Govt slates PPP investment targets

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The federal government will seek guidance on setting national targets for public-private infrastructure investment.


As part of its 15-year national plan the coalition will make a submission to a Productivity Commission inquiry into public infrastructure, assistant minister Jamie Briggs told a meeting of stakeholders in Sydney on Thursday.

“If we were to set economy-wide investment targets, this could deliver more certainty and, with it, a pipeline of projects,” Mr Briggs said.

Investment subject to fiscal challenges and therefore uncertain, can lead to project cost blowouts while deterring future offshore spending, Mr Briggs said.

A public-private partnership benchmark would send a very clear message to the market that not only is there a project pipeline, but it’s backed by financial certainty, he said.

The coalition has made it a priority to attract private sector investment and while it acknowledges the support of global banking and financial institutions, the government wants a broadened investment base.

“I would like to see greater involvement by our locally-based super funds which manage billions of dollars of Australians’ retirement savings,” Mr Briggs said.

The Productivity Commission is due to release an initial issues paper on infrastructure financing options later on Thursday with a final report expected in May.

Meanwhile, the government continues to champion its idea of a tax incentive plan for states and territories which sell off public assets and put the money into new “economically-productive” infrastructure.

But the Electrical Trades Union said the move was a cash grab.

“Sure, a state government can pocket a one-off windfall through selling, but that would be wiped out within a decade once you take foregone income into account,” union national secretary Allen Hicks said.

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