Friday, July 12, 2013

Somewhere beginning with M - Manchester - Melbourne connections

Melbourne Australia: World’s most liveable city (by InvestVictoria)
via Tumblr

Something beginning with M - the Manchester Melbourne connection
I only lived in Melbourne, Australia, very briefly, but it’s a city I admire greatly. And it’s a city that Manchester has much to learn from and both cities have much knowledge to share.
There’s a love or sport, music and clubbing. Both are cities with proud traditions of welcoming immigrants – Melbourne has the second largest Greek population after Athens and yet still has more Italians than Greeks. All of this has been flooding back recently as I’ve finally got round to reading The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, I know, the book everyone had their head in two years ago. But it’s set in Melbourne, and has provided something of a tour of this ethnic, cultural and sometimes tense melting pot.
Mancunians also share a certain chippines about the main city in our country. Sydneysiders have a swagger and an arrogance and think their city is the first and last place of importance in the country. Sound familiar?
So I was delighted to read in Monocle magazine that Melbourne was named the second most livable city on the planet this year, tucked in behind Copenhagen.
The factors that fell in Melbourne’s favour included a strong economic performance – noting positive jobs growth, regional infrastructure developments, but also improvements in cycling and public transport.
I like the Monocle annual quality of life index because it picks up things that other surveys ignore, but are integral to the happiness of creative and urbane people who value things like shopping hours and amount of outdoor public seating.
As the capital city of the state of Victoria, Melbourne has the feel of a confident and progressive city. It is more industrial and mercantile too, innovative and attractive to international companies. KPMG research found it to be the best city in the world to carry out commercial scientific research, thanks to a generous tax regime.
The state government will give back 45 cents in every dollar spent by start-up businesses with turnover under A$20m, but it’s not just the system, but the ease with which it is implemented. How often do you hear the complaint that UK tax rules are so complicated businesses just don’t bother applying?
But I also return to the issue of autonomy. By targeting research and development, and making some adjustments to its tax policy, the state has been able to make this commitment. We indeed have much to learn and share.
I say all of this, because I’m meeting with a cross-party group of MPs from the Victorian State Parliament next week. They are coming to Manchester to find out about how this city has achieved so much. The public private partnerships here are admired around the world. So it’s particularly flattering that a city like Melbourne has much to learn from Manchester. But I shall very much enjoy the interchange of insights and look forward to sharing them with Downtown members too.
I am currently holding my breath as to whether cricket will be a topic for discussion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Melbourne!! That short promo only begins to do the city justice, when I looked north from the south bank of tha Yarra over a cityscape with over 60 Beetham towers and CIS buildings you realise that our own second city only has one advantage , it has more letters in its name despite both beginning with M. If only I were 30 years younger...