COAG reaches consensus on infrastructure reform

By: Jason Whittaker

In a sign that co-operative federalism may not be dead just yet, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has managed

In a sign that co-operative federalism may not be dead just yet, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has managed to reach a consensus on addressing infrastructure priorities.

While the fallout from yesterday’s meeting between the Labor governments focused entirely on the Murray River takeover and health funding, there was an indication of governments finally agreeing that a nationally consistent approach to transport is the only way to solve supply chain bottlenecks currently strangling the industry.

According to the communiqué from the meeting, COAG agreed a nationally-coordinated approach will drive critical infrastructure reform, boost the economy and raise productivity.

In order to achieve this, the ministers concluded Infrastructure Australia must complete its national audit by the end of the year. This "critical first step" is to be followed by a priority list to be considered by COAG in March next year.

COAG also sees the development of best practices guidelines for public-private partnerships as another important cog in driving infrastructure reform. The guidelines are due for consideration in October.

The ministers reached an agreement on the need to cut industry red tape, supporint The Businees Regulation and Competition working group which cited 27 areas of regulation in need of reform.

Areas to be addressed include the development of national occupational, health and safety (OH&S)laws and rail safety regulation. OH&S model legislation is to be developed and submitted to the Workplace Relations Ministers' Council by September 2009.

COAG also agreed to look at upstream petroleum regulation, saying the Productivity Commission will conduct a review on the regulation of crude oil and natural gas projects.

In line with a request from the New South Wales Government, COAG will meet again on July 3.

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