Coalition infrastructure plans announced

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Warren Truss has announced the Coalition’s plan for Infrastructure Australia at the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Symposium in Sydney.

“A Coalition Government will insist on better value for taxpayer investment in infrastructure and take a flexible approach to leveraging private sector investment on a project-by-project basis,” said Truss. “The Coalition will reform Infrastructure Australia to enhance its capability as an independent, transparent and expert advisory body.

“Under a Coalition Government, Infrastructure Australia will be led by a Chief Executive Officer, responsible to the Infrastructure Australia Board. In line with other government boards, the new CEO position will be responsible for delivering the strategic objectives of Infrastructure Australia.

“Infrastructure Australia will be tasked with developing a 15-year pipeline of major infrastructure projects to be revised every five years based on national, state and local infrastructure priorities. That’s about better coordinating long-term projects, better planning and giving greater certainty to investors and the construction sector.

“A key plank of the Coalition’s approach is to maximise private sector investment in infrastructure. After meeting with a large number of private investors, superannuation funds, construction companies and many others with a direct interest in infrastructure, there is no ‘silver bullet’ to unlocking the kind of investment we need. It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach will not successfully bring more projects to market.”

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) broadly welcomed the announcement, saying it is time for Infrastructure Australia to enter a new phase to take on a stronger role in terms of assessing government spending. It should be the ‘productivity commission’ of infrastructure, according to the ALC.

“Enhancing the role of Infrastructure Australia is one of the key priorities identified by ALC in our 2013 Election Priorities document ‘Time to Deliver’ which was released today,” said ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff.

“ALC therefore welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to boost Infrastructure Australia, including its proposal to establish a dedicated unit within IA to evaluate finance options for nationally significant infrastructure projects and to investigate new funding models.

“ALC has called for Infrastructure Australia to be provided greater capacity to facilitate enhanced private sector investment in freight logistics infrastructure, and so the proposed establishment of the Funding and Finance Advisory Unit is a positive step forward. The fiscally challenging position Australia currently finds itself in underscores the importance of facilitating the uptake of more private sector investment in essential freight logistics infrastructure.

“The Labor Government has taken some important steps in this area, including changes to taxation treatment for projects on the Infrastructure Priority List, and ALC congratulates it on this reform.”

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