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Melbourne Soars in City Reputation Index


Melbourne has emerged ahead of New York in a poll of the world's best cities. An honour also shared by Adelaide. It seems that Melbourne figures highly in several world surveys of liveability and reputation. 

The Victorian capital has risen from 28th place last year to round out the final 10 in the 2012 City Reputation Index, a survey of 18,500 people in G8 countries.


Sydney retained its third placing from last year's inaugural poll of 35,000 people in 15 countries. Sydney was listed behind only Vancouver and Vienna (also perennial performers in world city ranking surveys).

“There is definitely a bit of a halo around Australian cities,” said Oliver Freedman, of consultants AMR, which helped compile the results with The Reputation Institute, a global consulting firm. “In some ways we punch above our weight in some of these studies.”

Conducted online using representative national samples in April and May, this year's survey saw London slip from first place to 13th on the list of 100 cities and Geneva from second best to 18th. Personally I find it hard to fathom why a city can suddenly drop sharply in rankings without seemingly any major negative development.

The biggest upset was for New York: at 39th place it was outranked by Adelaide (35th), as well as Perth (33rd) and Brisbane (32nd). I love Aussie cities but find it hard to believe New York isn't near the top.

Unlike other polls, ranks or liveability listings, the reputation index measured perceptions – “trust, admiration and respect” – rather than "raw data" such as affordability, Mr Freedman said.

"[The survey of cities] is very much around the perceptions of the general consumer, whether they have visited or not," he said, adding that American cities might have suffered because of perceived difficulties with the US generally.

"Cities like Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane are only familiar to a smaller number [one in five respondents], but among that group they are really well liked."

Online respondents were asked to rank a random selection of "familiar" cities – excluding those in their home country – on aspects such as physical beauty, safety, business environment and financial stability.

Melbourne ranked well in terms of safety (fourth), progressive policies (sixth) and well-developed political and legal institutions (seventh). The safety one is interesting with presumably most major cities having challenges and issues with safety. Do people feel safe or is it about being relatively safe?

"There are a number of these studies around and we see that if you went back a number of years, often Sydney has generally led," Mr Freedman said of the two Australian cities. "But Melbourne has in some ways managed to capture the hearts of people across the world in a range of different dimensions."

It was also perceived to have more respected leaders than Sydney (fifth against 11th) and with more potential for future economic growth (third against fourth).

But it was seen to lag behind the NSW capital on transport infrastructure and public institutions – in fourth place compared with second for Sydney. Personally I'd perceive Sydney as having more transport issues compared to Melbourne (unless you're in Hoddle Street in the mornings).

The survey results follow a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on economic opportunity this week that listed Sydney's transport and infrastructure as among the worst of 27 world cities. It placed the city fourth-last on that measure for a final overall rank of 11th. So go figure.

According to the reputation index, Sydney's people were not as widely celebrated as its physical beauty – while it was listed as 11th for the latter, it came in at 21st place for having well-known artists, scientists, inventors, writers, athletes and politicians.

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Read more: The Age Article