Calls for reforms to Illawarra infrastructure

Brendan Lyon addresses members of The Illawarra Connection. Picture: GREG ELLIS
Brendan Lyon addresses members of The Illawarra Connection. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Illawarra's infrastructure requirements could be resolved within a decade with broad business and community support.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) chief executive Brendan Lyon told The Illawarra Connection it was important business and civic leaders remained vocal at a time when substantial reforms were necessary to address infrastructure shortfalls such as the need for a better road and rail link between Wollongong and Sydney.

"There are fundamental opportunities that I believe can be created for the Illawarra through a thorough and well articulated case for infrastructure investment in this region," he said.

"Each of you have a fundamental role to play in driving this discussion forward.

"I say this because solutions to infrastructure will only be achieved if business and the broader community demand honesty from our policy makers about how infrastructure is going to be funded.

"Getting more infrastructure requires major and difficult reforms including asset sales and particularly the contracting out of public services.

"Hard conversations need to be had about what we expect and require as a community and how it is going to be paid for."

He said a complementary process of reform was required to liberate efficient funding capacity.

That could be achieved through the sale of surplus assets, reform of inefficient spending and the implementation and consideration of targeted measures to increase the sharing of revenue from infrastructure investments.

"Each of us has a role to play in delivering solutions because it will require community debate and leadership," he said.

"If we are being honest the reason that infrastructure is not being built at the pace we would expect or require is because governments do not have the money to fund the investments that are required."

Mr Lyon said many of the outcomes would only be achieved through a considered process to evolve the public sector from its present role as a monopoly provider of public services into the role of a regulator and smart purchaser of such services on the community's behalf.

"IPA argues that all existing road user taxes and charges should be abolished in favour of a fair system that charges road users based on the time, distance and location in which they use the road network," he said.


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