25 July 2014

Opening remarks, Forum on Infrastructure and Superannuation, Sydney


This speech was delivered to the Forum on Infrastructure and Superannuation in Sydney.

Well, thank you everyone for coming, particularly to the Premier of NSW Mike Baird, to the Treasurer of NSW Andrew Constance, to all of you as industry representatives and particularly the former Treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello and the now Chairman of the Future Fund. This has come about at the suggestion of the former Treasurer of NSW and now Premier Mike Baird and there is recognition of the fact that we need new infrastructure in Australia to drive a bigger and more productive economy.

With the massive investment in the mining and construction boom coming off, we need to re-allocate national resources as soon as possible into infrastructure and we have to get on, in partnership between the states and the Commonwealth in driving that massive infrastructure program. In the Budget, we announced an Asset Recycling Fund with $5 billion and in addition there were further commitments, which as a result of what we put in our Budget, we expected the partnership with the states to deliver an additional $125 billion of infrastructure in Australia over the next few years. But we do need to move quickly and that is one of the reasons we are having this roundtable today and it is importantly why we need to continue to strengthen the partnership between the Commonwealth Government and State Governments and the private sector.

There is no doubt there is a lot of money in the private sector, there is a huge amount of money and we have got to leverage that money up for the productive good and that will come about by being smarter in that partnership, by ensuring that there is not only the project and projects that are going to drive the productive infrastructure of the economy but that there is facilitation of investment in those projects and therefore we are prepared to be as ambitious as is necessary to develop the financial products in partnership with the private sector that is going to facilitate that investment. That may be longer dated bonds, it might be hybrid bonds, hybrid financial products, it could be a more aggressive use of the Commonwealth credit rating and the Commonwealth balance sheet to help to facilitate that investment.

It is going to be a long-term partnership. The investment is long-term – it is a long-term program overall but infrastructure is a long-term investment and of course these partnerships need to be long-term therefore the rules of the game need to be established early. Naturally enough, we both have our infrastructure advisory group; we have Infrastructure Australia nationally and the Premier has Infrastructure NSW but now is the time to get moving with the economy, now is the time to start building a stronger economy and it is only going to come about by a partnership between the various levels of government and the private sector. So, Premier over to you and Andrew might want to say a couple words and then we will ask the cameras to leave and get on with the job.

Well, there is no doubt that it is quite a partnership with an infrastructure Prime Minister and infrastructure Premier so that is very timely and quite rare because they both want to get on with the job and I’m sure that Treasurer will know how hard it is for us to cope with those sort of ambitions from our leaders, but perhaps he can give me some insights into how he is coping.