New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today have confirmed that infrastructure investment has collapsed by 20 per cent under the Coalition Government.
The figures underline why Malcolm Turnbull plans to cut the infrastructure budget even further to fund an $18 million advertising campaign to convince people this reduction in investment in not happening.
Today’s ABS figures show the value of engineering construction work completed for the public sector fell by 20.15 per cent between the September quarter of 2013 and the September quarter of 2015.
After taking office the Coalition cancelled all public transport projects not already under construction and re-allocated the funding to new toll roads.
But of those roads, Melbourne’s East West Link project has collapsed, the Perth Freight Link has been halted in the courts on environmental grounds and the budget for Sydney’s WestConnex project has blown out from $10 billion to $16.8 billion.
With construction activity declining in the mining sector as it moves from the construction to the production stage of its cycle, Australia needs increased government investment in infrastructure to drive economic activity, create jobs and lift economic productivity.
Today’s figures should send a clear message to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to stop just talking about infrastructure and get on with the job.
If Mr Turnbull is serious about nation building he should immediately restore the $4.5 billion cut from public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Link, Adelaide’s Tonsley Park rail project and Gawler line electrification and the $500 million that had been allocated by the former Labor Government for heavy and light rail projects in Perth.
Investment in urban rail as well as better roads is critical to easing the traffic congestion that is acting as a hand brake on growth of Australian cities and reducing the quality of life of millions of Australians.
Carefully targeted investment in infrastructure will not only boost economic activity in the short term, but also lift productivity, driving growth over the medium to long term.