Urban rail focus of national infrastructure statement is welcome development

The decision of the Turnbull Government to embrace urban rail as a national infrastructure priority is a welcome expansion of the Government’s Infrastructure agenda.

“There is a clear nexus between the productivity of our cities and the road and transport infrastructure that supports them”, said Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council of Australia.

“The government has recognised that infrastructure funding must prioritise major urban areas where significant population growth is occurring and where most of Australia’s GDP is generated and we wholeheartedly agree.

“The concept of dedicated rail plans for our five biggest cities represents a big leap forward.

“Sydney and Melbourne are expected to have populations in excess of 8 million by 2050 and the liveability and productivity of our major cities is contingent on substantial investments in roads and transport.

“The support of Infrastructure Australia’s recommendation (5.8) about the use of debt in infrastructure investments is a significant development. With interest rates worldwide at historic lows, this is the right time to use debt as a way of building longer-term economic capability.

“There is a big difference between using debt for recurrent spending and using it to fund projects that strengthen productivity and national income.

“Debt is not the only alternative to further infrastructure investment. The private sector has the capability to invest in projects that are economically viable.”

Mr Morrison said it would appear that the government’s ‘on-again, off-again’ approach to the Asset Recycling Fund is tentatively back ‘on-again’.

“Asset recycling is a good policy that provides real incentives to the states to invest in new infrastructure. It was the Government’s idea, it worked and they should quickly move to lock it in.”

Mr Morrison welcomed the commitment of the government to develop an integrated national freight and supply strategy, as well as work with state and territory governments on ‘last-mile’ issues. 

“There are clear deficiencies across our freight and supply chains and dealing with them is crucial to the productivity of our cities. This is an area where government must closely work with the transport, logistics and property sectors to ensure it gets these linkages right.

“We welcome the review into road pricing. With advancements in technology this is an area where government can be more forward thinking. It is possible to develop models that are good for the environment and the economy and are fair to motorists.”

Mr Morrison said today’s Infrastructure Statement needed to be read alongside the Government’s Value Capture statement released last week.

“Both papers refer to the possibilities of ‘value capture’ in funding infrastructure, but we still do not know what it means and if it is just code for more taxes on property.”

Media contact: Paul Ritchie  |  E: pritchie@propertycouncil.com.au