Lord Mayor Sally Capp says COVID pandemic good for Melbourne

Her talk is part of TEDxMelbourne’s Kintsugi: From Broken to Beautiful series. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer or powdered gold, silver or platinum.

Capp will say she is not “donning rose-tinted glasses” in recalling the pandemic but that, in the midst of chaos, there is opportunity.

“Melbourne has emerged bruised, but bolder and braver because of it all,” she will say.

Capp will point to the way government agencies, community housing associations and hotel operators worked together to house 2000 people in central hotels.

“It changed lives. I recently received an email from a gentleman who lived in a local hotel over lockdowns. Despite experiencing homelessness for some years, this hotel stay was the circuit breaker he needed to turn his life around. He now has a job and secure housing.”


Capp will also highlight the City of Melbourne’s business concierge service that was introduced during the pandemic and outdoor dining parklets.

“The parklets are now a permanent positive feature of Melbourne,” she will say. “You could say the parklets are golden fissures making Melbourne’s famed dining scene better than it ever was.”

Capp will say that the roar of a record Grand Final crowd, queues for coffee and sold-out tickets for the Rone exhibition and musical Hamilton are all signs Melbourne’s wounds are healing.

“There is a lingering acknowledgment, thanks to COVID, that tomorrow is never guaranteed,” she will say. “And we won’t take any of the ‘only in the city’ experiences for granted again.”

Capp will say projects such as her plans for a Greenline along the Yarra and Power Melbourne, an independent network of mid-scale batteries, are big ideas that have been accelerated by the pandemic.

While gross local product plummeted during lockdowns, Capp will say it has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels and is expected to hit $150 billion by 2031.

“Now that’s what I call lockdown to boomtown,” she will say. “It’s thanks to the debilitating impacts of COVID, the 262 days as a broken city and community, that we have achieved the seemingly impossible, pirouetted, taken risks, dreamed big and accelerated progress.”

Capp will argue adversity has strengthened Melbourne.

“It’s not just despite the hardship and devastation of the pandemic, but because of the hardship and devastation of the pandemic, that our community imagined and accelerates Melbourne as a bolder, braver, better place.”

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.