Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : July 2011 Contents 36 futurebuilding
Volume 2 Number 1
Continued from page 33
The announcements haven’t stopped with flagship
projects; O’Farrell has taken early and important steps
in the sphere of infrastructure policy. The formation
of Infrastructure NSW, chaired by former Premier
Nick Greiner, with former Sydney Water and AAPT
Managing Director Paul Broad as the Chief Executive,
is one example. The radical overhaul of the transport
agencies under Director General Les Wielinga is
If Infrastructure NSW does its job well, by the end
of this year New South Wales will have a detailed, 20-
year infrastructure strategy. This strategy will get down
into the detail of where future transport, water, energy
and health projects will be delivered, and how they
relate to the state’s land use and economic strategies.
The 20-year infrastructure strategy will also
be used to inform a five-year committed project
pipeline. It will include all capital projects worth
more than $100 million – from hospitals to rail lines
and everything in between.
And Infrastructure NSW is equipped to perform.
The legislation introduced into the Parliament in
May provides the agency with wide-ranging powers
to step in and take control of projects if they falter.
The focus on creating certainty about the state’s
infrastructure priorities is welcome news for a private
sector bruised by the rapidly changing project
landscape seen in recent years.
The appointment of Nick Greiner is in itself an
important signal. He has strong reform credentials,
and oversaw a period of rapid reform and change
during his tenure as Premier. One of his biggest
legacies is the widespread use and development of
the PPP model, which saw billions invested in road
projects such as the M4, M5 and M2 motorways,
and a suite of build-own -operate-transfer (BOOT)
projects in the water sector. More recently, Greiner’s
role on the boards of major infrastructure companies
also gives him a good understanding of the challenges
facing the private sector.
And Greiner’s reform credentials will likely be
important. The huge and growing backlog of projects
and lack of flexibility on the state’s balance sheet
mean the O’Farrell Government will need some
direct and fearless advice – not least about how it
can create the financial capacity to deliver the level
of new infrastructure that the community expects.
In lieu of reforms, with a $7 billion rail project
and a to-be-confirmed multi-billion dollar motorway
already committed, other new projects look difficult to
fund, at least in the short term.
Twenty years of strong global economic prosperity
made it easy for some governments to hide from
the need for meaningful micro-economic reform,
but New South Wales is no longer in that position.
Expectations from the public and business sector about
better infrastructure outcomes are high, and creating
the capacity to meet these expectations will require
politically difficult reforms.
Of course, the scale of O’Farrell’s win leaves him
well equipped with a massive electoral mandate to
The good news is that the government has shown
an early appetite to undertake some of these reforms.
It has announced that it will enter a long-term lease
for the desalination plant at Kurnell, and the market
is already being engaged on franchising Sydney’s ferry
services. The government has asked outgoing Sydney
Water Managing Director, Dr Kerry Schott, to oversee
the desalination plant leasing before she leaves her
post later in the year.
But to really get New South Wales buzzing again,
the O’Farrell Government will be asked to go much
The long list of transport projects that need to be
considered by Infrastructure NSW will need to include
the missing links in Sydney’s motorway network, the F3-
M2 connection, the M4 East, the M5 East duplication
and the F6 Motorway in southern Sydney. It will also
need to consider long-term projects like an M9 far
Continued on page 38
point to a government
that’s not shy about
to delivery, with
centre stage in the
first 100 days.
Barry the Builder – Can he fix it?
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