What’s VECCI’s vision for Melbourne?Posted: September 16, 2010
The Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) released five policy papers on Monday aimed at guiding the pre-election decision-making of the major parties.
The paper on Infrastructure and Liveability is of particular interest to the Melbourne Urbanist. Apart from a short introduction emphasising the economic importance of infrastructure, it’s essentially a list of actions, some very specific, which looks like it was cobbled together by the proverbial committee.
It includes some current projects such as the planned Melbourne Metro, but there are some other ideas that are very interesting, to say the least.
- All road users, including cyclists, should be licensed and vehicles registered
- The next State government should adopt ‘zero tolerance’ approaches to crime
- An airport rail link should be planned for long term, as well as better rail links to Avalon Airport and its upgrade to international status
- The precinct on the Federation Square east site over the Jolimont rail yards could house a Melbourne residence for the Prime Minister and an internationally focused hub to incubate innovative industries spanning contemporary art and culture, sustainability, innovation and trade
- Removal of level crossings
- Completion of metropolitan ring road – North East Interconnector
- Cross-city tunnel links – east-west and north-south
- Construction of Outer Metropolitan Ring Road
- Develop the ports of Hastings and Geelong and related road and rail transport links
I wouldn’t know where to start with this shopping list. Each proposal throws up issues that would require a separate post to consider properly (although I’ve previously discussed bicycle licensing and the airport rail link).
As fascinating as it would be to comment on a breathtaking idea like building a massive platform over the Jolimont rail yards in order to provide subsidised incubators for start-up arts businesses (!!!), I’ll settle at this stage for a more general comment.
What I don’t get from this policy is in any sense of a broader framework or strategy about where VECCI thinks Melbourne should be headed. Where do they want to go? If they know, how do they propose we get there?
I don’t even see how many of the proposed actions fit with each other or their relative priority. Symptomatic of this non-strategic thinking is the relative paucity of actions related to key policy areas like housing affordability and public transport. This is surprising in a policy on liveability, given the increasing importance of human capital in the State economy.
What, for example, does VECCI propose in order to increase the supply of affordable housing within established suburbs? What does it propose in order to deal with traffic congestion and to lessen the fuel and emission impacts of cars? Is the Metro (a new rail line from the West to the CBD and on to the Domain) all that’s needed for public transport?
And where are the full implications of the proposed actions evaluated? Eliminating level crossings, for example, would be extraordinarily costly with significant environmental impacts. Which crossings? What would it cost? What are the benefits (presumably mainly in the form of better traffic flow)? What is the timing?
An organisation of the size and influence of VECCI should take a much more considered and strategic approach to where it wants to take the State and Melbourne.
PS: when I get time I’ll look at the specific proposals