Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 1 Contents 8 futurebuilding Volume 3 Number 1
Abbott presents his infrastructure vision
Link Needs Assessment Study from 2008; $1.5 billion
for the M4 East in New South Wales; and $1 billion
for the Gateway Motorway North Upgrade, from
Nudgee to the Bruce Highway in Queensland.
Abbott said federal funding commitments should
allow these vital projects to move swiftly, with
support from the private sector and the states.
It was an important announcement because
it signalled growing recognition from federal
policymakers about the need to play a greater role in
helping to bring major projects to market.
That commitment to major project delivery has
been backed by a pledge to streamline infrastructure
delivery by easing the regulatory burden on states
Driving down the cost of major infrastructure will
only enhance Australia's global competitiveness, and
Abbott explained that the proliferation of federal,
state and local environmental approvals had added to
the complexity, cost and uncertainty of infrastructure
A Coalition government has pledged to create
a 'one-stop shop' for environmental approvals,
addressing what Abbott described as the 'indecision,
imprecision and inconsistency which is killing new
The proposal would see states and territories
administer a single approvals process, including
approvals under Commonwealth legislation, such
as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation (EPBC) Act.
A streamlined assessment would be supported
by a single lodgement and documentation process,
States and territories would also have the
exibility to defer to the Commonwealth as the sole,
designated assessor for major offshore developments.
'Environmental standards should be clear,
assessment processes should be swift, and decisions
should be unambiguous,' Abbott said.
He pointed to the proposed Bell Bay pulp mill in
Tasmania as one of the most notorious examples of a
large, job-creating investment that has been bogged
down by an approvals process that has taken years
instead of months.
Under current arrangements, federal and state
regimes regularly overlap when it comes to approval
under the EPBC Act, particularly in the case of
threatened species. This has led to situations in
which the Commonwealth and states have taken
a different view of whether a project should be
approved, resulting in signi cant project delays and
unnecessary cost increases.
The message from the Coalition is simple: the
hurdles involved in getting major projects off the
ground need to be lowered, ensuring that the right
projects can proceed without delay.
In the words of Abbott: 'Approvals have to be
nal, subject to an equally clear and consistent
formal review mechanism. They can't be at the mercy
of last-minute lobbying by campaigners lest Australia
start to lose the investment, the jobs and the wealth
upon which lasting and sustainable environmental
Much has been made of Australia's declining
productivity, which has seen the country fall from
the fth to the 20th most competitive economy in the
world. Yet we've seen little progress on the underlying
Australia's global competitiveness will be
underpinned by reforms that reduce the input costs
for the production of goods and services.
Abbott's appetite for change, and his recent
statements around the proper role for the
Commonwealth, states and private investors in terms
of funding, nancing and operating the nation's
infrastructure, have the infrastructure sector and the
broader business community enthused.
Maintaining that momentum will be paramount.
continued from page 6
Opposition leader Tony
Abbott addresses the
The Hon Mark
Tony Abbott; and Dr
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