Infrastructure needs to reform says new report
The industry association for consulting firms in the built environment, Consult Australia, has welcomed the report ‘Making reform happen’ that was published recently by Infrastructure Australia. The report says with new economic modelling that demonstrates incentive payments to progress national-shaping infrastructure reforms could boost the economy.
Megan Motto, chief executive of Consult Australia, which represents an industry comprising some 48,900 firms across Australia, says: “This report shifts the infrastructure narrative from projects we can or cannot afford, to reform we simply cannot ignore.
“There is no doubt that infrastructure reform is the key to Australia’s lagging productivity. Reform in this area gives us a double whammy – not only does efficient infrastructure deliver long-term productivity dividends, it also boost real jobs in the short and medium term.
“But the government should be a more active participant to drive the changes we need as a nation. The Prime Minister has espoused that the government should be more than an ATM on projects, but similarly it needs to use its financial levers to drive system and program reform, as well as projects,” Motto says.
“Road-user charging is one such example. For too long this has been placed in the ‘too hard’ basket, while commuters suffer the consequences in rush-hour traffic. If the reform in this report was implemented, it could see travel times cut on congested roads at peak hour by up to a third. The pay-off here can’t be ignored at an estimated $66 billion increase in GDP.”
Infrastructure Australia has provided a useful framework for considering how the Commonwealth can leverage financial incentives to drive better policy, as well as potentially more consistency and collaboration between jurisdictions.
The report identifies ways to make reform happen, including exempting reforms from GST calculations and leveraging Government’s spending power with states and territories. Alongside road-user charging, further reforms include the urban water sector, electricity market, land tax and franchising public transport services.
Motto says, “As a nation Australia has to decide what kind of economy it wants – one of high productivity that efficiently connects people to places and products to markets, or one that remains stuck in the past while people remain stuck in traffic.
“Consult Australia welcomes this report and urges the Government to consider and act upon its recommendations,” she concludes.