Earlier this month, Victoria’s former Premier Jeffrey Kennett spoke at MPavilion on the topic of Melbourne’s 21st century urban frontier. With a strong emphasis on the arts, culture, sport, and capital works during his tenure, he retains a strong interest in the growing challenges and future of Melbourne and presented some suggestions for the city moving forward.

His five wishes included: a new parliament house, a new underground railway network, good “creative” design, better apartments, and a masterplan for Melbourne’s gardens.

Kennett said, “A defining issue [for Melbourne] is the quality of our gardens right around the city. They are assets that are very hard to repeat or to replicate.”

With the federal government recently announcing plans to increase tree canopy coverage in Australia’s cities, Kennett said, “[The federal environment minister Greg Hunt] can outline a plan and he might give some money, but I think he’s just making an observation. A lot of our trees are going to die in the next 20 to 30 years. How are we going to replace them? With what are we going to replace them? We have to have a masterplan for our gardens and priority attached to how we’re going to maintain them. The intrinsic value of what we have here is so important. Governments must play a role in all of this because unfortunately if they don’t, then of course decay sets in very quickly indeed.”

Daniel Bennett, The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ (AILA) National President, remains optimistic, and is looking forward to the opportunity to work with the federal government in shaping policy outcomes. He said, “There’s so many scales that this would apply. It’s understanding the levers the federal government want to use and how that can influence state policy, local policy, right down to the individual tree.”