ALC backs Abbott's infrastructure proposal

Tony Abbott's plan to "revitalise Infrastructure Australia" gains the backing of peak lobby group the Australian Logistics Council

April 15, 2011

The Australian Logistics Council has backed Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s plan to reform the government advisory body, Infrastructure Australia.

Abbott wants Infrastructure Australia to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on projects worth more than $100 million and to develop a rolling 15-yer infrastructure plan for the country to be revised every five years.

Abbott says a long-term plan will give industry certainty on what projects governments will pursue and when they will begin.

"The Opposition’s proposals, which are similar to those consistently argued for by ALC, are worthy of consideration," ALC CEO Michael Kilgariff says.

"If productivity is the goal then rigours assessments should be made on a whole of supply chain basis and not piecemeal."

Abbott says he will guarantee ongoing funding for Infrastructure Australia and retain Sir Rod Eddington as the chair of the group.

"The Coalition’s commitment means that IA will be provided with the resources necessary for it to do its job properly," he says.

Kilgariff says Infrastructure Australia must receive appropriate resources to look after any extra work in assessing infrastructure projects.

"Properly funded, Infrastructure Australia could play the same role in infrastructure development as the Productivity Commission in relation to advice on economic policy," he says.

"Poorly funded, it will only act as a roadblock to efficient decision making."

Under Abbott’s proposal, Infrastructure Australia will be required to specify infrastructure priorities at a national and state level based on an assessment of competing projects submitted by the states.

Abbot says the current state of Australia’s infrastructure "is manifestly inadequate for a first world country".

He says his government will have the final say on what projects to pursue, but it will give priority to Infrastructure Australia’s recommendations and will not fund projects over $100 million that have not been submitted to a cost benefit analysis.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd established Infrastructure Australia to recommend nationally significant projects that should receive funding, such as roads, ports and railways.

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