Nation Building, Infrastructure & Roads Policy Round-Up
Setting the Scene
Providing the infrastructure necessary to connect with and drive our economy is crucial to increasing productivity, enhancing efficiencies and making Australia a better place to live. Following years of underfunding and the absence of a robust national infrastructure strategy, whoever wins government on September 7 will have a large task ahead of them.
The politics of funding infrastructure has long been played out as a bidding war between the major parties, with the focus on funding projects that impact on marginal electorates. In the 2013-14 federal budget, the Labor Government set aside $463.9 million for “decisions taken not yet announced”. Expect to see some of this budget line announced in the form of infrastructure projects in electorates Labor needs to win or hold. At the state level, systematic underfunding over a long period of time has led to an infrastructure deficit estimated at up to $700 billion across the nation*.
If elected, the Coalition has committed to ensuring that infrastructure funding at the national level is properly assessed, meaning that funded projects are those which deliver the greatest benefits to the economy. To do this, the Coalition will instruct Infrastructure Australia to develop a 15-year pipeline of major infrastructure projects, which will be reviewed at 5 year intervals, based on national, state and local infrastructure priorities. The Coalition has also committed to subjecting all projects worth more than $100 million to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, to ensure better value for taxpayer investment.
In line with the principles above and work already done by Infrastructure Australia, the Coalition has already announced the following commitments:
- $6.7 billion commitment to repair the Bruce Highway, involving 70 projects along its length and an 80-20 funding deal with the Queensland Government, bringing the total to $8.5 billion.
- Building the missing F3 to M2 link between the southern end of the F3 at Wahroonga and the M2 Motorway at Pennant Hills Road. This work will start by the end of 2014 and be funded in conjunction with the NSW Government and the private sector.
- $1.5 billion to start the WestConnex project in Sydney.
- $2.1 billion towards the completion of the duplication of the Pacific Highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border.
- $500 million to upgrade the North-South road corridor in Adelaide.
- $1 billion to support the Gateway project in Brisbane.
- $400 million to duplicate the Midland Highway in Tasmania.
- $25 million over five years to upgrade the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
- $1.5 billion for Melbourne’s East West Link.
- $1 billion over five years to develop regional areas as part of the National Stronger Regions Fund.
A flagship proposal of the Coalition’s nation-building policies is the 2030 Vision for Developing Northern Australia. This policy aims to develop Northern Australia (defined as north of the Tropic of Capricorn) as a growth centre for the Australian economy in the coming decades. At the core of this plan is a commitment to break the ‘development deadlock’ of green and red tape, which has prevented the building of major water and road infrastructure in the north. Further initiatives include the establishment of a Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia and the relocation of relevant federal agencies (such as CSIRO and AQIS) to northern urban centres.
For further information on the Coalition’s Plan for Infrastructure Australia, click here.
To read the Coalition’s 2030 Vision for developing Northern Australia, click here.
To read the Coalition’s Policy to Upgrade the Great Ocean Road, click here.
To read more about the Coalition’s National Stronger Regions Fund, click here.
The Leader of the Nationals and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Warren Truss, recently delivered the State of the Nation 2013 Address on infrastructure and its role in driving productivity for the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. Mr Truss’ speech can be downloaded here.
For further information, please contact CapitalHill Advisory on (02) 6198 3210 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Institute of Chartered Accountants, 2013, viewed 28 August 2013, <http://www.charteredaccountants.com.au/futureinc/Business-Plan/Weaknesses/Infrastructure-deficit>