have sprawled enormously in recent decades, and unfortunately we have not provided the supporting infrastructure necessary to maintain connectivity and liveability in underserviced areas. It is not a case of too many people, but rather a case of too few people in the areas that have the infrastructure builtin to service a much larger population – that is the issue we must tackle.

Melbourne 27th on Global Financial Centres Index

Melbourne has ranked 27th (up from 28th in 2014) on the 2015 Global Financial Centres Index which ranks the world’s 84 leading financial centres across several dimensions including business environment, financial sector development, infrastructure, human capital as well as reputational and general factors. London topped the index beating New York, which dropped from first in 2014 to second this year. Hong Kong and Singapore ranked second and third respectively. Sydney – the only other Australian city to rank on the index – came in at 15th, a jump up the ranking scale from 21st in 2014. The study reveals that the top financial centres on the index tend to be more stable than others. New York and London are consistently ranked as the two most stable centres in the world and the gap between these two cities and those following is considerable, making it unlikely others will challenge for the top position any time soon. Both Sydney and Melbourne are considered to be ‘dynamic’ centres, however Sydney sits much closer to the 'stable' end of the spectrum, and Melbourne closer to the 'unpredictable' end – which is a major factor contributing to the difference in rankings.

Industry 4.0

According to a new report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), we are currently in the midst of a fourth wave of technological-advancement – Industry 4.0. BCG note that Industry 4.0 will make it possible to gather and analyse data across machines, enabling faster, more flexible, and more efficient processes to produce higher quality goods at reduced costs. The result will be increased manufacturing productivity, a shift in economics, industrial growth, and a modified workforce profile. For those thinking this is a significant change to the way we have traditionally done business – it is. Ultimately, the Industry 4.0 wave will change the competitiveness of companies and transform the industrial workforce. However, there is a big upside amidst all this upheaval. BCG believes that technology will mean more jobs will be gained than lost, although workers will require significantly different skills. The key to riding this wave of success will be to adapt, and those cities and companies that adapt most quickly, will be the ones that will reap the rewards.

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