High profile speakers, leading commentators, industry representatives and academics brought their analysis to bear on the question of Victoria's future at the conference 'Victoria at the Crossroads?', held from 23-24 August 2012.
Professional services firms are becoming one of the state's strongest sources of growth, the conference was told. An article in The Age by Tim Colebatch highlights VU's Centre for Strategic Economic Studies Professor Bruce Rasmussen's findings, saying:
"Melbourne's future is here. In the past decade, new professional services firms have mushroomed in inner Melbourne, becoming the state's strongest source of growth in private sector jobs, a conference on Victoria's future has been told."
The Victoria: at the Crossroads conference, co-sponsored by Victoria University, the Committee for Melbourne, and The Age, heard that new firms in Victoria's two fastest-growing industries - finance, and professional and scientific services - are overwhelmingly choosing to set up in the buzz of the CBD, and in the inner suburbs.
By contrast, new workplaces in the transport, warehousing, and wholesale trade are springing up in outer western and northern suburbs, along the Western Ring Road, Professor Bruce Rasmussen of Victoria University said.
"These clusters of emerging industries hold the key to Victoria's future producing food, services and tourism, and education opportunities for the booming economies of Asia."
Other speakers highlighted investment in new infrastructure and education were key factors in making Victoria more productive.
A highlight of the two-day conference was Prime Minister Julia Gillard's address.
Summary Program and Presentations
Dinner and Debate: The Risks and Opportunities Facing the Victorian Economy
Welcome: George Pappas (Victoria University and Committee for Melbourne)
Chair: Prof. Peter Dawkins (Victoria University)
Panel Speakers: Bill Evans (Westpac), Tim Colebatch (The Age), Elizabeth Proust (Company Director), Prof. Ian Harper (Deloitte Access Economics)
Opening Address: The Role of State Policy in the Current Environment
The Hon Kim Wells (Victorian Treasurer)
Session 1: The Role of the State and Federal Government in this Economic Environment
Chair: The Hon Lindsay Tanner (Victoria University and Lazard)
Panel Speakers: Saul Eslake (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), Howard Ronaldson (Dept of Business and Innovation VIC) and Adele Ferguson (The Age)
Session 2: Demography, Infrastructure and Urban Planning
Chair: Prof. Peter Sheehan (CSES, Victoria University)
Panel Speakers: Brad Vann (Clayton UTZ): Demography, Infrastructure and Urban Planning, Prof. Bruce Rasmussen (CSES, Victoria University): Melbourne as a globally competitive city, Kate Brennan (Fed Square) and Jennifer Cunich (Property Council of Australia)
The Hon Julia Gillard, Prime Minister
Session 3: Vision for Victoria – A Way Forward
Chair: Andrew Holden (The Age)
Panel Speakers: Pru Sanderson (GHD), Justin Bokor (Ernst & Young), Jürgen Schneider (Siemens): Sustainability as an opportunity, Nicholas Gruen (Lateral Economics): Regulation as a service: Co-evolution in Delaware
Session 4: Facilitated Discussion Groups
Session 5: Conference Conclusions
Chair: Prof. Peter Dawkins
Panel Speakers: Prof. Rod Maddock (Victoria University), Peter Rohan (Ernst & Young), George Pappas (Victoria University and Committee for Melbourne), Andrew Holden (The Age)
Related editorials and news articles:
- George Pappas, Victoria ponders uncertain future
- Elizabeth Proust, Policies for a better future in Victoria
- Nicholas Gruen, Fording the downturn
- Peter Dawkins, Learning is the key to the state's future wealth
- Tim Colebatch, For Victoria, it's a case of life in the slow lane
- Josh Gordon, State plea for link road cash priority
- Tim Colebatch, Professional services key to state's future prosperity
- Editorial, State left to drift as confidence slips
- Peter Sheehan, Time to get over our debt hysteria as boom ends
- Tim Colebatch, Gain, pain, the whole cycle again