Fifty years ago this year the Vernon Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Economy (1965) recommended the establishment of a Special Projects Commission (read Infrastructure Australia with teeth) and an Advisory Council on Economic Growth. This was scuttled on the advice of Treasury.
Fifty years on we have the same problem. Politicians and bureaucrats not having the interests of Australia at heart as our infrastructure future drifts aimlessly but our need for hard and soft infrastructure increases exponentially. The Vernon Committee argued for 100,000 annual migrants (around 1% of population as it is in 2015). This was also rejected by the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies.
No Labor or Liberal regime has been able to break away from the Treasury dogma to create an institutional framework driving public and private investment into infrastructure. For Australia over the next 10 years, employment growth will depend on our services sectors (tourism, education, health, business services). These sectors rely on high quality globally competitive infrastructure. The Federal and State Governments need a fast attitude change or the Global Services Revolution phase of economic history we are currently in will pass Australia by.
As with the 1970’s political shift to urban and regional planning, in 2015 ‘It’s time’ for a change and a 2015 infrastructure delivery plan. (Apologies to Gough Whitlam).