Infrastructure Australia's annual report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has emphasised the urgent need to reform the financing of major infrastructure projects across Australia.
Releasing the report Communicating the Imperative for Action the Chairman of Infrastructure Australia, Sir Rod Eddington, said government reforms to infrastructure planning and delivery was frustratingly slow and this had resulted in a slowing of Australia's productivity.
“As the rate of productivity has slowed over the past decade (a point below the average of OECD nations) the need for policy reform has grown.
“Productivity has slowed as a direct result of infrastructure shortfalls—time lost in travel, delays at ports, lost production due to water restrictions,” Sir Rod said.
“Infrastructure that is properly planned and financed will improve productivity, economic development and help to preserve a sustainable future for all Australians.”
Infrastructure Australia has recently set up an Infrastructure Financing Working Group to identify new ways of financing infrastructure. The Group includes experts from the public and private sectors and will consider:
- Encouraging superannuation funds to invest in infrastructure by restructuring how projects are put to the market;
- Updating guidelines on public-private partnerships, particularly in the area of demand risk;
- Recycling of Government assets to fund investment in new infrastructure; and
- Finance models such as land value capture.
Sir Rod said that with the setting up of the Working Group, a key focus for Infrastructure Australia over the next four years was financing reform—developing practical ways to secure additional private funds for investment in infrastructure.
“Action is needed to reform the way Governments choose the right projects, finance those projects, and operate and maintain them.”
“Governments must also improve the planning of major infrastructure projects and foster use of the current networks more productively by demand management and pricing mechanisms.
“Currently the debate around infrastructure is about individual projects rather than policy development and systemic issues such as tax rates and charging, and levels of service.
“All governments need to communicate the imperative for action to their constituents and get on with the job,” Sir Rod said.
In the future, Infrastructure Australia will produce an expanded infrastructure pipeline emphasising projects that could be privately funded, and projects in regional Australia.
Infrastructure Australia is working with the new State Governments in NSW and Victoria regarding any changes to their State's infrastructure priorities.
Infrastructure Australia has also released the project assessments and working appraisals of cost benefit analyses, for Threshold and Ready to Proceed projects, prepared by the National Infrastructure Coordinator.
Infrastructure Australia's report Communicating the Imperative for Action can be found at www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.
Michael Deegan, National Infrastructure Coordinator
Ph: 02 8114 1900