How can Melbourne reclaim its liveability crown?

Cressida Wall, the Property Council’s new executive director in Victoria, says for Melbourne to reclaim its crown as the world’s most liveable city requires tough, long term decisions.

In August, Vienna dislodged Melbourne at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Index. Melbourne had led 140 urban centres for the past seven years.

Cressida Wall“I joke that we’re declaring war on Vienna. But what we really need is for politicians to look ahead and make long-term decisions that secure Victoria’s prosperity and liveability,” Wall says.

Victorians head to the polls on 24 November, and Wall stresses that her focus is not on the 50-odd days until the election. “We’re conducting a 200-day campaign in the lead-up to the first Budget.”

The Property Council is pushing for policies that support appropriate tax settings, planning and supply with all parties ahead of the election, Wall explains.

Underpinning the Property Council’s election platform are five key recommendations:

  1. Accelerate housing supply and choice to respond to a critical housing shortage
  2. Drive an evidence-led infrastructure pipeline to support a growing Victoria
  3. Remove politics from our planning system to improve its independence
  4. Unlock our capital city to support a 24/7 economy
  5. Improve the tax environment to welcome all investments.

Wall has spent the last 15 years working in the infrastructure space and was the former chief of staff to Victorian Roads and Ports minister, and now Treasurer, Tim Pallas. She was also head of policy development for former Victorian Premier John Brumby.

“Infrastructure gets me out of the bed in the morning. I’m a passionate advocate for integrated planning around infrastructure.”

“Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city,” Wall says, pointing to latest demographic data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which finds Victoria posted a population increase of 137,400 in the 12 months to March. Most of these people chose Melbourne as their home.

But Melbourne is experiencing growing pains, Wall says.

In May, the Property Council launched Creating Great Australian Cities, a report by global urbanist and cities expert, Professor Greg Clark. The research confirmed that Melbourne’s brand is better than its product. The city scored poorly on liveability factors including congestion, digital connectivity and government fragmentation.

“Property Council members are actively looking for opportunities to respond to our growing community’s needs. What worries our members is uncertainty around planning.

“We need a unified vision that gives both the industry and the community certainty about where their city is heading.

“We will need another 1.1 million dwellings in Melbourne by 2051. While politicians will always want to make politics part of infrastructure, that can’t be divorced from evidence-based planning that serves the long-term interests of the state.”

Property policy is about people’s lives, Wall adds.

Property directly accounts for 12.4 per cent of Victoria’s GSP – or $41. 7 billion in gross state product. More than one in four Victorians draw a wage from the property industry, which supports 331,000 jobs in the state.

“The people I meet in the property industry are incredibly hard working, intelligent and really sensitive to building places that meet the community’s needs.

“Around one in four dollars in every household budget goes into property through mortgage or rent – so it’s part of everyone’s life, every day. Where you live and work is woven so deeply into the fabric of our state.

“Everyone has a real stake in this industry – which is why we need policies that work for people while contributing to a thriving economy.”