Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : December 2010 Contents 60 futurebuilding DECEMBER 2010
Federal election: Australia's infrastructure opportunities must not be squandered
Continued from page 58
The Government's Perspective
Future Building asked Federal Infrastructure and
Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to outline the
government's infrastructure strategy.
How would you characterise the Coalition's infrastructure
Unfortunately the former Howard Government cut public
infrastructure spending as a proportion of national income by 25
per cent. As well as slashing $2 billion from the roads budget and
starving the interstate rail network of much-needed funding, they
refused to invest in urban public transport or new and expanded
Bottlenecks at our ports and capacity constraints on our rail
lines cost the Australian economy tens of billions of dollars in
lost export income during the previous mining boom. In the
Hunter Valley alone, the New South Wales Minerals Council has
estimated the losses to be at least $2 billion over fve years.
What were the federal election highlights for infrastructure?
At this year's general election there was a clear choice:
continued record investment in the nation's social and economic
infrastructure with Labor, or cuts to the capital works budget and
the shelving of visionary projects such as the National Broadband
Network with the conservatives.
Labor in offce has consistently put the national government
to work, building the physical infrastructure that promotes
economic development. This was never more evident than in
Labor’s job-creating, recession-fghting Economic Stimulus Plan,
which contained an extra $10 billion for the nation's transport
What is the government's infrastructure vision?
The Gillard Labor Government's end goal is simple: to build
the smart infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century
that will make our economy more productive, our regions more
prosperous and our cities more sustainable.
Motivated by this ambition, Labor has wasted no time in
restoring national leadership and overhauling the way our nation
plans, fnances and builds its infrastructure.
As well as appointing the frst Federal Infrastructure Minister,
we've created Infrastructure Australia to drive ongoing regulatory
reform, undertake long-term planning, and rigorously evaluate the
merits of major infrastructure proposals.
Will the make-up of the Parliament hinder infrastructure project
The formal agreement between the government and the
Independents gives me confdence that the Parliament won’t
hinder or unnecessarily delay the implementation of our ambitious
reform and investment agenda.
What is your view on High Speed Rail?
It's pretty clear that there's a lot of public support for High
Speed Rail, but before now it's been theoretical. To date there
hasn't been a thorough examination of the costs, of the routes,
or of the geotechnical issues associated with developing a High
Speed Rail network down the eastern seaboard.
What we need to do is put dollars next to this proposal and
then have a debate in the community about whether they want it
to go forward. That's the very purpose of the $20 million detailed
feasibility study we will soon commission.
However, it's clear from previous studies that population density
is key to the viability of High Speed Rail. Essentially, you need to
have the passenger numbers in order for the economics to stack up.
That’s why Sydney to Newcastle would be a likely frst step.
Labor in office has
consistently put the
national government to
work, building the physical
infrastructure that promotes
Federal Infrastructure and
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