Statement on the release of Infrastructure Australia plan

“The release of Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) first 15-year plan provides a clear direction for improving infrastructure provision in our growing cities and regions,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Australia’s infrastructure challenges are well known to all - rising congestion, high infrastructure costs and poor quality infrastructure services. IA’s plan to meet these challenges is a blueprint that all governments, working together, can support and implement,” Ms Westacott said.

“The plan shows the value of Infrastructure Australia as an independent adviser and the important contribution it makes to the national infrastructure debate. IA estimates that implementing its plan would make the average household $3000 better off by 2040.

“The Business Council strongly endorses IA’s advice to put greater effort and resources into improving infrastructure planning and business case development, as well as the advice to reserve corridors for future infrastructure projects. This needs to happen in consultation with the community.

“IA has proposed a number of important infrastructure regulation, planning and funding reforms that need to be prioritised, no matter how challenging.

“The Business Council would add two more important reform initiatives to reduce the costs of delivering major infrastructure projects – streamlining major project planning approvals and reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission to preserve industrial harmony.

“IA’s proposals to develop a set of national governance principles, impose project-specific conditions and offer infrastructure reform payments will create a solid basis for negotiations with the states and territories. The reform payments proposal should be progressed quickly by COAG.

“In totality these reforms can transform the infrastructure system towards a more efficient, market based structure, with significant benefits for users and lifting productivity.

“There should continue to be an expectation that states and territories will make every effort to source funding from user charges, value capture and capital tied up in existing infrastructure before seeking federal taxpayer funds.

“Privatisation of existing infrastructure assets and recycling of capital not only reduces the pressure on budgets, it leads to more efficient management of assets and puts downward pressure on prices for users.

“At a time when Australia needs faster growth to repair government budgets, remain competitive in a changing world and to maintain living standards, planned delivery of productivity-enhancing infrastructure must remain an absolute priority,” she said.