Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 2 Contents 86 futurebuilding Volume 3 Number 2
Graham Bradley AM
it discourages managers from exploring new ways
of working in collaboration with their workforce,
then the system is not operating in everyone's -- or
anyone's -- best interests.
I would like to talk about the issue of promoting
our growth story to the wider community.
Our fundamental belief at the BCA is that enduring
prosperity and rising living standards require a strong
and growing economy. And our sense is that some
parts of the Australian community's experience with
economic growth gives them cause to be suspicious
of it. This is creating an environment where necessary
reform is dif cult, and vital projects are delayed.
So we are in a vicious circle, where governments
don't explain, plan for, or prepare for growth, and
we continue to play catch-up. We also then incur the
understandable community backlash against policies
needed to foster economic growth.
But delivery of cost-effective economic and social
infrastructure is essential to support future economic
growth, and will be needed to maintain full
employment once our terms of trade and commodity
prices begin to wane.
Improved infrastructure in our cities and regions
is also vital to demonstrate to the community the
continued bene ts of economic and population
growth. The most recent Intergenerational Report
projects that the populations of Sydney and
Melbourne will grow to around seven million
people each by 2050 -- and some of us feel that's an
undershoot -- Brisbane to four million, and Perth to
more than two million.
This should be seen as a great opportunity for
signi cant urban renewal, provided we make the
right investments. Infrastructure investment decisions
need to be made in accordance with long-term
infrastructure plans that set sound priorities based
on fair dinkum, and openly available, cost-bene t
analysis. Some parts of Australia do this well, but
many do not. Integrated planning within and across
governments must be vastly improved. We need
infrastructure and growth strategies for our cities
that establish a realistic and achievable pipeline of
infrastructure projects and land use policies that will
cater properly for current and future growth.
While government funding for infrastructure
has been relatively strong in recent years, partly in
response to the global nancial crisis, it now looks
like it will have to fall.
Clearly, we will need to have a serious debate on
how to fund and nance infrastructure in Australia.
So the Business Council, amongst others, keenly
awaits the government's comprehensive response
to the report of the Infrastructure Finance Working
Group, released last June.
It would be a shame if the government's response
to this important Working Group report were to be
piecemeal rather than comprehensive.
We have a greater sense of urgency on this issue.
The bottom line is that we could -- and should
-- develop a new Australia-wide pipeline of
public infrastructure projects, ready to roll as the
resource projects are progressively completed, or,
dare I say it, deferred.
The current project pipeline won't come to a
shuddering halt, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't
be thinking very seriously about what's going to
support the economy beyond the commodity boom.
Our dollar may not be coming down so strongly
yet, but the commodity prices are coming down fast.
We can continue to make use of the skills that
we have acquired through the big resource projects
to sustain and strengthen the economy, but we need
to plan for it now. We need to have the right set of
infrastructure projects ready to go. But what are they?
Well, they should be the projects that will have the
highest positive return on the capital invested; that
will have the biggest possible impact on Australia's
economic competitiveness and productivity moving
forward, and on people's lives. They should not be
politically chosen projects based on untested cost-
bene t analysis, or none at all.
Initiatives such as the Melbourne Metropolitan
Plan, and the New South Wales Government's draft
transport infrastructure master plan, are important
steps in the right direction towards what we should
hope would be fully planned, committed, and funded
projects in the pipeline -- that's what we need.
We are in a vicious circle,
where governments don't
explain, plan for, or prepare for
growth, and we continue to
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