The revised national infrastructure audit released by Infrastructure Australia confirms the need for infrastructure investment decisions to be based on clear evidence.
It follows the first ever Australian infrastructure audit, which was completed by Infrastructure Australia in 2008.
The updated audit shows traffic congestion could cost the Australian economy $53 billion by 2031.
It also notes that demand for public transport in capital cities will almost double in the next 20 years.
The figures are stark. They confirm that absurdity of Tony Abbott’s stubborn refusal to invest in public transport.
It is important that the government recognizes the role of Infrastructure Australia in guiding where government infrastructure funding should be invested.
Since coming to office, Mr Abbott has sidelined Infrastructure Australia by choosing to fund projects like the East-West Link in Melbourne, despite it having a benefit-cost ratio of a paltry 0.45, meaning it would return only 45 cents in public benefit for every dollar invested.
Mr Abbott proposes to fund the East West Link by cutting funding from public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, both of which would deliver positive economic returns and which Infrastructure Australia recommended should be funded.
Mr Abbott has also cut funding for road projects with high productivity returns such as the M80 project in Melbourne.
The updated Infrastructure Australia audit reaffirms the need for a multi-modal approach to deal with urban congestion and infrastructure challenges.
Our cities need integrated transport systems that include both roads and rail to deliver the productivity gains that will drive economic prosperity and jobs growth.