With the emergence of Springfield and the growth of the western corridor, and the large commuter flows from the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast every day, it doesn’t make much sense to talk about Brisbane’s identity – or an economic strategy for Brisbane – that is independent of its role as the centre of the 200km City (from Noosa to the Tweed). Nonetheless, it appears the Brisbane Lord Mayor is focussing solely on Brisbane City in his current inquiry into Brisbane’s identity (Who are we? Mayor wants answers):
Brisbane’s Lord Mayor wants the city to settle its identity issues and push ahead more aggressively with a five-year economic development plan by November.
Graham Quirk said Brisbane had to come to terms with its identity and ask itself what made the city “different”.
“I think we still have a way to go in terms of identifying Brisbane,” he said.“If I can talk perhaps in tourism terms for a moment; what is it that Brisbane really is about?.
“We know we have a great river here, we have great conditions for people to visit our city, but we also need to differentiate, in terms of tourism and economic growth, what it is that we stand for.
“And then individually and collectively, business and the citizens of this city have to sell this city.”
As much as I love Brisbane and think it’s a great place to live, I can’t see it ever being a major tourist destination – there’s no beach and parts of it, such as upper Roma St and Woolloongabba, are ugly – but luckily other parts of the 200km City (i.e. the Sunshine and Gold Coasts) are major tourist attractions. Hence, I don’t think tourism should be a major focus of an economic development plan for Brisbane.
Given the strong linkages across SEQ regional economies, and the differing strengths and opportunities of different regions, Brisbane needs to coordinate its economic development plan with other SEQ councils, which it should be doing through the SEQ Council of Mayors. Indeed, instead of economic development plans for each council, there could be one SEQ-wide plan. This could include the promotion of tourism to the whole region and policies to enhance Brisbane’s role as the service/administration centre of the 200km City – e.g. through:
- improving Brisbane’s public transport links with Ipswich, Logan and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts; and
- policies that make Brisbane more attractive to creative professionals, such as free wi-fi in public areas.
My previous posts on the 200km City and urban policy include: