Property Australia

Budget boosts for CBDs

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal June 29, 2021

Golden tickets for public transport, Dine and Discover vouchers and a New Year’s party on Sydney’s Cahill Expressway are designed to entice people back to the CBD.


Three key takeaways

  • A 12.5% increase in foot traffic in Queens Street Mall and surrounding areas, thanks to Brisbane’s Fridays in the City campaign, shows why reactivation really works
  • $100 vouchers will be available to 500,000 Sydney office workers to use exclusively on Fridays in the 2000 postcode, alongside other incentives
  • The South Australian budget includes $800,000 for reactivation efforts, and will support the Property Council’s FOMO Fridays.


State governments are backing the future of their CBDs with budget allocations to support reactivation efforts and entice workers back to the heart of the city.

The NSW Government is splashing an extra $50 million to expand its Dine and Discover voucher program. Vouchers worth $100 will be available to 500,000 office workers to use exclusively on Fridays in the 2000 postcode. The initiative, dubbed Thank God It’s Friday, was a key plank of the Property Council’s COVID recovery plan and is expected to kick off before summer.

The Sydney CBD is the economic heart of the nation. About seven per cent of the country’s GDP is generated in our CBD. Sydney getting its groove back is integral to the economic health of the nation,” says the Property Council’s acting NSW executive director, Lauren Conceicao.

Road traffic along the Cahill Expressway will make way for foot traffic for a week-long party over the summer. From New Year’s Eve to 6 January 2022 the Expressway will “turn an eyesore into a welcome mat for families, fun and a bit of frivolity,” Conceicao says. Expect markets, performances and big screens during the day, and headline acts and pop-up food and bar experiences into the night.

The South Australian budget includes $800,000 to reactivate Adelaide’s CBD. This supports the Property Council’s FOMO Fridays campaign, which is pitching incentives from free coffees to cheap carparking, concerts in Rundle Mall to early knock-off drinks.

“While flexibility is here to stay, we need to bring people and life back into the Adelaide CBD to help save businesses and jobs,” says Property Council executive director Daniel Gannon says. “This is why we applaud and welcome this financial commitment from the state government.”

Brisbane’s Fridays in the City campaign, led by the Property Council and Brisbane City Council, has drawn to a close after six weeks of innovative activations. Wintergarden gift vouchers, $2 cheeseburgers, giant Jenga sets in office lobbies and Pokémon GO treasure hunts were all part of the reactivation experience.

The result? A 12.5 per cent increase in pedestrian activity in the Queen Street Mall and surrounding areas, according to Brisbane City Council, when compared to the 2021 Friday average.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government has extended its Golden Go Card lottery, with six lucky Brisbane commuters winning free public transport for a year in what the Property Council’s executive director Jen Williams dubs a “Willy Wonka-style” competition.

The giveaway was scheduled to run over June to support Fridays in the City, but more than 33,500 entries prompted a two-week extension. Mark Bailey, Queensland transport and main roads minister, says the Gold Card Promotion is “part of a wider push to get more workers back into the CBD and supporting small businesses in SEQ city centres”.

In March, the Property Council and EY launched a ‘playbook’ for CBD revival. Reimagining our economic powerhouses provides a range of solutions to transform CBDs into central experience districts. Ideas included show-stopping store fronts, pop-ups that make the most of vacant space, big name chefs, live music and growers' markers that create ‘honey traps’.