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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Docklands has been good for business

05 Dec 2013

Docklands has been good for business Image

As someone who knows a thing or two about business, ANZ CEO Mike Smith says Docklands has been good for the giant bank.

He says the opportunity to design the bank’s own building is paying dividends, as is the suburb itself.

“Docklands is coming of age,” he said. “Any development like this takes time to mature and I think it’s unrealistic to expect it all to work immediately, because the culture of a place evolves. And that’s what Docklands has been doing.”

With 7000 staff in Docklands, Mr Smith’s organisation contributes a lot to the local economy and Docklands also gives back to the bank.

“Our experience overall has been a very good one,” he said.  “I think the staff were originally quite worried about coming down here in terms of its perceived isolation.  It was quite important that we got the food outlets up and running and that helped a lot.”

Mr Smith said the most senior managers of the local financial institutions were all based at Docklands, contrary to a common perception that only “back of house” work was done here.

“I haven’t heard that and it certainly isn’t the case in our institutions,” he said. “I find that strange because, if you look at the banks, the NAB head office is here, our office is here, the CBA’s

Melbourne office is here and their head people are here too,” he said. “All my meetings are here.  All my customers come down here to see me.”

Mr Smith acknowledged that Docklands was sometimes underestimated.

“If people haven’t been down here for a long time, I think they sort of think it’s half developed.  It’s evolving and is probably much more developed than people realise,” he said.

“It’s a bit like Southbank.  People used to talk about Southbank in the same way.  Now it’s part of the city and they don’t even notice.  So, I think it’s just a question of time.”

Mr Smith does have some gripes though – in particular, traffic.

“I don’t think that it has really been thought through.  They have slightly improved getting out of here, but it can still take up to 20 minutes to get out (on to Wurundjeri Way) which is ridiculous really,” he said. “And, as they build more stuff, they have to think about the traffic.”

“They also made a lot of the roads single lane rather than double lane when they had the space.  It doesn’t make sense to me.”

“Discouraging cars may be an interesting concept, but it’s not very practical because you need to have extremely good public transport to support that structure.”

“It may be environmentally sensible, but it actually reduces productivity quite considerably and, right now, that’s important.  The economy needs stimulus. It doesn’t need things done to it to slow it down.”

“In terms of real retail access, it’s a shame that Myer did not have a bit of a store in its office.  Docklands needs a shopping centre, which is still missing at the moment.”

“Being on water and having these views of the bay is very attractive.  Water brings something special to a development. One of the things that we don’t use properly is the river, in terms of a taxi service.  That would be a lovely way to get to work,” Mr Smith said.

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