Infrastructure Australia’s third national infrastructure audit confirms the need for the Morrison Government to produce a real plan for infrastructure to protect jobs, curb rising congestion and stimulate the economy.
Labor welcomes the extensive piece of work by Infrastructure Australia that includes a broad review of economic and social infrastructure and confirms the need for infrastructure investment decisions to be based on clear evidence.
After six years of cuts and inaction, the audit is another stark reminder of the real pressures in the system now.
With 77 percent of population growth over the coming 15 years projected to occur in our fast-growing cities, the audit finds that congestion on our roads and crowding on public transport is forecast to cost the economy billions each year in lost productivity.
By 2031, road congestion in our major cities will cost the economy $39 billion – more than double the cost in 2016. Over the same period, the cost of public transport crowding to our major cities will grow almost 500 percent to $837 million.
The audit finds that access to transport is difficult for many Australians, notably low income households, people with disability, older Australians, people in regional and remote communities and in the outer suburbs of our major cities.
The audit notes that Australia’s freight task continues to grow quickly, inconsistent regulation hinders efficiency and key regional bottlenecks still exist for agricultural supply chains.
The third term Morrison Government has overseen a sharp drop in Australia’s international competitiveness, with the audit finding Australia has plummeted nine spots on the ease of doing business rankings to 18th.
Contributing to this fall in international competitiveness is the Morrison Government’s dismal record of spending $5.1 billion less on infrastructure than promised over the past six years.
Worse still, the Morrison Government’s so-called $100 billion infrastructure program doesn’t even add up, and less than 30 per cent of it is budgeted for the next four years.
Yet the Morrison Government refuses to heed calls from the RBA Governor and State Liberal Treasurers to bring forward infrastructure investment – particularly in regional Australia.
At this critical time when economic growth is the slowest it has been in ten years, wages are stagnant, and living standards are going backwards, Australians are demanding the Morrison Government produce a real plan for infrastructure.
Instead, since coming to office the Liberals and Nationals have trashed the independence of Infrastructure Australia, slashed billions from infrastructure spending, and abolished the $3.9 billion Building Australia Fund.