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Schrinner goes straight to the top with his warning about shrinking CBDs

Business

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner is concerned CBD life will not return to normal without additional support and has raised the issue before National Cabinet.

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In a presentation to National Cabinet today, Schrinner said office occupancy rates had increased from a low last year.

However, despite greater certainty over pandemic policies and measures, Schrinner said there was emerging data to suggest that growth was now tapering off. Lower than normal occupancy rates could have a major long-term impact on local economies, commercial property prices, public transport systems, and even city development and planning.

“The working-from-home phenomena may suit many people but we can’t ignore the fact it has an economic consequence,” said Schrinner, representing not only Brisbane but the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors.

“Councils have been undertaking a range of initiatives, including waiving rates, fast-tracking maintenance and providing hospitality discounts, to help CBD businesses and to entice people back.

“However, more needs to be done to get Australia’s major cities fully back on their feet.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the presentation from his Liberal colleague, and issued a public call for workers to return to city offices (not withstanding the current issues in Melbourne).

“We would encourage private employers to move in that direction,” Morrison said.

”That will be good for jobs, good for the beating heart of our cities and I thank very much the Lord Mayor of Brisbane for his presentation today.”

Morrison said he was concerned that some multinational corporations were following pandemic policies set overseas, and keeping workers away from the CBD. He called on those corporations to “indigenise” their policies to Australian conditions, and will also seek updated health advice on office density requirements for social distancing.

The issue arose as National Cabinet discussed State and Territory governments providing more support to businesses affected by lockdowns.

While the pandemic has prompted some to move out of the city, Schrinner said 77 per cent of Australia’s population growth over the past decade had occurred in state capitals.

“If we’re going to get Australia’s economy firing on all cylinders again, we have to get people back into city centres and using public transport,” Schrinner said.

Schrinner said some cities had experienced greater traffic congestion as a result of commuters avoiding public transport.

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