Dec 7, 2010

Labor’s Nation Building Agenda Enters its Second Term – Opinion – Australian National Construction Review

Just a few months ago Australians voted in what turned out be an historic general election, one from which no political party emerged with an absolute majority in the House of Representatives.

It was also an election in which debates about the nation’s infrastructure needs featured prominently and voters were given a clear choice: continued record investment in the nation’s social and economic infrastructure with Labor or cuts and the shelving of projects with the conservatives.

As it turned out, the majority of Australians and almost all the independents chose the former.

The Gillard Labor Government is more determined than ever to put right the neglect and policy drift we inherited, building on the strong foundations and long term reforms put in place during our first term.

Indeed, since coming to office we’ve overhauled the way our nation plans, finances and builds the infrastructure it needs, most notably by establishing Infrastructure Australia to rigorously evaluate and objectively prioritise major new project proposals.

Together with these sweeping institutional and regulatory reforms, we’ve also lifted public infrastructure spending by almost a third.

In addition to initiating the largest school modernisation program and beginning the roll out of high speed broadband to the nation’s homes and workplaces, we’ve more than doubled the roads budget, increased rail spending tenfold and made the first significant Federal investment in urban passenger rail.

All up, we’re spending $37 billion over six years to modernise and expand the nation’s transport infrastructure.

Over time this investment program will make our economy more productive, our regions more prosperous and our cities more sustainable, while in the short term creating new commercial opportunities for local builders, engineers, architects, construction companies and suppliers.

As well as responding to Australia’s immediate infrastructure needs, we’re also planning for the nation’s future.

In coming months, Infrastructure Australia will release the first ever national port strategy and national freight strategy – two long term blueprints which together with the National Priority List will guide future investment in our vital transport infrastructure.

While our progress has been substantial, we’ve always said it would take more than one parliamentary term to put right a decade of neglect and require both sustained levels of investment as well as proper long term planning.

The Gillard Labor Government will continue to do both and move our nation forward.