New South Wales now has a clear road map to guide investment in critical economic infrastructure following the release of the Infrastructure New South Wales report today, Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said.
Mr Shepherd welcomed the report, which has been based on a comprehensive assessment of the state’s needs, and which adds to the New South Wales Long-Term Transport Master Plan released last month.
“This is the sort of long-term approach to planning we have been looking for to provide a solid foundation for infrastructure decision-making in Australia,” Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd said.
“The report from Infrastructure New South Wales reveals the full extent of the infrastructure challenge facing Australia’s biggest state, and although the challenge is huge, it is a plan that is worth paying for.
“In today’s economy our energy, transport and water markets are increasingly national so it is imperative that our largest state is well served with modern infrastructure that will drive national productivity gains.
“With New South Wales making up one third of national economic activity there needs to be bipartisan support for delivering on this plan over the years ahead, including a commitment to undertaking the significant task of selling the benefits of the plan to the wider community.
“The New South Wales population is expected to grow to 9 million by 2050, including seven million in Sydney, and the INSW plan spells out the projects needed to meet the challenges of providing much needed investment in the state.
“The state government deserves credit for starting this process and also deserves support as it now moves forward to identify priority commitments for corridor and site reservation and project commencements that will get the state’s economy moving.
“The NSW Government is clearly going down the right path in preparing a comprehensive and integrated infrastructure plan for the next 20 years that can now provide the basis for engaging the community and business on how to deliver and pay for critical infrastructure.
“What is essential now is that the systems are put in place so that the plan can be rolled out as fiscal circumstances and private investment permits. This includes progressing planning approvals, corridor reservations and detailed feasibility work.
“The sound process behind this plan should give the government the evidence and arguments to explain to the community why these projects are so important.
“The Business Council believes it is essential that there be bipartisan support for the broad direction of the plan, including the significant task of prioritisation and funding of these critical projects.
“It is vital that such critical investments do not become the subject of partisan politics.”
Mr Shepherd said the plan makes absolutely clear the value of further privatisation of state assets in freeing up funds to fast-track the delivery of major infrastructure projects.
“The launch of the privatisation process for Port Botany and Port Kembla is a good start to raising funds for investment in infrastructure renewal. The government should give consideration to further sourcing new funds through the privatisation of government assets and the use of user pay approaches.
“It will be important that the new infrastructure is provided under procurement models that prioritise efficient project delivery, such as the PPP approach, to ensure scarce public funds can stretch across a wider portfolio of projects.”