Feb 19, 2007

Labor’s long-standing infrastructure policy – good for the economy & business



Anthony Albanese – Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water

Manager of Opposition Business

Bob McMullan

Shadow Minister for Federal/State Relations

Shadow Minister for International Development Assistance

19 February 2007

Leading business groups are right to demand Commonwealth Government leadership in the coordination and development of infrastructure projects in Australia.

Business has warned of a backlog of infrastructure projects and queried the commitment of the federal government to infrastructure provision in key areas.

To avoid bottlenecks and associated loss of productivity, business groups have called for the appointment of a Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure.

The Business Council of Australia estimates Australia has a $90 billion shortfall in infrastructure, and that infrastructure reform would boost Australia’s GDP by around $20 billion.

Under John Howard, Australia is now ranked 20th out of 25 OECD countries for its public investment in infrastructure as a proportion of GDP.

In November 2005, Federal Labor committed to establishing Infrastructure Australia, a Commonwealth Statutory Authority to coordinate the planning, regulation and development of infrastructure.

Infrastructure Australia will report directly to State and Commonwealth Infrastructure Ministers through COAG.

Labor’s policy ensures a coordinated and objective approach to long term planning and investment of nationally significant infrastructure.

Labor believes that investment in infrastructure can increase GDP, business investment, housing investment, exports, and living standards.

It is good to see industry groups such as the Australian Industry Group coming on board with Labor’s policy in this area. Labor joins them in urging the Howard Government to get its Federal/State relations in order.

Ending the blame game is a priority for Labor, and we must improve Federal/State relations and stop blame-shifting over infrastructure. Labor’s commitment is reflected by the Labor Leader’s appointment of Shadow Ministers for both Federal/State Relations and Infrastructure.

Infrastructure spending decisions must put the national interest first and provide business and the community with long-term certainty, but Howard Government infrastructure spending is driven by short term political interests.

A Rudd Labor Government will provide national leadership and investment in nation building projects that sustain productivity growth and prosperity.