Warning – failure to pursue infrastructure reforms bad for next gen

Infrastructure Australia released its National Infrastructure Plan this week, the organisation’s latest report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).IA

The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Infrastructure Australia’s fifth annual report to the COAG sets out the pipeline of projects and policy reforms it believes will secure Australia’s prosperity in the 21st Century.

“This report marks the first five years of Infrastructure Australia and acknowledges the improvements to infrastructure planning and development that have occurred,” he said.

“The report also updates the National Infrastructure Priority List of projects which have been rigorously assessed and found to offer the highest economic, social and environmental returns.”

In launching the Plan, Chairman, Sir Rod Eddington AO, said “our aim in preparing this Plan has been to provide governments and the community with a clear set of actions to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the growth of the Asian economies over the next half century.”

The actions include:

  1. Establishing a single national infrastructure fund;
  2. Moving from grant funding of infrastructure to a system that encourages private investment;
  3. Selling or long-term leasing of government infrastructure assets and re-investing the proceeds in new infrastructure;
  4. Wider application of user pays funding arrangements, especially but not only in the freight sector, but on the proviso that users get a say in scoping new projects; and
  5. Improvements to project governance and procurement to reduce the cost of developing new infrastructure.

He said if adopted and pursued with vigour, these reforms will ensure that Australia secures the infrastructure it needs.

“There are challenges in pursuing these reforms. The community is wary of change. Too often, governments have been reluctant to make the case for such change,” Sir Eddington said.

“Failure to pursue these reforms will leave a poor legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

The Plan includes the latest update of Infrastructure Australias Infrastructure Priority List.

“Although the projects are important and they capture the attention of the media and other players, it is our ability to implement much needed infrastructure reforms that will determine whether we succeed in capitalising on the opportunities before us,” he said.

Mr Albanese said as a result of this year’s Budget, all ‘ready to proceed’ projects identified by Infrastructure Australia since its establishment in 2008 have received Federal funding commitments.

“This year a record 79 project proposals were submitted for assessment and the number of projects added to the priority list more than doubled,” he said.

“Federal Labor recognises the importance of getting the investment decisions right which is why we established Infrastructure Australia and continue to deliver reforms that complement our $60 billion Nation Building Program.

“I congratulate Sir Rod Eddington, his fellow Council members and the staff of Infrastructure Australia on continuing to drive lasting reforms to the way our nation plans, finances, builds and uses the infrastructure which makes people’s lives easier, our businesses more competitive and the Australian economy more productive,” Mr Albanese added.

He said the 2013 report – National Infrastructure Plan exemplifies the important role that Infrastructure Australia continues to perform, providing leadership in developing a long-term, evidence-based approach to infrastructure reforms and investment.

For this year’s full report to COAG, go to: www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.

 

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