Nov 17, 2014

G20 Figures Confirm Decline in Infrastructure Spending

National investment in infrastructure will collapse in the next few years despite Tony Abbott’s claimed interest in Nation Building, according to new Australian Government figures provided to the weekend’s G20 meeting.

In 2013-14, under Labor, Australia’s total public and private investment, including investment in roads, railway lines and other infrastructure, stood at 27.5 percent of gross domestic product.

But figures provided to the G20 by the Abbott Government show the figure will plunge to 23.75 per cent by 2018-19.

The figures come just days after the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released figures showing that between 2013-14 and 2017-18, commonwealth investment in rail will plunge by 80 per cent.

By 2017-18, commonwealth investment in public transport will fall to zero.

While Mr Abbott lectures the world on the worthy aim of lifting infrastructure investment to boost global economic growth, his Government has failed to invest, preferring to re-announce existing projects and pretend they are new, even those that have been under construction for years.

Even its so-called Asset Recycling Fund has no additional money, with its funding itself recycled from the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment Fund.

Funding for Mr Abbott’s few new projects comes from directly from cuts to rail and road funding included in the previous Labor Government Budget.

These cuts included public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, Adelaide’s Tonsley Park project and $500 million which was to be invested in Perth.

Following these decisions, the Victorian Government has redrawn the Melbourne Metro into a second-rate alternative which does not even pass through Melbourne CBD, while Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project has been abandoned by the Queensland Government.

Mr Abbott’s 2014-15 Budget also did not include one extra dollar for freight rail projects.

There were also cuts to roads including the M80 in Melbourne, the Midland Highway in Tasmania and to Managed Motorways projects in Victoria and South Australia.

The Managed Motorways projects were designed to use smart technology to make better use of existing roads and were strongly backed by Infrastructure Australia for their potential to boost economic productivity.

For example, the Government has cut $68.6 million in investment for smart technology on the Warrigal Road to Clyde Road section of Melbourne’s Monash Freeway, despite expert advice that every dollar invested would return $5.20 to the Victorian economy.

When Labor took office in 2007, Australia was 20th among OECD nations in terms of infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP.

When we left office, Australia was 1st.