Business today called for an urgent national approach to Australia’s infrastructure problems, warning the problem was the single, biggest barrier to the nation’s future prosperity.
BCA President Hugh Morgan said Australia’s infrastructure problems were endemic, not only with export bottlenecks at our ports, but in water, energy and road and rail transport systems throughout the country.
“We clearly need a new approach,” Mr Morgan said. “Australia as a whole has no plan and no coordinated policy to make sure the country’s infrastructure keeps pace with the economy and meets our higher standards of living.
“The result is a system in widespread disrepair. No-one else can resolve these strategic and policy issues but government. It is governments’ job to get resolution and direction without delay.
“Commonwealth, state and local governments need to act to fix existing problems with the nation’s infrastructure and develop new infrastructure to support future growth.”
The BCA’s initial estimates are that repairing and boosting our vital infrastructure could mean a $16 billion increase in Australia’s economic growth.
The BCA has released its Infrastructure Action Plan for Future Prosperity which calls on the federal and state governments to form a special federal–state body charged with responsibility for addressing the problem.
The plan calls for the Council of Australian Governments, or an alternative peak intergovernmental body, to:
- Draw up a national integrated infrastructure reform agenda covering urban and rural water, energy, road and rail transport, and urban growth.
- Set down specific roles and responsibilities between levels of government to reduce buck-passing on infrastructure problems and solutions.
- Agree on specific plans and timetables with firm targets for action, and robust mechanisms to prevent backsliding
- Publish an annual state of the nation infrastructure report encompassing all jurisdictions.
The BCA’s Infrastructure Action Plan is based on research it has commissioned from leading infrastructure analysts Port Jackson Partners Limited (PJPL). The PJPL report warns that most major urban centres in Australia faced significant water shortages in the medium term, that road congestion in cities will significantly worsen and energy supplies would fall short of growing demand without investment in new supplies.