Mark Birrell: reforming infrastructure to ‘right reasons at the right time’

Infrastructure Australia chair Mark Birrell outlines the reform needed if Australians are to secure the real benefits they seek from the infrastructure of today and tomorrow.

Infrastructure is fundamental to the national economy and it underpins both economic and social wellbeing. It helps define our national identity, because our infrastructure aspirations are a reflection of our ambition as a country.

Australia is already acknowledged as having among the world’s most sophisticated infrastructure and construction sectors. Correctly so, given our national legacy of past reforms to the procurement and regulation of infrastructure assets, and especially the creation of infrastructure markets.

But it is increasingly obvious to users, providers and policymakers that infrastructure reform must go further. There is now something of a national consensus that infrastructure is an economic and social policy opportunity that Australia has to use this decade to seize.

Therefore the challenge to each of us, and the guiding challenge for Infrastructure Australia, is to distil this infrastructure consensus into an actionable program of well-led and carefully articulated enabling policies; which progressively deliver much-needed projects across the federation.

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