State Dumps Consortium Behind $30bn ‘Smart City’ Proposal

The consortium behind plans for a $30 billion hi-tech smart city has been given the flick, as the Victorian government confirmed it will not progress with plans for its development in Melbourne’s west.

In a statement, Minister for Priority Precincts Gavin Jennings said government had decided to “conclude the expression of interest process for the sale for land” in East Werribee.

“Following careful examination, the Australian Education City proposal for the East Werribee Employment Precinct will not proceed,” Jennings said.

The Australian Education City consortium had been selected as the preferred bidder back in November 2015 on the project that had since stalled.

Plans included the transformation of 412-hectares of state-owned land into an education city designed to house 70,000 residents.

“The government thanks the Australian Education City group, including local and international partners, for its time and involvement in the project and process,” Jennings said.

Australian Education City AEC. East Werribee
▲ AEC's concept was designed to house 70,000 residents and attract 45,000 local and international students in Werribee.

The new hi-tech precinct, which had been described as a “Silicon Valley of Melbourne”, aimed to combine industry and universities 32-kilometres south-west of Melbourne's CBD, and create a “gateway between the West and China” through its education city.

AEC had outbid three of Australia's largest property development companies for the rights to develop the Werribee site.

AEC is governed by a board of directors, including executive chairman Bill Zheng, executive director Ross Martiensen and chief executive John Tabart.

AEC’s Zheng had described the opportunity to build the first purposely built international collaborative campus as a “blank piece of paper” that would become a “showcase for Australian education”.

AEC consortium, backed by the Investors Direct Financial Group, had listed its project partners on its website as including PwC, engineering giant Jacobs, IBM, Honeywell, Cisco and Urbis.

AEC Australian Education City
The Victorian government will no longer proceed with plans for the $30bn city planned in Melbourne's west.

While the state government said it acknowledged the importance of strengthening ties between universities and industry in Melbourne's west, it did not mention new plans for the precinct.

Victoria attracts more than 175,000 international students a year from more than 160 countries.

The minister reiterated state government's investment in the East Werribee precinct with the $95 million St Vincent’s Private Hospital development, and the $85 million expansion of the Werribee Mercy Hospital.

The AEC were contacted for comment.

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