EDITORIAL: Sexy infrastructure getting the wolf-whistling it deserves

By: Jason Whittaker

Infrastructure is the new black. The word on the street is about upgrading the street. The new minister for everything, federal

Infrastructure is the new black. The word on the street is about upgrading the street.

The new minister for everything, federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government head Anthony Albanese, joked at Wednesday's National Press Club address that he should have titled his speech 'making infrastructure sexy'. In fact, transport infrastructure particularly has never been more alluring.

The chorus from industry to invest — and invest wisely — in transport infrastructure has never been louder. At the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) forum in Canberra last week, Asciano chief Mark Rowsthorn branded the rail network a "disgrace and a basketcase ... an absolute tragedy". Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe added his voice, hitting out at the previous Government for dragging its feet on the inland rail link.

ALC Chairman Ivan Backman declared supply chain is in "crisis". The ALC, through Meyrick and Associates, has presented its list of demands to government in a Infrastructure Programs for Addressing Supply Chain Blockages report, and vowed to lead the campaign for better investment decisions.

Albanese snubbed the conference, but he is listening. Already he has acted to streamline public-private partnerships on infrastructure projects, vowed to tap rich super funds for investment dollars and tasked the National Transport Commission (NTC) to examine a number of key transport issues, including infrastructure priorities. And the Rudd Government will invest heavily in nation-building projects, he insists.

Tomorrow, Albanese will take to parliament the legislation to create Infrastructure Australia, the first real attempt at a cross-border, public-private authority to map and fund the most critical infrastructure projects.

There's no new money in the kitty, and the transport industry will watch keenly come Budget time to see whether the Coalition's AusLink funding commitments are matched and bettered in the future.

But at least infrastructure may finally be getting the attention it deserves.

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