No blow-out but still no plan for infrastructure

Missed opportunity

While a trimmed Asset Investment Program – $6.3b last year to $5.9b in 2016-17 – aligns with CCI’s calls for greater fiscal responsibility, WA is still without a comprehensive infrastructure strategy.

CCI Director of Policy Dale Leggett says while State Government spending reductions were welcomed by the business sector – and part of CCI’s pre-budget submission – there is still the need for a comprehensive plan to drive the state into the future.

“In CCI’s Infrastructure Vision Paper, we pointed out there is no single body in WA responsible for infrastructure planning – after this budget, that is still the case,” Leggett says.

“We don’t clearly know why the projects the State is funding were chosen in the first place, nor do we know what the next priorities will be – we need a five-year plan, a 10-year plan and a 20-year plan.

“As stated in our Vision Paper, prioritisation should be based on an appropriate assessment process.”

Treasurer Mike Nahan announced a new $5 billion Infrastructure Fund – conditional on the sale of Western Power and Horizon Power.

“The Government projects it will accrue about $16 billion from those sales, from which it will use $5 billion on already announced infrastructure projects and use the rest to retire debt,” Leggett says.

“We applaud debt reduction but believe this can be achieved while still outlining a plan for new and future infrastructure projects – the sort of planning that really helps business look ahead and structure their growth.”

The Asset Investment Program in detail

Public transport

  • $2 billion for the Forrestfield Airport Link project
  • $427 million will contributed to the MAX Light Rail project, with planning scheduled to resume in 2016-17
  • $165 million over the next two years for the public transport part of Perth Stadium

Roads

  • $1 billion for the NorthLink WA project, due for completion in 2018-19
  • $145 million for the construction of a dual carriageway on Armadale Road
  • $1.5 billion for the Perth Freight Link

Other

  • $179 million for publicly owned cultural and sporting infrastructure in 2016-17
  • $167.9 million for infrastructure projects that sustain community safety and law and order in 2016-17