Australia

Coalition would strengthen role of Infrastructure Australia

A COALITION Government would support Infrastructure Australia and reform and improve the delivery of infrastructure in Australia, according to a joint statement released last week by Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott and Leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss.

In the statement, the Coalition said that Australia needs a rational coherent plan for the delivery of the nation's long-term infrastructure needs.

"The Coalition will deliver policy that goes beyond short-term politics and will serve the interests of all Australians, especially future generations." 

"The current Government has spent $2.5 billion installing and removing combustible roof batts, $16 billion on overpriced school halls and is now spending more than $50 billion on Australia's largest ever infrastructure project [the National Broadband Network] without a cost-benefit study."

Throwing its support behind Infrastructure Australia, the Coalition said that in government, it would strengthen its role and create a more transparent, accountable and effective adviser on infrastructure projects.

Outlining its plans for reform and improvement of the delivery of infrastructure in Australia, the Coalition said that it would ensure that Infrastructure Australia has guaranteed ongoing funding.

Infrastructure Australia would be tasked with developing a 15 year infrastructure plan for Australia, revised every 5 years. It would also be required to clearly specify infrastructure priorities at the national and state levels, based on a rigorous and transparent assessment of competing infrastructure projects proposed by the states.

Sir Rod Eddington would be retained as the chairman of Infrastructure Australia and all Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects worth more than $100 million would have to undergo a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.

The Coalition would also require Infrastructure Australia to publish justifications for its project recommendations, including the net present value of each recommended project.

"Greater accountability and transparency will ensure that much-needed infrastructure projects are selected and delivered in a way that improves the living standards of all Australians."

Property development industry group, Urban Taskforce, welcomed the Coalition's commitment to Australia's infrastructure requirements.

The Taskforce's chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said he particularly welcomed the commitment for all Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects worth $100 million or more to undergo a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.

"The current system, where major projects can be funded without an independent cost-benefit analysis makes it easier for meritorious projects to be sidelined in favour of more politically attractive proposals."

The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) also welcomed the Coalition's plan, saying that a long-term vision backed by funding was essential to providing the infrastructure that Australia needs.

TTF Chief Executive John Lee said he was pleased with the Coalition's support of Infrastructure Australia.

"The critical role Infrastructure Australia plays in the planning and delivery of major projects must be maintained."

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