Industry must play key role in removing bottlenecks: Albanese

By: Jason Whittaker

The industry is being asked to play a significant role in removing infrastructure bottlenecks as the Federal Government looks to

The industry is being asked to play a significant role in removing infrastructure bottlenecks as the Federal Government looks to public-private partnerships (PPPs) to drive national reform across the supply chain.

Federal Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese says while Infrastructure Australia and the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) will be important cogs in developing nationally consistent regulations, he conceded governments can do only so much.

In a speech given at the Melbourne Institute as part of the New Agenda for Prosperity Conference, Albanese told attendees the Government is focused on national partnerships between itself and private enterprise to fund infrastructure projects.

Albanese says public-private initiatives are essential in delivering productivity gains, such as in the case of capacity constraints in the Queensland and Hunter Valley coal chains, which "show how important it is for governments and the private sector to work together to meet these challenges".

In an address to the shipping industry, Albanese called for a co-ordinated approach to boosting port efficiency.
"Access to ports can and should involve the three levels of government together with the rail and road transport industries, the port owner and stevedores," he says.

Furthermore, the Government it is important the industry works with the New South Wales Government in the development of transport links as part of the intermodal freight hub at Moorebank.

"State Government involvement in planning and supporting infrastructure in this project will be critical," he says.

"The private sector will also have an important role to play to ensure that intermodal facilities operate as an integrated part of the national freight network."

The rail industry is being targeted for a significant infrastructure boost, with Albanese saying a lack of dedicated rail freight lines will equate to more trucks on the road or more containers left sitting at the docks.

"Already $840 million has [been] allocated to significantly improve rail freight links on the northern line between Sydney and Newcastle," Albanese says.

The Government intends to use Infrastructure Australia to promote PPPs by structuring the board with a mixture of private and public officials.

"It is significant that five of the twelve members, including the Chair, will be from the private sector, signifying the importance this Government places on private sector partnerships in the delivery of infrastructure," Albanese says.

Infrastructure Australia is to develop PPP guidelines by October, which Albanese says will make it easier and less expensive for local and international financiers to bid for infrastructure projects.

"When considered to be the best practice procurement option, PPPs maximise value for money, transparency, innovation, risk management and public accountability," he says.

Albanese also used his speeches to show the industry the Government is intent on developing and implementing policies that go beyond the short-term.

He says for too long the industry has been hostage to short-sightedness, with governments trying to implement initiatives that will reap benefits within the three-year electoral cycle.
"Australia needs a triumph of policy vision which looks beyond the electoral cycle," he says.

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