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Brisbane’s top 10 ranking on a key global index came as Australia stood out because its borders could be closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index last year ranked Brisbane at 10, after the city previously languished in the high teens, behind other state capitals.
While Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner suggested the city should have been higher, Sydney was grappling with the fact the Harbour City and gateway to Australia had fallen out of the top 10.
EIU economics team lead Rishabh Upadhyay told Brisbane Times that cities around the world generally experienced a downturn in liveability during the pandemic.
“With regards to Brisbane, for the first time it featured in the top 10 most liveable cities, claiming the 10th position from its previous position of 18th in the pre-pandemic times,” Mr Upadhyay said.
“This primarily pertains to the fact that Australia could close their borders rapidly, controlling the spread of the disease, which meant that four of the top 10 liveable cities belonged to Australia.
“Most of the improvements for these cities in rankings were at the expense of other European and Canadian cities, which usually ranked high in pre-pandemic times, as these cities were facing another wave of the pandemic, thereby causing stress on healthcare resources, closure of schools and restriction in social, cultural and recreational activities.”
Brisbane’s liveability score was only down 3.6 percentage points due to the pandemic. However, the rankings could change this year, after Queensland lifted restrictions on interstate travel and opted for a less conservative public health strategy.
What weighed down Brisbane more last year was its long-time poor performance in areas such as infrastructure, culture and the environment.
Governments hope to address some of those shortcomings through the south-east Queensland City Deal announced this week.
The 2022 index will be released in June. It will also be the first since Brisbane was named the host of the 2032 Olympics (previous host Tokyo ranked fifth last year).
Mercer has traditionally released an annual Quality of Living Ranking, which in 2021 ranked Brisbane 35th, behind Canberra (30th), Adelaide (29th), Perth (21st), Melbourne (17th) and Sydney (11th), and with Vienna in top place.
The war in Ukraine will likely see its 2022 update shelved.