In early September, Western Australian Treasurer Eric Ripper released the Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy Green Paper.
The Green Paper examines Western Australia’s infrastructure needs for the next 20 years, including how infrastructure projects will be identified and prioritised, and how the strategy will be updated so that it continues to remain relevant.
The State Government, Mr Ripper said, was revising its $18billion infrastructure spending program in the lead up to the 2007/08 State Budget. He admitted that it was “proving difficult to implement” due to acute shortages in the skilled workforce that have driven wages costs up at an alarming speed, along with the rising cost of equipment and raw materials.
The Green Paper will help the Government to identify key projects for prioritisation. It will also help to promote job and investment growth by providing greater certainty about the nature, timing and location of the State’s ‘big ticket’ infrastructure projects.
Public and private infrastructure investment in WA is expected to reach $650billion over the next 20 years. According to forecasts by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, the value of Australia's minerals and energy exports will rise by 18 per cent to $108billion in 2006-07.
Western Australia’s strong economic growth, at a rate of 14 per cent over the past year, and low unemployment levels have been driven by a more than 50 per cent increase in business investment in the last financial year. In this context, a detailed State-wide strategy to guide infrastructure planning and delivery is essential.
The issues canvassed in the Green Paper include:
- the roles of the public and private sectors in the provision of infrastructure;
- Government support of infrastructure for major projects, including coordination with land use planning;
- the State’s management of infrastructure project costs and timelines;
- intergovernmental aspects of infrastructure provision; and
- policy and regulation issues relating to the provision of infrastructure.
Public submissions on any issues raised in the Green Paper or on infrastructure matters in general can be made until Friday 15 December 2006. The White Paper, which will finalise the Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy, is due to be released in 2007.
The Green Paper can be downloaded at www.stateinfrastructurestrategy.wa.gov.au.