Infrastructure Plan targets Queensland on asset recycling
Infrastructure Australia Chairman Mark Birrell is right on the money: “The (Australian Infrastructure) Plan will only be as good as the commitments and leadership that follow,” he said this week.
Infrastructure Australia has released its inaugural 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan which promises to deliver more affordable, innovative and competitive energy, telecommunications, water and transport services.
With the nation’s population expected to grow to more than 30 million by 2031 and demand for our resources and services continuing to increase, the boldness of Infrastructure Australia in having a long-term vision is highly commendable.
The implementation of the reforms and projects recommended in the plan will indeed drive Australia’s global competitiveness and future prosperity, but businesses will need evidence of financial commitment before confidence grows.
There is little point having a consensus priority list if there was not a serious funding plan from Federal and State Governments. A detailed funding outline will be critical in the implementation of the 15-year plan and will be the catalyst for a surge in business investment.
Businesses will expect a number of funding options to be presented at the table. Of particular interest to small business is the recommendation pertaining to competitive markets which reads:
“All governments should transfer their remaining publicly-owned electricity generation, network and retail businesses to private ownership. Public ownership of commercial businesses, including monopolies in well-regulated markets, distorts outcomes, stifles competition and harm consumers.
• All remaining retail and generation businesses in public ownership should be prepared for sale, including Snowy Hydro; and
• Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory should begin the process of explaining the need for reform to the community, with a view to divesting all electricity network assets. New South Wales should articulate a pathway to a full sale as soon as practically achievable following the partial lease process currently underway.”
The plan explains that publicly-owned electricity network assets and retail and generation businesses are falling short of the efficient investment and operation that could be achieved under a commercial approach.
Private operators bring commercial rigour to investment decisions as their shareholders act as a powerful discipline to increase efficiency and foster innovation.
The Australian and Queensland Governments will now feel the pressure to act on this independent report. A close eye will be kept on the State Government particularly on its response and actioning of many key recommendations to ensure Queensland remains globally competitive.
Infrastructure Australia estimated that infrastructure provided a $33.9 billion dollar economic contribution to Queensland with this forecast to grow to $71.2 billion over the next 20 years. The plan has enabled the community to understand how this can be achieved and in turn, is expected to create a groundswell of optimism.
It is important that Queensland’s infrastructure networks are the enablers of future economic growth by driving ongoing private business investment and expansion into regional areas, enhancing the competitiveness of business in both domestic and global marketplaces.
This will allow for the future prosperity for all Queensland communities.
Read CCIQ’s media release on the Australian Infrastructure Plan here.