Feb 10, 2017

Time to get serious about infrastructure

The Turnbull Government must heed yesterday’s call by Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe to lift infrastructure investment to boost the national economy and address traffic congestion.

Echoing calls by his predecessor Glenn Stevens, Mr Lowe said that improving the state of the Budget should not preclude investing in rail and roads to meet community needs.

Mr Lowe also said increased investment in transport infrastructure would help improve housing affordability.

After taking office the Coalition scrapped all funding for public transport, despite advice from Infrastructure Australia that it is acting as a hand brake on economic growth.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last month show the value of work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Abbott-Turnbull governments than in any of the 21 quarters under the Rudd-Gillard governments after the first Labor Budget in 2008.

Mr Turnbull has also sought to mislead Australians about his commitment to nation building, falsely claiming he is running a $50 billion infrastructure program despite his own Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development valuing the program at $34 billion.

It is time Mr Turnbull got out of the propaganda business and started building the railways and roads our nation needs to sustain growth.

Good infrastructure projects boost the economy by creating jobs and economic activity in the short term.

But the right projects also boost productivity, which facilitates ongoing growth and job creation in the medium to long term.

During last year’s election campaign Labor proposed to invest in public transport and better roads around the nation.

But the Coalition has failed to commence a single new public transport project anywhere in the nation.

Just last week the Coalition again made excuses for not funding the vital Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.

The Government must move beyond taking selfies on trains and actually invest in public transport.