Infrastructure is crucial to securing our standard of living in the future. More infrastructure investment will improve our economic and social wellbeing
Targeted infrastructure keeps us out of traffic jams, ensures we are better connected, allows us to be healthier and raises our education levels and it makes our cities more productive. It also helps create a strong building industry and a strong economy, creating job and training opportunities for more Australians.
What are the problems?
Our infrastructure challenges will become more complex in the future; our population is expected to grow by more than a third in the next 20 years.
We need to tackle transport bottlenecks, improve public transport in capital cities and regional areas, and build more hospitals, schools, aged care centres and other community facilities closer to where we live.
In regional and remote communities, infrastructure is especially important. In many instances, the origins of small communities and towns are linked to infrastructure proximity and their future often depends upon infrastructure being maintained and improved.
Australia’s infrastructure challenge requires an investment of around $30 billion annually by 2020 according to Infrastructure Australia. Separately, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia estimates it could cost as much as $770 billion just to deal with existing infrastructure gaps.
The next Federal Government must continue to develop new and innovative ways for public and private sector investment to occur for funding key economic and social infrastructure.
Infrastructure funding proposals must be streamlined as more investment in infrastructure will improve Australia's quality of life and create jobs.
How can we fix them?
- Increased public and private sector investment in infrastructure, with a target of 6 per cent of GDP.
- Expanding the use of privatisation models. Revenue from the sale of existing infrastructure assets should be used to fund the development of new infrastructure.
- Developing and marketing tradeable public infrastructure bonds on terms of trade and conditions which appeal to a broad spectrum on investors.
- Redirection of government outlays away from recurrent and less productive spending, toward investment in efficiency and competitiveness-enhancing infrastructure.
- Better policy co-ordination among the levels of government. The next Federal Government should lead the Council of Australian Governments to develop an integrated plan to address Australia’s economic and social infrastructure needs.
- Minimising bid-costs for infrastructure supply and financing to ensure the broadest possible range of engagement by potential investors. Tendering processes for smaller investors should be simplified.
- Reducing the political risk associated with investment in infrastructure. This would involve focusing on ‘stop-start’ government decision-making, and the tendency for constant changing of processes, rules and other key elements of a project once underway.