Oct 7, 2008

Transcript of ABC’s AM Program

Transcript of ABC’s AM Program

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Member for Grayndler

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Subject: Infrastructure Australia’s assessment and selection guidelines

October 7 2008

COMPERE: With billions of dollars to spend on infrastructure the Prime Minister will today outline the terms on which the money will be handed out. Kevin Rudd says the Government will be delivering a transformational vision for the infrastructure of the 21st century and the process will be truly transparent.

But will the process really be free of politics? Our chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

REPORTER: With buckets of money to be spent there have already been accusations from the Opposition that the infrastructure funds will be a $76 billion slush fund to be used to advance the Government’s own cause and that of its troubled state Labor counterparts.

In rejecting the suggestion the Government’s always said there will be solid guidelines for spending the money.

Today the Prime Minister will put some meat on those bones. In a speech to be delivered in Brisbane he’ll outline a series of questions any project will have to face, hurdles of a sort, covering whether the project expands the nation’s productive capacity, builds global competitive advantage, develops cities or regions, improves the quality of life and whether it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, says all of those considerations will be important in deciding if a project is funded.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: They’ll be competing against each other, when a very tough assessment is made of each project, in short, asking does a project stack up.

REPORTER: The projects will be appraised against what’s commonly called the triple bottom line, looking at the economic, social and environmental benefits and costs and appraisals will be assessed over a 30-year time frame.

Perhaps mindful of some less than spectacular performances by some major infrastructure projects in the states, Mr Rudd says in his speech that the guidelines mean those proposing projects won’t be able to overstate the benefits and understate the costs, as he says sometimes has been the case in the past.

Mr Albanese says all the costs will be looked at.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s why I think the Australian public will be confident that the Rudd Government is putting in place a rigorous process for the first time to ensure that there is value for money when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars being spent.

REPORTER: Mr Rudd says the guidelines will ensure the process of preparing a list of projects will be truly transparent. Maybe, but the projects will still have to go to Cabinet for final approval which has some worried that that is the point that politics will enter into the process and decisions will be made on the basis of where the biggest political advantage lies.

The Minister is confident politics will be taken out of the equation.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s in the Government’s interest to make sure that we take the politics out of this process and that we have an objective criteria based upon the national interest because of that is what the Australian public want. The politics will not – not be a consideration.

REPORTER: But it’s not clear whether the public will be able to see the advice that goes from Infrastructure Australia to the Cabinet on what projects it recommends for funding.

COMPERE: Lyndal Curtis reporting from Canberra.