Infrastructure investment will play a key role in harnessing the opportunities and addressing the challenges of the Asian century.
Infrastructure is a core pillar of the plan for boosting productivity growth and incomes contained in the Gillard Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
Today’s White Paper reinforces the importance of a national framework for developing, financing and maintaining nationally significant infrastructure. This will assist governments and the private sector to plan and prioritise infrastructure needs at least 20 years ahead.
The White Paper emphasises that well-planned and prioritised infrastructure investment will support Australia’s growing trade and investment with the region as well as improving productivity and the efficient movement of goods and people—both domestically and internationally.
Better infrastructure will reduce future congestion costs by billions of dollars a year.
The Government has paved the way in positioning Australia’s infrastructure to meet the challenges ahead through a comprehensive reform and investment agenda.
We have doubled annual infrastructure spending from $141 to $269 per Australian, with large scale road, rail and public transport projects expected to generate long term economic, social and environmental benefits far exceeding what they cost to build.
Through the establishment of Infrastructure Australia, we have overhauled the way our nation plans, prioritises, finances, builds and uses infrastructure.
We have boosted the economy through our $36 billion Nation Building Program and encouraged the use of technology to enhance the productivity of our roads through our Smart Motorways projects.
The Interstate Rail Network is carrying more freight than ever before and at much faster speeds with average transit times between Brisbane and Melbourne, for example, now seven hours shorter than they were in 2005.
After more than a century of failed attempts, Australia is now only months away from new national regulators in heavy vehicle, maritime and rail safety which will deliver more than $30 billion in national productivity benefits over the next 20 years.
Our landmark shipping reforms which commenced on 1 July this year have already begun to harness the trade opportunities in the Asian region. The combination of a zero tax rate and internationally competitive employment conditions will help to revive Australia’s involvement in international shipping.
In the competitive, globalised world of the 21st century, infrastructure matters. Our record investment combined with the national leadership we’ve taken to planning and prioritising Australia’s infrastructure needs means we are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Asian century.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.