Melbourne is the only Australian city to make the top 10 in the latest Global Liveability Index – but it could easily have missed out.
According to the latest index, released on Thursday by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vienna is the most liveable city in the world when factors such as stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure are considered. It is a position the Austrian capital has held numerous times.
In 2021, Queensland’s performance in managing COVID-19 saw Brisbane scrape into 10th place, just behind Melbourne (equal eighth with Singapore), which received a better rating than the Queensland capital for infrastructure but was marked down for healthcare.
While Sydney failed to make the top 10 in 2021, Adelaide leapt to third spot. The New Zealand cities of Auckland (first) and Wellington (fourth) also did well because they had been spared the worst of COVID-19.
But this year, foreign cities have a better grip on the pandemic, and Australia’s best performer on the index is Melbourne, which has ranked equal 10th with Osaka in Japan. Again, a better infrastructure rating helped elevate the Victorian capital, whereas Osaka was considered superior in healthcare.
Brisbane’s time in the sun was brief, with the 2032 Olympic host city slipping to 27th place, passing Sydney (13th) on the way. Adelaide, meanwhile, went from third to 30th place.
The New Zealand cities fell the furthest, with Auckland now ranked 34th and Wellington 50th – below Perth, which is 32nd.
The top Australian cities ranked the same in stability, healthcare, and education, with only culture and environment separating Melbourne (98.6 out of 100) and Sydney (97.2).
Melbourne and Sydney scored 100 out of 100 for infrastructure, as did Perth, whereas Brisbane managed only 85.7. Even Adelaide scored higher on infrastructure (96.4), but Brisbane ranked higher than the South Australian capital overall due to its better culture and environment (96.3 compared to 83.8).
“Australian cities, which traditionally fare well in the liveability rankings, have seen unusual amounts of volatility,” said Upasana Dutt, from the EIU.
“By keeping international borders closed in early 2021, the country had witnessed much lower caseloads and fatality rates. But its healthcare infrastructure has come under pressure more recently. Owing to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the first quarter of 2022, these cities have seen their healthcare system suffer as compared to a year ago.”
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the index was flawed.
“To rank Melbourne as Australia’s most liveable city is ridiculous, when so many Melbourne residents are leaving to come and live in Brisbane,” he said.
“Melbourne has sadly become Australia’s most leave-able city and they are choosing Brisbane instead.”
Overseas, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a deterioration in stability scores – Kyiv was removed from consideration altogether – while living conditions remain worst in Damascus, the capital of Syria.
“Our biggest concern now is the impact that the cost-of-living crisis, including the soaring prices of energy and food, will have on liveability, particularly on stability scores around the world,” Dutt said.
Western Europe was the best-performing region, followed by North America, then Asia and Australasia.