Dec 23, 2014

Ministers embarrassed by lack of Infrastructure Australia CEO

Last week Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss and his assistant minister Jamie Briggs issued a media statement in which they claimed to have “appointed a new CEO’’ of Infrastructure Australia.

That was news to me and to those who follow the infrastructure debate.

A quick check suggests that if this is true, they have kept this appointment secret. There has been no such announcement.

It would not be surprising if these bumbling ministers had issued this media release with an untrue statement.

They have spent all of 2014 on a Magical Infrastructure Re-announcement Tour seeking credit for existing infrastructure projects funded by the former Labor Government to conceal their record of inaction.

Since Michael Deegan stepped aside in February, there has been no CEO running Infrastructure Australia.

The only activity of Infrastructure Australia has been to issue media releases by the acting CEO supporting the now-discredited East-West Link toll road project in Melbourne.

These media releases were not authorised by the Infrastructure Australia board.

The Ministers’ claim that they have appointed a CEO came in a confused media release issued on December 19 in which the ministers sought to reject criticism of their poor performance this year.

The ministers produced a 2014 infrastructure Budget which cut funding from road and rail projects approved by Infrastructure Australia in order to fund road projects with no business case.

In our first year in office, the former Labor Government hit the ground running on nation  building, creating Infrastructure Australia, establishing an advisory council and staff, producing a full infrastructure audit and priority list and national public private partnership guidelines.

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.