The son of a successful Melbourne entrepreneur writes:


The
Melbourne versus Sydney debate is very interesting. You’ll never get a
straight answer – but let’s look at a different thesis. I’ll call it
the “independent Melbourne” theory. I personally believe Melburnians
are the most creative and entrepreneurial of all Aussies. Therefore,
when the going gets good, when people are making money, what happens in
Australia’s two biggest cities?

In Sydney, big business gets
bigger. People flock to large companies. Foreign investors see the
Harbour Bridge and think: that’s where we set up. People stay in their
jobs, do what they keep doing. They’ve got ridiculous mortgages/rents
and general prices to support – they’re not going to take a risk.

In
Melbourne things are good, so I’m going to go out and set up my own
business. Cheaper place to live, I can take a punt. Big businesses
devolve. They are replaced by a myriad of smaller firms. Competition
heats up. Crikey is the perfect example. Where else but Melbourne would
you find a strong, subversive and intellectual group of staff and a
relatively cheap rent so that you don’t have to sell the kids to
support the business before it finds its feet?

In summary, while
big business may be in Sydney, what about start-ups? What about the
rise of SMEs in Melbourne which became bigger listed companies. I’m
thinking of Seek.com, Sausage Software and MYOB? That’s where I think
Melbourne’s strength is.

Is Melbourne really in decline as Jeff
Kennett, Michael Kroger and Stephen Mayne argue? It just depends on
your definition of decline. Yes, ten of the 15 largest Australian
companies have their head offices in Sydney, but for how long will
those companies remain top companies? I’m looking at it from a longer
term perspective. Look back only 20 years when Melbourne was
undoubtedly the financial centre of Australia. What might happen in
another 20 years?

What sort of economic shift will occur which
will lead to new industries and functions, all of which seem to be
firstly popular in Melbourne before the people in Sydney cotton on?
Melbourne – the early adopters! Creative cities are naturally, and over
the longer term, the cities which will succeed.

I just can’t
understand how a city like Sydney, whose citizens are generally unhappy
with life, can ever totally dominate as a Paris/London style
international metropolis. In the longer term, I see Melbourne as the
Milan to Sydney’s Rome.

CRIKEY: An interesting perspective. Keep the feedback coming to [email protected]