Infrastructure And Skills - Invest For The Future

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11th May 2010, 11:15pm - Views: 706
Infrastructure and Skills - Invest for the Future

Consult Australia welcomes the Government's aims to expand the economy's productive capacity and invest in key skills and infrastructure, but the 2010-11 Budget does not go far enough.

Consult Australia supports a continuing reduction in the deficit, and applauds the aim to return the budget to surplus three years ahead of schedule. But we believe this can, and should be achieved in parallel with investments essential to help ensure our ongoing economic prosperity. Investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and skills are supported, but are not sufficient to meet our existing and future demands.

Consult Australia Chief Executive Megan Motto says 'The Government has outlined Australia's remarkably strong position relative to the rest of the world. This is both a product of the Government's ambitious fiscal strategy, and a continuing resource boom. This strong position presents opportunities that we should leverage now for the future.'

'Consult Australia welcomes the creation of a new infrastructure fund. The additional funding to increase Australia's freight capacity is an important commitment to address existing infrastructure bottlenecks and help reduce congestion on our roads. However, there is much more to be done. The first $700 million downpayment in the infrastructure fund, not due until 2012-13, is a long way from even beginning to meet a burgeoning national infrastructure deficit, currently estimated at $700 billion.'

'Major infrastructure projects have proven their value as a powerful economic tool to encourage growth across the economic cycle. The IMF estimates that for every dollar spent on infrastructure, the productivity returns are as high as $1.80. While our major cities struggle to compete under the weight of increasingly congested roads and public transport, investment is essential to support broad-based economic growth.'

'Consult Australia believes more could be done to promote early wins through climate change initiatives. Whilst we are very pleased that renewable energy is receiving increased funding, we believe additional funding could incentivise significant, broad-based energy efficiency measures, particularly those that can make a substantial difference to our GHG reduction targets.'

'The building sector, for example, is a major contributor to GHG emissions, and significant abatement gains can be made in the short term from greater energy efficiency. Measures to encourage energy efficiency in the sector would provide an insurance policy for climate change action, and reduce the cost of the CPRS across the whole economy when it is enacted.'

'Consult Australia also supports the investment of an additional $661 million in skills. However we are disappointed that the bulk of the Government's investment excludes critical professions and tertiary skills development, particularly in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In the Government's stated priority 'hot spots' of infrastructure, resources, and renewable energy, engineering disciplines are amongst the top skills in shortage for industry. These professional skills shortages will not be addressed through vocational education funding alone.'

For more information please call:
Megan Motto
0411 104 458

Consult Australia (formerly the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia) is the peak industry body representing consulting companies that provide professional services to the built and natural environment. These services include design, engineering, technology and management solutions for individual consumers through to major companies in the private and public sector including local, state and federal governments. Consult Australia represents over 270 companies, from large multidisciplinary corporations to small niche practices, collectively employing over 50,000 staff.

SOURCE: Consult Australia

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