18.01.2024Building a better tomorrow: pre-budget submission

For many years Melbourne has been recognised globally as one of the world’s most liveable cities, renowned for its buoyant economy and strengths in major sporting, artistic and cultural events. As Melbourne’s population grows, the city must grapple with emerging and growing challenges, including delivering affordable housing, reducing transport network congestion, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and attracting and retaining talented people.

Amidst these challenges, preserving Melbourne’s liveability requires a strategic approach in the upcoming Victorian State budget. Committee for Melbourne outlines its priorities in its pre-budget submission and presents a suite of recommendations for focus across areas such as energy and sustainability, skills, housing, planning and infrastructure.

As the Victorian Government grapples with debt levels, and decisions about where to invest and spend, then taking a long-term view of Melbourne’s growth model, is essential. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the developed world, Melbourne is projected to reach approximately 9 million people by mid-century, with the city’s freight task and visitor arrivals also anticipated to increase substantially. Accommodating this growth while ensuring Melbourne’s liveability, productivity, and sustainability, will be crucial.

Addressing this set of challenges successfully may require a new growth model for the city. As highlighted in Benchmarking Melbourne 2023, Greater Melbourne has become a ‘tale of two cities’, characterised by unequal access to public transport, green spaces and amenities. Measures that improve access to all of Melbourne’s offerings, particularly for those living in the outer and growth suburbs, should be considered.

The Committee therefore encourages the Victorian Government to ensure that ‘Plan Victoria’, once developed, includes a comprehensive, integrated transport plan for Melbourne, which incorporates transport, land use and economic development planning. Only through the development and implementation of such a plan will the government help ensure that all Melburnians have sufficient access to services and opportunities.

Aligned with this plan, will be the need to ensure that there are appropriate targets and plans for housing. Surging demand for accommodation has driven up house and rental prices across the city. According to Benchmarking Melbourne 2023, Melbourne is the fifth most unaffordable housing market in the English-speaking world – an issue that has significant ramifications for the community and economy.

While the government’s ‘Big Housing Build’ and ‘Housing Statement’ are welcome, addressing housing challenges may require further policies, including investigating opportunities to implement a broad-based levy to fund social and affordable housing, as well as increasing medium-density housing in established suburbs near existing infrastructure.

Melbourne’s transport system is under pressure due to multiple factors, including the city’s population growth, combined with rising tourism and trade volumes. Benchmarking Melbourne 2023 indicates that Melbourne has the joint second longest average public transport commute time among 15 peer cities. The Committee has advocated for an integrated transport plan for Melbourne, to help enable seamless mobility throughout the city. Such a plan should include various policies, programs and investments, including reforming the city’s bus system. As outlined in the Committee’s Course Correction report, offering a viable alternative to car travel would improve accessibility for residents living in the middle, outer and growth suburbs.

The Committee’s pre-budget submission for the Victoria State Government addresses various strategic challenges facing Melbourne. Issues associated with the city’s housing crisis, as well as planning and transport matters, need to be addressed, while attention must also be paid to challenges associated with infrastructure provision, the energy transition, skills, freight, Fishermans Bend, international education, Melbourne Airport Rail and the experience economy.

Read our pre-budget submission here

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