09.03.2023Infrastructure & Sustainability: The Melbourne Summit breakout session

Committee for Melbourne, with partner JLL, brought together business, academic, not-for-profit and government leaders to discuss the city’s future at The Melbourne Summit on 2 March.

Designed to generate ideas to make Melbourne a better city to live, work, play and invest, discussion was aided by the release of the Benchmarking Melbourne 2023 report, which measures Melbourne’s performance against 19 global peer cities. Infrastructure and Sustainability – one of three pillars in the report – considers Melbourne’s whole city connectivity, technology and efficiency and environmental outcomes.

Whole City Connectivity:

A city’s ability to facilitate the movement of people and goods efficiently, reliably and at low-cost offers a multitude of economic, health and productivity benefits. In this category, Melbourne ranks 13th of 20 peer cities.

Congestion and overcrowding on Melbourne’s transport network has increased over recent decades. The city has the joint second-longest average commute time among 15 peer cities, while the share of public transport commuters who get to work in less than half an hour is more than 5 per cent lower than the peer average. Fortunately, uptake of micro-mobility transport is growing, with Melbourne now ranked 8th of 15 peers for reported usage of publicly available micro-mobility options, including scooters and bikes. A clear integrated transport plan for Melbourne, which considers end-to-end transport solutions is an opportunity for Melbourne’s future. The Committee has advocated for an integrated transport plan – read our report here.

Technology and Efficiency:

Deployment of smart technologies and digital infrastructure throughout Melbourne could transform everything from our transport infrastructure to our power supply and water systems, to government services. Melbourne ranks 13th of 20 peers in this category.

Melbourne benefits from excellent mobile broadband, ranking 21st out of 171 top global cities in latest average download speeds, with speeds nearly 40 per cent higher than average competitors. Early adoption of 5G and the phasing out of older networks has helped elevate Melbourne’s ranking. But the report suggests that there is an opportunity for Melbourne to improve its fast fixed broadband speed, with NBN and government investment up to 2025 highlighted in the report as targeted towards higher speeds for up to 10 million premises across Australia.

Environmental Outcomes:

City leaders and planners must consider how growth can enhance, not erode, the natural environment, and make serious efforts to create a sustainable city. Melbourne ranks 12th of 20 peer cities in this category.

Renewable energy infiltration into the electricity grid is strong. With one-third of Melbourne’s electricity generation coming from renewable energy sources, the city ranks third among peer cities for this metric. However, there remains work to do in the transport and industrial sectors, where emissions remain stubbornly high. Melbourne has the third highest carbon emissions from ground transport and industry amongst 10 peers.

The city ranks 8th of 14 peers for active and public transport mode share, which sits at 27 per cent; a long way behind Berlin and London, which are both above 60 per cent. Car dependence in Melbourne remains particularly strong.

Tale of Two Cities: A key theme is the tale of two cities, highlighting the divergence between Melbourne’s world-class centre and its fragmented metropolis. This division is readily apparent under the Infrastructure and Sustainability pillar, with evidence highlighting the disparity in public transport access, walkability, electric vehicle charging points and green building access.

Collection of images of speakers in the Infrastructure & Sustainability breakout session at The Melbourne Summit 2023

The Infrastructure and Sustainability Breakout Room – proudly supported by nbn – unpacked various issues associated with Melbourne’s infrastructure, as well as the city’s sustainability credentials. General Manager, Industry Intelligence and Development at nbn, Nigel Pugh, opened proceedings with a presentation focussing on digital trends, how nbn is supporting digital equality, and Melbourne’s broadband network, including changes in residential and commercial tech demands.

Nigel was joined on stage by two local leaders in Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Dr Jonathan Spear and JLL Senior Director of Strategic Relations, Annabel McFarlane. Moderated by JLL General Manager – Victoria, Craig Shute, key issues raised included:

  • The impact of remote working on various assets, notably digital and transport infrastructure, has been significant, with the need to carefully consider the infrastructure pipeline in the wake of such change.
  • The pandemic-induced acceleration of e-commerce is driving changes in supply chains and logistics services, and increasing demand for industrial space.
  • Investment and regulatory support is needed, and should be prioritised, so the Port of Melbourne can meet the demands of a growing freight task.
  • Various factors are inhibiting the transport of more freight on the rail network, including regulatory factors and underinvestment in the regional rail network.
  • The importance of an end-to-end transport solution to support metropolitan-wide connectivity and environmental objectives.
  • Melbourne needs to increase the share of protected land to support biodiversity resilience.

The Committee looks forward to working with our members on its broad infrastructure agenda, including on matters relating to bus reform, freight, Melbourne Airport Rail, transport connectivity to Fisherman’s Bend and technology deployment. For further information on the Committee’s policy agenda, contact Director of Policy and Advocacy, Leanne Edwards at ledwards@melbourne.org.au or Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, Brett Van Duppen at bvanduppen@melbourne.org.au.


Read the other breakout session summaries here: Future Economy or Liveability and Urban Optimisation

Read nbn’s article on investing into Melbourne’s future here.

Sign up for Committee for Melbourne’s Communiqué

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