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The big spenders

Thursday, 22 May 2008 ( #361 ) - CANBERRA, ACT, Australia
Local News Story
Industry and investment experience abounds amongst the newly announced members of Infrastructure Australia, the national body responsible for guiding the overhaul of the country’s infrastructure, and ensuring the government’s $20 billion budget for the job is wisely spent.

Led by Sir Rod Eddington, non-executive chairman of JP Morgan (Australia and New Zealand) and former British Airways chief, the committee includes Terry Moran (secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet), Dr Ken Henry (secretary to the Treasury), Jim Hallion (chief executive of the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure), Anthony Kannis (executive director of Western Australian Treasury), Dr Kerry Schott (MD and CEO of Sydney Water), Peter Newman (Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University), Mark Birrell (chairman of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia), Phil Hennessy (Queensland chairman of KPMG), Heather Ridout (chief executive of the Australian Industry Group), Ross Rolfe (senior executive, Babcock & Brown) and Garry Weaven (Chair of Industry Funds Management).

"Under the leadership of Sir Rod Eddington, this group has the capacity to cut through and identify the critical issues as well as the proven abilities to find innovative solutions to the infrastructure challenges Australia faces," says Minister For Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese.

The 12-member advisory council's immediate responsibilities are:

• Completing an audit of nationally significant infrastructure by the end of 2008;
• Developing an Infrastructure Priority List to guide billions of dollars of public and private investment; and
• Advising on the removal of disincentives to greater private investment in public infrastructure, including the complexity and cost of public-private partnerships.

Ultimately, the work and advice of Infrastructure Australia will inform the Government's allocations from the soon-to-be-established $20 billion Building Australia Fund.

Victoria expects to benefit from a significant portion of the fund – at least AUD10 billion, according to its Treasurer, John Lenders.

He says Victoria has a particular need for funding to reduce urban congestion, with the federal government estimating the state’s bottlenecks would cost families and the national economy AUD6.1 billion by 2020 if action was not taken.
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