Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 4 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 71
Volume 4 Number 1
Some, of course, will say that the sky will fall,
investment will evaporate and we'll all be ruined.
The same arguments, after all, were peddled in
Queensland three years ago when Aurizon was
oated, and yet I stick by the mantra that I set at that
time -- it was the right decision, at the right time, for
the right reasons.
There are some things that simply should not be run
by government, nor are they deserving of taxpayers'
funds that are better spent in the community.
While some sections of the community are yet to
be convinced on privatisation, the recent port sales
here in New South Wales demonstrate that there is
plenty of appetite in the investment world.
The deliberate action by the New South Wales
Government to recycle those funds into new, higher-
priority infrastructure is a worthy precedent.
We need to do more to educate and inform on
the merits of privatising assets that are not part of
government's social pact with the community.
Again, the sale or part-sale of ARTC would be
the logical foundation for broader consideration of
private sector involvement; for example, in the Inland
Freight Rail Project. Here we could recycle capital
and look at new funding approaches unwritten by
that kind of long-term view of commerciality.
We know we have to solve the bottleneck that
is the east coast rail route between Melbourne,
Brisbane and Sydney -- a corridor that struggles from
a rail point of view with a mere 15 per cent market
share. Notwithstanding work that's been done in
recent years, this route remains beset by legacy issues
of alignment, track structure and technology, as well
as urban congestion and the competing demand of
We must continue to deal pragmatically with
these, while seeking longer-term, sustainable
solutions. That's why at Aurizon we were so interested
in the Federal and state governments' commitment to
examine the progress of a freight bypass to the Port of
Brisbane as part of that Inland Freight Rail Proposal.
It's a clever play on multiple dimensions, not
only on ef cient general freight movements. If
delivered, the proposal would generate productivity
gains through direct, faster and more reliable access
for rail freight to and from the port. It would also
open up a suite of opportunities for rural goods and
agribusiness, both in Queensland and in New South
Wales. This is how we can achieve infrastructure-
enabling shifts in economic activity and value
creation, where we tap into that next wave of
investment as Asia's 'food bowl'.
The role of rail here is to reinvigorate those
ageing supply chains, particularly those that service
our agriculture industry. We also need to consider
how we make them competitive and commercially
valuable, and how we work with major customers
in these supply chains, including the global grain
players that have turned their attention and their
interest to this part of the world.
Let's be clear: there is no silver bullet for the
ailing regional freight networks across Australia,
many of which have been with us since Federation
and indeed before. Some are clearly past their use-by
date, and are better served, in all honesty, by road
servicing into rail hubs.
Rail can never be everything to everyone. That's
a mistake that government has too often made
with railways in Australia over the generations,
and invariably it's a notion only supported by
But there are opportunities if we're clever,
selective and commercially savvy. The long-run
business case must stack up.
As we've heard, the private sector and the
investment community will be interested and
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