12/02/15

Committee Communiqué

Asset recycling is a sound option

The Queensland state election was widely thought to be lost by the Newman Government off the back of public opposition to their plans to privatise assets. When combined with fears in New South Wales that voters are rejecting similar proposals in the lead up to their upcoming election, this is a major concern for us going forward. Speaking on ABC News Breakfast this week, CEO Kate Roffey noted that asset recycling, if done properly, can create positive returns. Particularly if the dollars realised from privatisation are used to fund infrastructure builds, which in their own right will generate positive economic returns in the future. The ACCC warn that we need to choose the right assets to privatise, and need to be mindful of unhealthy competitive outcomes or inadequate regulation, but these issues can be managed. Privatisation offers us the opportunity to leverage welltested assets to invest in growth for the future. It is important we encourage governments to undertake appropriate asset recycling initiatives to keep our infrastructure building program moving forward.

Approve the Dandenong rail corridor PPP as a priority

Late last month, the consortium proposing to undertake essential capacity upgrades to the Dandenong rail corridor presented a revised PPP proposal to the Andrews government for consideration. This project was originally presented to the former Napthine Government via its Unsolicited Proposal Strategy, which encouraged the private sector to propose major projects to government as PPPs. This is a good proposal that appropriately utilises a Public Private Partnership funding model to accelerate the time frame for some essential infrastructure works. This project will not only result in capacity upgrades to this already overcrowded line, it will also create some needed jobs. If undertaken in its full form, it could serve as an excellent template for the upgrade of our whole train network. We are well past time to get this project underway. It’s a good proposal – now let’s get to work.

Densification needs to be well planned and serviced

A report released this week shows new apartment towers in Melbourne are being built at densities greater than those allowed in cities like Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo. Speaking to 3AW, CEO Kate Roffey noted that we do not currently have the significant population levels that require this type of densification. While densification in itself is not a bad thing, it is important that we do it right. We are the world’s most liveable city; as such we should require some minimum standards with regard to apartments to ensure we maintain that level of liveability. We must also ensure that dwellings with high density ratios have adequate access to public transport, public open spaces, are well connected, and are pleasant places to live. We will need to densify if we are to reach a population of 8 million – but we must do it properly if we are to maintain our high regard as a great place to both live and do business.

Energy security a looming issue.

A report released by Uniting Care Australia has shown that power bills are one of the biggest sources of financial distress for low income earners. This raises the question of where our energy will come from in the future, and how much will it cost. Brown coal, coal seam gas, liquid natural gas, solar and wind power, and this week nuclear energy; have all been mooted as options for the future. But as yet, we have no clear way forward for our energy security. It is an incredibly complex issue, and the sensitivities around environmental sustainability versus access to reliable and cheap power when we want it, create tensions that those in political office are less than keen to confront. Regardless, energy security is a looming issue that we must address sooner rather than later.

Trams, bikes and automobiles

All share the same roads, and all need to somehow find a way to get along. While many of us abide by the unwritten rule that the biggest vehicle has the right of way – a simple case of self-preservation rather than reliance on legalities – there is a question as to who does have the legal right of way. For cars and trams, the road rules are clear and for the most part people abide by them. But in the case of bikes and cars, it seems there is some confusion. The emergence of green cycle lanes in particular has raised the question of who has the right of way at an intersection – a car turning left, or a bike on the inside lane going straight ahead? Having asked around, the answer is certainly not well known, if it is legally clear at all. It seems that a simple process of clarification, and then educating both car and bike users as to the rules, would go a long way to assisting us to better share roads.

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