Nov 28, 2012

Question Without Notice – Infrastructure Investment in Australia

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (14:30):  My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister update the House on what the government is doing to encourage infrastructure investment in Australia?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:30):  I thank the member for Makin for his question. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Italian delegation who are in the chamber today. This delegation, led by Mr de Mistura, the Italian Under Secretary of State, is the largest ever Italian economic delegation to come to Australia, with more than 35 companies and more than 50 people. What they see in our strong economy is opportunity—opportunities for investment that will benefit these Italian companies but that will also benefit Australia. It is because we have the fundamentals right that we can benefit from international construction expertise, and healthy competition in the infrastructure construction sector which delivers better outcomes for the Australian taxpayer. That is why foreign investment is welcome in Australia: better outcomes for the Australian taxpayer.

We have practical examples as a result of the work that I have been doing over the last few years. The Legacy Way tunnel project in Brisbane is a good example. The Italian firm Ghella and the Spanish firm Acciona, in partnership with local firm BMD, were the successful bidders on this $2 billion project, and they were many hundreds of millions of dollars lower than the next bid. They bring their expertise, particularly in tunnelling, to Australia. Rizzani de Eccher, another company in the delegation, is also involved in a major infrastructure project, the $812 million South Road Superway in Adelaide. This project is the biggest investment in a South Australian road project ever and the state’s most complex engineering road project to date.

These outcomes are a direct result of the dialogue between the Australian government and Italian companies, as well as initiatives such as the Foreign Direct Investment Promotion and Attraction Strategy for Major Australian Infrastructure developed by my department and Austrade, who have played a very important role in these issues.

We on this side of the chamber are encouraging investment in infrastructure through a range of measures. Through the infrastructure working group we have also cut red tape so that prequalification applies: if you apply in one state, you can operate right throughout the economy, thereby ensuring that there is a benefit for the nation’s productivity.


Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (14:33):  Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister explain what other measures the government has put in place to boost investment in infrastructure?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:33):  I thank the member for Makin for his supplementary question. Indeed, during the budget week, I launched the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule. What companies in Australia and overseas say they want is a pipeline of projects. If you are going to make the decision to come to Australia and make Australia a centre to invest in the fastest growing region in the world, then you need to know that there is not just one project but a pipeline of projects ahead. The National Infrastructure Construction Schedule lists every public sector project of a value greater than $50 million, with time lines, estimated costs and processes for bidding so that it is available on one site. Well over a million hits have occurred on that site since we launched it in May.

When I was in Italy last week, the Italian companies involved said that the information available had been greatly enhanced as a result, and I want to thank the state and territory governments for their cooperation. In addition, the national prequalification system, the National PPP Policy and Guidelines, and the National Alliance Contracting Policy and Guidelines all mean that we are removing red tape to improve efficiency and productivity in the economy, provide better infrastructure and get better outcomes.