Category Archives: Infrastructure

JOHN AUSTEN. Where to for Commonwealth infrastructure policy?

Legend has it that Charlton Heston flashed a Rolex wristwatch during a chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur movie. Some recent Prime Ministerial comments could be considered flashes of a policy Rolex in an infrastructure discussion fitted to the … Continue reading

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 JIM COOMBS. Public Goods

Before the advent of the “free enterprise market economy” model’s dominance of economic thinking, there was a distinction made between private and public goods.  The idea was that some things had to be provided for a healthy, well-ordered society: such … Continue reading

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LUKE FRASER. Good debt, bad debt: Poor infrastructure choices, no reform – and Lee Kuan Yew

In the Fairness, Opportunity, Security policy series and the resulting book, Dr Michael Keating AC and I wrote of Australia’s out-of-control transport infrastructure spending that: ‘It is scandalous that this investment escapes proper scrutiny, while at the same time the … Continue reading

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IAN MCAULEY. The budget – still tough on the young

The Commonwealth’s budget has a Keynesian boost for a sluggish economy, and is based on an optimistic, or even heroic, assumption that economic growth will deliver a fiscal surplus within a few years. We have heard similar claims from treasurers, … Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE. It’s time for Labor to think big about policy – a people’s bank!

Tony Abbott is not the only one anticipating a change of government at the next election. Voters across the board are increasingly fed up with the Coalition and there are even signs that some of its most devoted cheer leaders … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment and climate, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

DAVID JAMES. Deconstructing the privatisation scam

It is increasingly evident how pernicious the privatisation myth is. Two recent examples have underlined it: the failings in Australia’s privatised energy grid and the usurious pricing in airport car parks. Both examples demonstrated that it is folly to expect … Continue reading

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Sydney house prices – an increase of 18.9% in one year!

With only a month to go to the federal budget, the news that Sydney’s median dwelling prices rose by 18.9% in the 12 months to March is sobering. It is surely enough to jolt the Turnbull government into finally adopting … Continue reading

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RODNEY TUCKER. The Tragedy of Australia’s National Broadband Network.

A National Tragedy Australia’s National Broadband Network is heavily dependent on a soon-to-be-obsolete technology (FTTN) that most of the world has rejected. The FTTN-based network was sold to the Australian public based on an underestimate of Australia’s broadband needs (Tucker, … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, NBN | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW rail projects – a lot of explaining to do

Yet more questions arise about projects set off by former NSW Transport Minister now Premier Ms Berejiklian. This time about light rail. As for the port privatisations and metro, real answers are yet to come. The sooner a Commonwealth inquiry … Continue reading

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GEORGE BROWNING. The non-existent Australian government energy policy.

It has been clear for some time that the normal capitalist approach of privatising everything does not work in relation to energy. 

Posted in Environment and climate, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

IAN McAULEY. The National Electricity Market: What happens when economists get involved with electricity

John Menadue has asked me to write about the National Electricity Market – the NEM.  I should be qualified to do that: my first degree and my first years of professional work were in electrical engineering and in my later … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Environment and climate, Infrastructure | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

SUSAN RYAN. Older women need housing too.

In the growing discourse around affordable housing, the federal and some state governments are edging forwards. Recently proposed changes have merit, but they may exclude poorer older women in need of housing.  

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IAN MCAULEY. Warning from Colin Barnett: Privatisation is on the nose

The WA Government’s proposal to privatise Western Power – the government-owned electricity utility – was one of the factors contributing to the extraordinary anti-Liberal swing in Saturday’s Western Australia election. Privatisation of electricity has also been an issue in the … Continue reading

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LUKE FRASER. The ‘Big Picture’ in infrastructure: even more depressing than the little picture?

As news broke recently that the Sydney Metro project would necessitate the closure of Sydney’s Bankstown rail line for a few months each year until well into next decade, the latest State Transport minister urged everyone to ‘look at the … Continue reading

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Victoria’s recent housing affordability initiatives.

Victoria’s Labor Government has made clear its determination to do something about housing affordability, recently announcing a suite of reforms – many aimed at first home buyers. The changes are for the most part designed to boost supply of homes … Continue reading

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IAN McAULEY. South Australia’s Electricity Problems: Jay Weatherill Should Follow The Coalition’s Example

Spare a thought for the people of South Australia. Large parts of Adelaide blacked out for up to 18 hours without notice. Trams stopped in their tracks across busy intersections. A bitter and partisan debate in state parliament about responsibility … Continue reading

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Making housing affordable – Drawing inspiration from India and Singapore

Not many of those following the housing affordability debate in Australia would think of looking to India and Singapore for inspiration, yet the experiences of each of these countries are inspiring in their scale and ambition (and in Singapore’s case, … Continue reading

Posted in Housing, Infrastructure | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

JOHN QUIGGIN. The case for renationalising Australia’s electricity grid.

The public debate over the problems of electricity supply displays a curious disconnect. On the one hand, there is virtually universal agreement that the system is in crisis. After 25 years, the promised outcomes of reform – cheaper and more … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. The Sydney metro – the doubt and mess continues.

A little more real information about Sydney rail development is coming to light. It is not dispelling the doubts about metro. A decision on Badgerys Creek rail, which would have been straightforward without the metro, is now ‘years off’. The … Continue reading

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TIM AYRES. What We Leave Behind: The Case for Universal Inheritance, including an inheritance tax.

Older Australians are enjoying a growing share of Australia’s wealth; the wealth of younger Australians has stagnated. Structural changes to the labour market threatens to leave more young people in low wage, precarious work than any generation before them, and … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Housing, Infrastructure | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

JAMES O’NEILL. ‘One belt one road’ (OBOR) – a new geopolitical paradigm.

The scale of the projects (OBOR) is astonishing. As of July 2016 China had more than 900 contracts in place or under negotiation with a propose investment value of over $900 billion dollars. This was in addition to a separate … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. The Premier and privatisation; selling silverware for transport tupperware?

Commentators on Premier Baird’s years focussed on short term matters such as money from privatisations or inconvenience caused by infrastructure building. The most important question, the merit of infrastructure built with sale proceeds, may take years to answer. NSW will … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Ports

As a former Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian leaves a very dubious record in port privatization. The Chair of ACCC, Rod Sims has said ‘Privatisation (of NSW ports) is costing consumers and damaging economic reform’.  

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, International Affairs, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Badgerys Creek – testing times

The new airport at Badgerys Creek will test national competition and state transport infrastructure policies and may reveal the latter to be gravely flawed. The usual Commonwealth-state funding fight spectacle should be treated as a trivial pantomime and not distract … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Roads – another year of congestion-causing deficits

We are spending enormous sums on roads and increasing our national debt. Communities are being seriously disrupted and the congestion is increasing. When will we put a stop to this nonsense?  

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LAURIE PATTON. Turnbull’s New Year resolution should be a fibre-based NBN for everyone

 As we all make our New Year’s resolutions, here’s one for Turnbull: build us a better broadband network. It’s time to allow NBN to dump copper and revert to a fibre-based model. The sooner the better.  

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Sharing our space (Part 2) – implications for housing affordability

Sharing our space undoubtedly makes accommodation more affordable for those willing to share, albeit with some sacrifice in privacy. 

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Sharing our space (Part 1) – the sharing economy and beyond

Part 1 – Part 2 will be published tomorrow. Space sharing is an important part of the fast-growing sharing economy. New co-living paradigms are emerging which could have significant implications for the way we live and the type of housing … Continue reading

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OLIVER FRANKEL. Exploiting our under-used housing capacity – a way to ease the affordable housing crisis

The substantial under-used capacity within our existing residential built environment offers a quick, and capital light, opportunity to ease the affordable housing crisis. … There are an estimated 90,000 properties empty in Sydney and 83,000 in Melbourne. 

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LUKE FRASER. Good, bad and ugly of congestion charging in Melbourne.

Attention to Stockholm’s congestion charging system should be seriously studied in Australian cities. … In roads, we have a pricing crisis rather than an infrastructure crisis.

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