In Parliament

Adjournment - City of Melbourne



Thursday, 26 November 2020.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (17:18):

My adjournment is for the Premier, and the action I seek is for the Premier to kickstart our city, the heart of Victoria.

The city of Melbourne is the heart of our State. The city delivers a quarter of the state’s economic turnover, $104 billion last year, and almost 1 million people worked in, lived in or visited it each weekday. The city is our thriving economic and cultural centre.

Now it is a ghost town, windswept and vacant. Empty shops only lead to more empty shops. Over one in four businesses are either closed or vacant. The Property Council of Australia estimates that office occupancy is as low as 7 per cent.

Since March almost one in six city jobs have been wiped out. Many of the 17,000 city businesses are on their knees.

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on the City of Melbourne, shows that economic output in the city has decreased by 22 per cent and projects a decrease of 110 per cent over five years. The report also estimates that the pandemic will cost 75,000 of the half-a-million city jobs, and there will be a projected 79,000 fewer jobs over the next five years.

Our city needs a kickstart.

New South Wales included out-and-about city-activity-boosting vouchers in their budget. Victoria’s budget, which is $155 billion in debt, has no city reactivation plan. In fact, the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery has stuck his head in the sand and said there is not a problem.

Labor just do not get it.

The city needs its lifeblood back. It needs a returned private and public sector workforce, but hardly any of the hundreds of thousands of government employees based in the city are coming into their offices.

Instead of including the 25,000 city-based public servants in the recent announcements of one in four workers returning to work, the Premier exempted

To make matters worse, the public service has privately confirmed the secret plan to only return to a maximum office capacity of 50 per cent, with the remainder working flexibly. And discussions have taken place about rationalising office space.

Melbourne City Council, by contrast, will have 25 per cent of its workforce back on Monday and plan to have nearly all of their workforce back as soon as the Premier relaxes restrictions.

I call on the Premier to stand up for the city and pump life into the heart of our State’s centre.