Cross-sector Synergy on Infrastructure Reform

Australia’s leading public and private sector experts agree on policies needed to ensure Australia’s infrastructure provision keeps pace with the needs of our growing economy and population, said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott.

Following similar findings in the BCA’s recent study, Pipeline or Pipe Dream? Securing Australia’s Investment Future, the report released today by the Infrastructure Finance Reform Working Group (IFRWG) recommends tapping new sources of infrastructure funding from public asset sales and user charges, and improving long term strategic planning to identify a pipeline of infrastructure projects for the private sector to deliver.

The IFRWG also reinforces the importance of strengthening the public private partnership model of infrastructure investment by better apportioning risks and reducing costs for bidders.

“The onus is now on governments, in partnership with the private sector, to explain to the community how these recommendations will help deliver the infrastructure needed to make our cities and towns more liveable and more productive into the future,” said Ms Westacott.

“We agree with the IFRWG’s assessment that the lack of access to available funding for future infrastructure projects is a central issue.

“If governments can resolve their part of funding public infrastructure projects, private investors will raise the capital needed and deliver the projects.”

Ms Westacott said governments could address funding challenges by releasing public capital unnecessarily tied up in public assets, by making greater use of direct charging for infrastructure use and by the Commonwealth and states agreeing to principles for infrastructure co-funding models.

“Better strategic, long-term planning and more effective infrastructure markets will help identify and deliver the infrastructure needs of our fast growing cities and regions, especially regional and remote areas that are experiencing rapid growth.

“It is important for governments to lead a discussion with the community about why these reforms are needed and to ensure infrastructure keeps pace with economic and population growth. If it doesn’t, all of us pay the price through congestion, poor service quality and low productivity.”

Ms Westacott commended the federal government for asking the IFRWG to advise on the issues covered in the report and publishing its findings in full. She urged all governments to respond quickly to the report’s recommendations.

“More broadly, we are keen to work with governments to remove other barriers to cost-effective and timely infrastructure, including skills shortages, inefficient approvals processes and workplace productivity.

“If we can reduce costs and become more efficient in delivering infrastructure projects, we’ll free up funds to use elsewhere in the economy.”