Federal spending on local government infrastructure – a lost opportunity
The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and COAG
and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Emissions Trading Design
In its headlong rush to spend money, the Rudd Government has missed a vital opportunity to drive major productivity gains through reform of local government infrastructure standards and specifications.
“Common standards and specifications across local government infrastructure projects would greatly reduce infrastructure construction costs,” said the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and COAG, the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP.
“In return for $300 million the Rudd Government should have insisted on vital local government reforms across Australia’s 565 councils. Instead, they just handed out cheques.
“At a time when we are facing major economic storm clouds we need to do things more and more efficiently and there is a need for reform of these important regulatory and other impediments.
“Today’s conference would have been the ideal time to resolve some of these outstanding local government issues, such as –
”¢ The lack of consistent standards of construction for road works in like foundation conditions
”¢ The lack of consistent allocation of risk for like projects
”¢ Councils requiring higher levels of materials or construction than that contained in a relevant Australian standard, and
”¢ The fact that there are more than 60 different profiles for kerbs and channel construction in one state alone!
“The Government can’t spend Australia’s hard earned surpluses twice so they need to make sure that we get the most out of every dollar spent
“There is an urgent need for COAG and local government to resolve the mish-mash of approaches to tendering, prequalification, procurement, licensing, contract standardisation, and the rest, that characterises disjointed regulation across states, territories and local government.
“These regulatory matters should have got equal billing with handing out money at the Rudd Government’s summit with local government leaders. It is a lost opportunity.”