Press Release

AECOM’s newest Brilliant Cities report finds that Australia’s Fishermans Bend could be a AUS$12 billion boon to the economy by 2030

October 31, 2018

“Transforming Fishermans Bend” is a plan for a globally competitive employment and innovation cluster

MELBOURNE (October 31, 2018) AECOM, a premier, fully integrated infrastructure firm, released today its Transforming Fishermans Bend: Unlocking innovation and jobs for Melbourne report, which outlines a strategic plan for the employment precinct that could create AUS$12 billion[i] of economic benefit for the region by 2030.

In order to achieve this goal, the report outlines 10 recommendations to establish a 230-hectare, globally competitive employment precinct at Fishermans Bend with around 55,000 advanced industry jobs, capable of supporting a new light-rail connection with the central business district and a 15-minute ferry between Salmon Street and Docklands.

According to the report, Fishermans Bend has all the attributes of a globally successful employment and innovation cluster, including a highly accessible location with direct access to the freeway, port and easy access to rail combined with a foundation of innovative public and private sector employers.

Report author and AECOM’s Melbourne Cities leader, Tim O’Loan said, “Much of the thinking to date around Fishermans Bend has been focused on planning issues in the residential areas. This has drawn focus away from the employment area resulting in a lack of clarity on what needs to happen in the next 10 years to ensure the precinct is home to up to 80,000 jobs by 2050, the target set out by the government in its Fishermans Bend Framework.”

“Our AUS$12 billion projection represents around 4% of the Victoria’s AUS$300 billion[ii] of economic activity if it were achieved today”, continued Mr. O’Loan. “However, the key to achieving this is the creation of an innovation and employment cluster at Fishermans Bend that can participate in the advanced manufacturing market, essential if Melbourne wants to compete with cities that are already investing heavily in innovation corridors and precincts.”

“If we want to achieve this target — and doing so would have significant benefits to the whole community — we need a strategic plan and a commitment to fund the key moves, starting right now. Time is against us if we want to attract the high quality knowledge and research-led employers seeking to operate in the world’s most diverse, collaborative and globally connected precincts.”

Having delivered several client projects in Fishermans Bend and undertaken its own research, AECOM has developed 10 recommendations and a new ‘Urban Precinct Investment Tool’, as a catalyst for positive action.

AECOM’s 10 recommendations are to:

  1. Develop a governing and coordinating authority
  2. Invest in rubber-wheeled ‘pre-light rail’ transit solutions
  3. Attract leading international universities to complement the local universities
  4. Focus on the advanced industrial and manufacturing sector
  5. Actively include the creative industries
  6. Attract and support development along Salmon Street and the light rail corridor of Turner Street and develop these as distinctive urban boulevards
  7. Look beyond the General Motors Holden (GMH) site and actively support the development of other ‘campus’ zones that complement the GMH ‘core’
  8. Open up the waterfront in collaboration with the Port of Melbourne
  9. Invest in the precinct as a test bed location to demonstrate emerging technologies
  10. Engage with large, small and micro businesses.

The Transforming Fishermans Bend report also outlines how to create a place where the best people, ideas and technology can come together to drive Melbourne’s advanced manufacturing sector. According to the report, if Fishermans Bend is not a magnet for international universities and creative industries driving innovation and collaboration at a precinct-wide scale, it will not reach its fullest potential as Australia’s largest urban-renewal project.

Mr. O’Loan said, “We know the employment precinct has far greater potential than is being currently considered, and if curated properly, it will help to sustain a more vibrant and connected residential precinct as well. The development trajectories for the Fishermans Bend employment precinct are highly sensitive to the scale and form of infrastructure investment, governance arrangements and the type of industry and development motivated to invest there.”

The report sets out the following three potential future development scenarios for Fishermans Bend:

  • Fragmented: No precinct-wide development authority and where the market leads the property development approach. This would lead to isolated developments and deliver short-term financial benefits for individual interests, but limit longer-term value creation
  • Baseline: Based on the Fisherman’s Bend Taskforce’s framework, it would be home to local universities and collaboration between advanced and defence-based manufacturing
  • Enhanced: A high-value manufacturing hub that is home to international universities and research organisations and which can help to maximise job creation and drive economic activity to create a globally competitive employment and innovation cluster.


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[i] This includes the estimate of the value added by economic activity generated by direct employment associated with advanced industries, research and its commercialisation.

[ii] Currently estimated at $300 billion according to Invest Victoria

Media Contact:
Johnny Sollitt-Davis
Director, External Affairs Australia New Zealand
+61 3 9653 8500