Sydney is on the verge of joining the ranks of the world’s most influential cities but congestion, the high cost of living and a failure to retain some of the talented international students at the city’s universities may hold it back.
Research to be released by the Committee for Sydney this week suggests Australia’s biggest city is the highest profile centre in the southern hemisphere and is performing strongly in financial services, higher education, attracting investment and its sustainability.
But it is slipping behind other major centres in research and development, innovation, liveability, transport and infrastructure and image brand and influence. It is training students from all over the world but failing to hold some of them to turbo-charge the Australian economy, the report says.Sydney ranked in the top two of the 33 cities for the appeal of its higher education offerings, lack of air pollution, the transparency of the real estate investment market, its scenic assets, safety and visitor brand and identity.
But it was in the bottom two for public transport coverage and efficiency, the cost of living for expats and students, the variety of cultural attractions, technology and digital readiness for the future, and external perceptions of its night-life offerings.
The findings come after the Baird government imposed lockout laws on central city nightspots to curb violence, sparking criticism it has dimmed the vibrancy of Sydney’s night scene.
The state government is also embarking on a multi-billion-dollar public-transport building program, which the report suggested would improve the city’s performance relative to other centres in coming years.
The report — Sustaining The Advantage, Benchmarking Sydney’s Performance —found Sydney had established itself in a high-performing “second-division’’ group of 10-12 contenders with aspirations to join the top seven global centres of London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Paris and Tokyo.
Sydney is still one of the most well-regarded cities, ranking as the most reputable city in the world. However the research showed it was relying more on a cultural economy based on events and bed nights than one driven by creativity and cutting-edge art, with culture in Sydney oriented more towards the visitor economy than resident quality.
Committee for Sydney executive chairman Michael Rose said the report showed there was momentum for Sydney to become a “top-table’’ city but also serious challenges.
“The knock-on impacts of the city growing at such a fast pace are strains upon our overall quality of life as well as public infrastructure. While the city’s infrastructure is improving and receiving significant new investment, it is still a drag on its absolute and comparative performance,’’ Mr Rose said.