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Integrity – delivering value for money on infrastructure projects

Integrity – delivering value for money on infrastructure projects

Ms SPENDER (Wentworth) (14:14):

My question is to the Prime Minister.

In 2014 you told this House that independent cost benefit analysis of infrastructure proposals was necessary to ensure that there is proper value for taxpayers for infrastructure investment and that we get the right infrastructure investment to boost productivity. Does the Prime Minister still hold this view, and if not, why not?  

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister) (14:14): I thank the member for Wentworth for her question. Indeed, I'm very proud that we established Infrastructure Australia. It was one of the first pieces of legislation in the first week of the new Labor government when parliament first sat in 2008 after the 2007 election. What it did was bring together a serious board made up of private sector representatives, as well as representatives from state and local government, to make sure that there was productivity analysis so that the funding and investment by the Commonwealth went to the right projects. That was a board that contained people such as Sir Rod Eddington, and Mark Birrell, the former Kennett government minister in Victoria, was the deputy chair. And we had people like Kerry Schott and Heather Ridout—serious people doing proper analysis through the process. That led to projects being funded—to every single one of the priority projects being funded.

Upon coming to office, we now have legislation before this parliament to amend Infrastructure Australia, to make sure it goes back to where it should be. Indeed, about the former board, and with respect: having a former deputy mayor of a council where the minister happened to come from, compared with someone like Sir Rod Eddington, was just an undermining of that process. It was not taken seriously. The legislation that is before parliament, moved by the infrastructure minister, will make sure that there's transparency and will make sure that there's proper analysis. That's because there's a finite level of resources, and that is why we should make sure that productivity drives that agenda going forward. That is what my government is committed to, and that's what we will get on with the business of doing. I look forward to the parliament supporting the legislation moved by the minister.

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