The Productivity Commission’s landmark but damning report on the funding and provision of public infrastructure in Australia should have been a major news highlight of the week. But Senate showdowns, carbon tax death throes, the most watched murder case in recent years and, dare I say it, the World Cup all conspired to keep it at the margins of public discussion. That is a pity, because the Commission has produced a convincing case for root and branch reform of how public infrastructure projects are funded and delivered and its report _ all 807 pages of it _ deserves more attention than the couple of worthy appearances that a hectic 24 hour news cycle was able to give it.
To quote just one finding: “There are numerous examples of poor value for money arising from inadequate project selection, potentially costing Australia billions of dollars”.
Sobering stuff. But for local government, the report is doubly important in that it proposes major reforms to road funding. Specifically, it recommends that:
“The first step in a long-term transition to a more efficient and effective approach to the provision and funding of roads should be the establishment of Road Funds by state and territory governments. State governments, and local government associations, should actively encourage and support local governments to form regional Road Funds for networks of local roads”.
The Commission believes these road funds should ensure that the one entity integrate the tasks of road funding and provision, a reform it says will enable road charging and provision to be more effectively considered on a regional portfolio basis.
The report and what it says is certainly worthy of more than one blog post so stay tuned.