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Photo to go with story on the Hashtag Perth report

Perth needs to aim big and grab the opportunity on its doorstep

Back in 2019, long before COVID-19 was on our radar, the Committee for Perth started research on a project aimed at repositioning our city.

The world has changed in ways none of us could ever have predicted in the months since then – but despite that, the recently released Hashtag Perth report delivers a range of recommendations that are very timely.

Yes, a recommendation that Perth should reinforce its global connections – particularly in terms of promoting itself in Asia – will have to go on the backburner until the pandemic has passed.

But there is much more in Hashtag Perth for our city and its many stakeholders to start working towards turning into a reality.

The identified need for a “critical mass of people living, working, visiting, shopping, socialising and being entertained in the city centre” echoes the Property Council WA’s Project 90K blueprint, which targets a population increase of more than 60,000 within City of Perth boundaries. With the City of Perth itself aiming for a residential population of 90,000 by 2050, momentum continues to grow towards addressing an inner-city population density that is nearly four times less than Sydney and Melbourne and which also lags behind Brisbane.

The WA Government’s 75 per cent off-the-plan duty rebate, expanded in early June to include purchases in multi-tiered developments already under construction, should add further impetus to the attraction of inner-city living.

Another timely recommendation from Hashtag Perth – given recent events at home and abroad – is the establishment of a World Centre for Indigenous Cultures. Slowly but surely, through developments like Yagan Square, initiatives such as the Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili interactive map and infrastructure like the Matagarup Bridge, Perth is taking steps towards being a city that not only acknowledges but celebrates its Indigenous heritage.

But the creation of a world-leading centre to put a spotlight on WA’s Indigenous cultures and others from around the world would take this progression several steps further and give it global significance.

Hashtag Perth highlights opportunities for WA to tackle misconceptions about a “boom and bust” economy that is prone to instability – which is another very topical issue given the state is scheduled to effectively be back to business as usual next month, when Phase 5 of the COVID-19 recovery road map kicks in. The pandemic remains a global threat, but Premier Mark McGowan is right to describe our response – and our associated positioning for economy recovery – as world-leading.

Another theme that runs throughout Hashtag Perth is the need to establish our city as one that is capable of hosting the biggest events, in order to enhance its reputation on the local, national and international stages.

The report identifies the prospective World Centre for Indigenous Cultures as “one big thing” that could put Perth and WA “on the map.”

I’d argue that ongoing issues with coronavirus in Victoria mean we’ve now also been gifted a second opportunity of significance.

Optus Stadium is continually referenced in Hashtag Perth as a venue that is aesthetically pleasing and world class, but also one that – despite being awarded the title as the most beautiful sporting facility in the world last year – is perhaps yet to receive the recognition it deserves.

An AFL hub in Perth offers a unique opportunity to correct that. A Dockers and Eagles Western Derby in front of a full house, and the prospect of big Victorian clubs in Collingwood and Geelong being based at Burswood, presents the ideal way to showcase our new home of football and other major events to a very large and very captive national audience.

Throw in our generally good weather and pristine beaches, also widely referenced in Hashtag Perth, and a city with its pubs, restaurants and other attractions open for business with very few restrictions  – indeed, basically none from mid-July, all going to plan – and it’s hard to imagine why our eastern states cousins wouldn’t want to come check it out for themselves.

With international travel remaining off the table for the foreseeable future, it’s clear we’re going to have to look east rather than north in the immediate future for the visitors that will further lift our economy out of the COVID-19 bunker.

Time will tell whether we’re able to pull off more ambitious feats, by luring either or both the AFL grand final and Boxing Day Test from the MCG.

But in a year in which very little has gone to script, it’s clear that neither are out of the question.

And if there’s one thing that Hashtag Perth makes certain, it’s that our city needs to aim big.

Fran Lawrence  leads Cannings Purple’s Corporate Affairs team and has more than 20 years’ experience in media and communications. She is an expert in communication in the property sector.  Contact Fran.

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