Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 2 Contents futurebuilding 37
Volume 3 Number 2
At the end of it, you get better 'built' infrastructure.
But you really start at the operational, pricing,
I think we have agreement, but we've just got to
get governments and their constituents to the same
point in the debate.
Nicholas Moore: I remember ying into
Melbourne 21 years ago, and it was a different city.
Unemployment was 10 or 11 per cent and state
debt was $31 billion. There was a real hunger and an
appetite for things to change.
We don't have that hunger today, because we
have unemployment at ve per cent and things are
going well. People may be nervous, but we don't
have that same hunger for reform that we had then.
From a political standpoint, there is a unanimous
view that more reform would be good, and that more
infrastructure would be good, but we all know there
is short-term pain for the longer-term bene ts.
The short-term pain of reform is what weighs
against the long-term implementation of the sorts of
programs and plans that we talk about.
The political cycle is inescapable. We have to be
prepared for the political cycle and the economic
cycle to be changing.
It's not a question of waiting until the world
changes. A lot of work can be done with the states.
It's actually taking place in Victoria and New South
Wales, and other places. Those states are looking at
longer-term plans, and are starting to get ready in
case the opportunity or need arises.
We can't overlook the fact that we've been
involved in a very substantial commodities-driven
resources boom over the last few years. And,
practically, the economy can only t in so much
investment. So to have had an infrastructure boom
while the resources boom was taking place obviously
wouldn't have t into the economy. There has to be a
certain queuing that takes place, and, to an extent, the
political cycle allows that queuing to work through.
Mark Birrell: Nicholas, you've been involved
in breakthrough projects like CityLink and WestLink
M7. Do you have hope that you can continue doing
those sorts of projects in tough times?
Nicholas Moore: I think historically you'll nd
that those projects happen more in the tough times
than in the good times. They naturally happen when
the commodity cycle slows down. I'm not saying it
will, but if it does come in, we would naturally expect
those projects to step up. That's why it's important for
governments to look at those projects, to prioritise
those projects and to do the necessary work with the
local communities and the local networks to see how
they work, so that they are actually ready to move
with those projects.
Mark Birrell: Mark, looking at the Canadian
environment, how many of the infrastructure issues
you are facing are common with Australia, and how
many are distinct?
Mark Romoff: We've been fortunate that we
weathered the global economic crisis quite well in
Canada, and our economic fundamentals are strong.
We have a government that is very committed to
de cit reduction.
But our situation is a bit different in that we nd
ourselves snuggled up to the United States, and are
historically quite dependent on that market for our
own continuing growth.
The Government of Canada and our provinces
are all focusing very much on what you would
expect: job creation, economic prosperity and
global competitiveness. The focus is shifting to how
we can become more innovative and how we can
become more of a global player. The governments
across Canada have made signi cant investments
in innovation agendas, focused around the ability to
The Government of Canada and our
provinces are all focusing very much on what
you would expect: job creation, economic
prosperity and global competitiveness
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