Opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced an infrastructure policy designed to create a $10 billion “concrete bank” for 10 national projects.
The idea has been based upon the Clean Energy Finance Corporation “green bank”. It will be funded with $3.6 billion in the “building Australian Fund“.
“An efficient infrastructure market is an essential precondition to the productivity and growth we need,” Mr Shorten said in his announcement.
Dermot Duncan, the head of carbon markets at Greenbank Environmental, Australia’s largest independent environmental trader, provided insight into what Mr Shorten and the Labor party were trying to accomplish.
“Bill Shorten’s project isn’t just about the critical infrastructure. It’s a project that’s going to finish what has started, but has fallen behind,” Mr Duncan told The Newsroom.
“The idea of having the concrete bank is to allow projects to access government money. It’s often similar to the way that the investors from the private sector operate, and they will often look to see if there’s a percentage of government debts or equity they can involve in the projects,” Mr Duncan said.
Mr Shorten stressed the importance of addressing the “infrastructure deficit” and outlined the significance of the “concrete bank” in rectifying it.
“Australia’s infrastructure deficit is an economic challenge that demands national leadership.”
Mr Shorten highlighted the economic potential of maximising investment in infrastructure, and pointed to the falling trend in this sector.
“According to the Bureau of Statistics, public sector investment in infrastructure has fallen by more than 20 per cent for the June 2015 quarter, compared with the last quarter Labor was in government nationally,” he said. “Infrastructure Australia has estimated that the economic cost of underinvestment is projected to reach $53 billion.”
He said that the initiative would create new jobs, boost productivity, and boost Australia’s international competitiveness. “We’ve backed our rhetoric up with substance.”
The initiative will broaden the role of Infrastructure Australia. Five of the 10 shortlisted projects are in Queensland, including Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and Gold Coast’s Light Rail stage two. There are also projects in Sydney and Melbourne. – Soheir Adas