Melbourne has retained its place as one of the world’s most liveable cities – but only just.
It was the only Australian capital to make the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2022 list, as other cities dropped out of the global top 10.
The survey, released on Thursday, has Melbourne at 10th (equal with Osaka) and leading the way for Australia.
European cities Vienna, Copenhagen and Zurich take out the top three spots.
Last year Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth were all in the top 10, but they have fallen to 27th, 30th and 32nd respectively. All three were among the top-10 highest falls in the 2022 study.
Commenting on Adelaide’s slide from third in 2021, South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas said it was equally surprising given the city’s summer spike in COVID cases, and the need for some restrictions to remain.
But he also expected Adelaide to bounce back in subsequent surveys.
“South Australians are very proud of the fact that we do live in one of the most liveable cities in the world and also one of the most liveable cities in the nation,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“The fact that it slipped back throughout 2021 is unfortunate, but I suspect it will creep back up the table again now that the worst of COVID, hopefully, has passed us by.”
The index cited a slow lifting of COVID-19 restrictions as the reason for those state capitals losing ground.
“Cities in New Zealand and Australia are listed among the biggest fallers in our rankings, including Wellington and Auckland, which tumbled by 46 and 33 places respectively,” the report said.
“Both countries benefited in early 2021, when COVID vaccines were scarce: Their closed borders kept cases down, keeping liveability high. Auckland actually came top of the early 2021 survey. However, this changed as a more infectious COVID-19 wave struck in late 2021, which made closed borders less of a defence.
“In Australia, some states were slower to lift restrictions than others. As a result, Perth and Adelaide have lost ground since last year, and Melbourne is once again Australia’s highest-ranked city. Adjusting policy dynamically will remain key to staying on top.”
Globally, the top 10 cities were among those with few COVID-19 restrictions, the report noted, with shops, schools and restaurants reopening, and pandemic-led hospitalisation declining.
“Cities that were towards the top of our rankings before the pandemic have rebounded on the back of their stability, good infrastructure and services, as well as enjoyable leisure activities,” it said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the ranking showed Melbourne was back on the world stage after years of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
“It’s hard to get a table at a restaurant, it’s hard to get a room in a hotel,” Mr Andrews said on Thursday.
“The city’s back. We are thriving and Victorians can be very proud of what they’ve achieved.”
Melbourne held the title of the world’s most liveable city for seven years from 2011, before it was unseated in 2018 by the Austrian capital, Vienna.
The state opposition said Melbourne’s result this year was nothing to write home about.
“Unsurprising after the world’s longest lockdowns … after the clobbering of small business and our CBD, we’re barely making it into the top 10,” Liberal MP Matt Bach said.
The 2022 list had Damascus, Lagos and Tripoli as the world’s three least liveable cities.
Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was excluded from the rankings because of the Russian invasion, while the conflict resulted in Moscow and St Petersburg dropping 13 and 15 places respectively.
Global liveability index 2022 – top 10
- Osaka and Melbourne
Global liveability index 2022 – bottom 10
- Port Moresby