INFRASTRUCTURE investment will play a key role in harnessing the opportunities and addressing the challenges of the Asian century, according to Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.
Infrastructure forms a core pillar of the plan for boosting productivity growth and incomes contained in the Federal Government's recently released 'Australia in the Asian Century White Paper'.
The White Paper is a roadmap that aims to guide Australia to become a more prosperous and resilient nation, fully part of the region and open to the world.
According to the Minister, the White Paper reinforces the importance of a national framework for developing, financing and maintaining nationally significant infrastructure to assist governments and the private sector to plan and prioritise infrastructure needs at least 20 years ahead.
The White Paper emphasises that well-planned and prioritised infrastructure investment will support Australia's growing trade and investment with the region as well as improving productivity and the efficient movement of goods and people—both domestically and internationally.
Mr Albanese said the government has paved the way in positioning Australia's infrastructure to meet the challenges ahead through a comprehensive reform and investment agenda.
"We have doubled annual infrastructure spending from $141 to $269 per Australian, with large scale road, rail and public transport projects expected to generate long term economic, social and environmental benefits far exceeding what they cost to build," the Minister said.
"Through the establishment of Infrastructure Australia, we have overhauled the way our nation plans, prioritises, finances, builds and uses infrastructure.
"We have boosted the economy through our $36 billion Nation Building Program and encouraged the use of technology to enhance the productivity of our roads through our Smart Motorways projects," the Minister said.
Mr Albanese also said the Interstate Rail Network is carrying more freight than ever before and that shipping reforms, which commenced in July this year, have begun to harness trade opportunities in the Asian region.
"In the competitive, globalised world of the 21st century, infrastructure matters. Our record investment combined with the national leadership we've taken to planning and prioritising Australia's infrastructure needs means we are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Asian century," the Minister said.
More information on the White Paper, Australia in the Asian Century, is available from <http://asiancentury.dpmc.gov.au/>.