One year on, our 'infrastructure Prime Minister' is still poised with a shovel

By Peter van Duyn

Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs recently said the government was investing “a record $50 billion in world class infrastructure that will leverage over $125bn of public and private investment in infrastructure over the next decade”.

In the Coalition’s September 2013 policy to “Deliver the Infrastructure for the 21st Century”, the government promised vital infrastructure projects would be underway across the country within 12 months.

In its pre-election infrastructure policy document the government also promised to deliver an “Annual Parliamentary Statement on Infrastructure Delivery” to the House of Representatives.

According to Trade Minister Andrew Robb after a recent visit to New York, international funds management groups with trillions of dollars under management are “enormously excited” about investing in Australian infrastructure.

A recent report published by the Australian Logistics Council indicated a 1 per cent increase in logistics efficiency, which could be achieved by increased spending on road and rail infrastructure, would boost GDP by $2 billion.

The same document promised all Commonwealth infrastructure spending exceeding $100 million would be subject to analysis by Infrastructure Australia "to test cost-effectiveness and financial viability" – analysis that would be made public.

At this stage we may be able to give the government a “borderline pass” on its infrastructure report card.

This additional capital is mainly available for road projects with spending on rail infrastructure a poor second, and spending on public transport not even on the government’s agenda.

On the promise to provide a cost benefit analysis for projects over $100 million the government has recorded a “fail” as these analyses are generally being hidden under the veil of “commercial in confidence”.

When Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came into office last year his aim was to be remembered as the “infrastructure Prime Minister”.

One promise the government has delivered on is the changing of the guard at Infrastructure Australia, with the appointment of a new CEO and board which have responsibility for delivering the strategic objectives of the agency.

Read more here: Business Spectator


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