A new report by EY, commissioned by the Canberra Business Chamber and the Canberra Convention Bureau, has lead business bodies to welcome that the consultancy confirms there will be economic benefits from the proposed “Australia Forum” convention centre.
According to the report construction of the Australia Forum will result in benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 2.4 over 20 years.
“Clearly, there is a strong business case for a new convention centre in Canberra, and industry supports investment in this major piece of infrastructure,” says the Property Council of Australia’s ACT Executive Director, Catherine Carter.
“The Property Council acknowledge the considerable body of work undertaken by the Canberra Business Chamber and Canberra Convention Bureau over many years. This latest piece of research underscores the importance of a convention centre for our city’s future.
“The next step is for the ACT Government to develop a robust long-term infrastructure plan for our city. While we welcome Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s commitment to urban renewal, we need a plan that establishes Canberra’s infrastructure priorities for the next thirty years.
“Despite operating in a constrained economy, a range of significant projects – from City to the Lake to Capital Metro – are currently being rolled out. It is essential that we determine our priority projects, develop a plan and work to a timetable to ensure we deliver them.
“A comprehensive, easy-to-understand infrastructure plan, which outlines how these significant projects will be funded, is essential.
“Our region currently lacks a venue able to host major national and international meetings. A new convention centre is an essential piece of infrastructure for our growing capital – one that will create jobs, boost business confidence and help us build our city for the next century,” Ms Carter concluded.
The Canberra Business Chamber has also expressed its delight at the EY report.
“The local business community believes the ACT’s number one infrastructure priority is construction of a venue of international standard that can host major national and international meetings – the Australia Forum,” Canberra Business Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Chris Faulks said.
“The report “Australia Forum, and its potential economic benefits” by EY demonstrates the Australia Forum convention centre will strongly contribute to the ACT economy and employment in the region.
“According to the EY report completed last month, construction of the Australia Forum will result in a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 2.4 over 20 years.
“This compares well with other convention centres and similar economic infrastructure projects,” Ms Faulks said. “It is important to assess this BCR only against like projects because an economic investment such as this should have a higher BCR than social or community investments which provide returns other than purely financial ones.
“The expenditure of delegates attending Australia Forum events is estimated at $3bn in the first 20 years. This is $1.6bn more than the current convention facility is anticipated to bring into the economy.
“Economic returns on offer from the Australia Forum could be even higher than the BCR suggests, as it does not take into account additional inputs to the local economy from people accompanying conference attendees or the boost to tourism from extended stays and people returning for a holiday in the future.
“The Australia Forum will also likely drive new accommodation infrastructure projects. It will help position Canberra as a leading business events destination, underpin demand for international flights and position Canberra as an innovative, knowledge-based economy.
“We commend the ACT Government for providing funding in the 2014-15 Budget to develop a business case and functional design for the Australia Forum,” Ms Faulks said. “This work is now underway and we expect it to be completed by the middle of the year.