Newman’s cuts will pay off

This article was originally published in The Australian by SMART Infrastructure Senior Research Fellow Joe Branigan. See the original here

IF the promises made in the 2014-15 Queensland budget are realised, Tim Nicholls can be proud of the turnaround in the sunshine state’s financial position compared with the big borrowing and spending Beattie-Bligh era. Continue reading

Beggar bowl politics blocks Federation’s potential

This article was originally published in The Conversation by Garry Bowditch.

Calls to lift the GST rate to placate the states financial challenges will serve to only exacerbate an already severe vertical fiscal imbalance and prolong a deeply unsatisfactory chapter in Australia’s Federation.

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NSW to vet transport projects – AFR

NSW Premier Mike Baird has promised projects financed by the sale of the state’s electricity network will have to pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

In this article in the Australian Financial Review, Garry Bowditch says the NSW Government can boost the state’s productivity by selling the electricity network but it should concentrate on projects that would improve connectivity in the CBD.

Prime Minister pushes for more Canadian investment

Garry Bowditch was recently featured in this radio story from the ABC’s The World Today program:

While he is in Canada, Tony Abbott will meet the heads of some of the country’s wealthiest investment funds. Some have already bought into Australian ports and property developments, but infrastructure analysts here say there is an appetite for more.

Listen to the whole episode here.

The budget will be big on infrastructure, but we need more than just roads

By Garry Bowditch.

The Abbott government is preparing to give Sydney’s WestConnex road project a A$2 billion boost in this week’s federal budget, part of a broader $10 billion infrastructure package aimed at boosting productivity and private sector investment.

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How to attract foreign firms to do Australian infrastructure

By Garry Bowditch

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Australia’s two biggest construction companies, Leighton and Lend Lease, control a significant share of construction – up to 75% in cases such as major rail projects.

The recent Productivity Commission draft report on public infrastructure found their combined “market shares would appear sufficient to allow them to exercise market power to inflate prices and/or profits”.

At the same time, the Commission noted that no evidence exists to support such a proposition. A more important unanswered question remains – what conditions are necessary to attract foreign firms to help Australia deliver cheaper, faster and better infrastructure?

Looking abroad for solutions can solve some problems, but in the case of infrastructure, Australia must first do some necessary and overdue housekeeping before multinational construction companies would be interested in pursuing a long-term presence in the country.

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Hockey attacks ‘corporate and middle class welfare’ as he outlines G20 agenda

In this article in The Conversation, Garry Bowditch argues:

There are a number of factors required to improve the attractiveness of infrastructure as a long-term investment for private funding

These include high design and construction costs, low asset utilisation owing to poor demand management and a reliance on a narrow revenue base such as user charges.

Read the full piece here.

Why It’s the Last Chance for Infrastructure Australia

By Garry Bowditch, for The Financial Review.

In the modern life cycle of government agencies, Infrastructure Australia (IA) has done well to secure a second life with the Abbott government. The challenge now is to deliver more tangible results, as it might be its last chance to do so.

IA has witnessed in its lifetime a dramatic escalation in the cost of infrastructure in Australia, making it one of the most expensive jurisdictions in the world to build mega-projects. As a result taxpayers have suffered poor value for money for each dollar spent. Surprisingly there has been little focus on this by IA.

Read the rest at The Financial Review.