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Building Australia « Previous | |Next »
September 29, 2008

The Building Australia Fund is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure fund set up by the Rudd Government to help modernize Australia by easing road congestion, roll out faster broadband services and build coal ports. It is to overseen by Infrastructure Australia, an independent body that will evaluate and scrutinize the various projects in terms of their economic importance.

So far it sounds as if the whole infrastructure push has a corporate agenda---- ie., limited to building infrastructure to help business--- rather than assessing infrastructure projects in terms of both their economic importance and greenhouse implications. Maybe this is because it is basically Labor's rebadging of the Coalition's AusLink during the last election. So ity is more about six lane highways than public transport. Still the failure by the Rudd Government to connect infrastructure development with climate change is worrying, given the imperative of Australia needing to adapt in a warmer climate.

The current debate about climate change is disconnected from the debate about infrastructure development, even though the two are deeply intertwined in making the shift to low carbon-economy. Few ministers in the Rudd Government are talking about prioritising climate friendly infrastructure--other than protecting the coal industry from competition and compensating them from loss of asset value caused by the carbon emissions trading scheme.

Business, of course, is saying that cutting greenhouse emissions by 10% is beyond the capacity of the economy. Business does not appear to be interested in building infrastructure so that Australia is able to live in a future one of more extreme weather events and natural disasters, inadequate rainfall and water shortages, higher utility and food prices and insurance costs, better health services for the vulnerable and aged, and which has much more responsible management of Australia's finite resources and fragile environments.

Business just want infrastructure built that will enable it to ship more rocks to China as fast as possible. China, apparently, is Australia's sure bet in a slowing global economy. Exporting more rocks is what is urgent, not addressing climate change, as exporting more rocks will protect jobs.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:49 AM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

Gary,
the Coalition aren't good on infrastructure either. They just talk about Labor's gigantic slush fund--investment being made for political purposes. More accountability being needed here is a good point; but so is linking infrastructure and climate change. The silence on this makes me uneasy.

Nan,
It's a perfect political opportunity for the opposition to play with Rudd's environmental credentials. Instead of waffling on about slush funds they could simply point out the inconsistency Gary refers to.

They'd get kicked for it in the end of course.

Nan,
adaptation to a warmer Australia and climate change necessarily means triage: prioritisiing and sacrificing some things -- industries, environmental icons (Kakadu, Great Barrier Reef, Corrong), jobs.

The right wing sceptics and the rent seekers are now using the economic crisis to make a case for more watering down and further delays on any action whatsoever. It's not possible with the financial crisis. Australia cannot afford it. We need to wait until things in the financial markets recover, return to normal and confidence is restored. Then, the decline in the economic growth of the global economy makes it tough to do anything too radical. Best to wait.

Thanks for really cheering me up. That's about the final straw for me as far as these neo fascists are concerned.
Here comes NSW inc, writ large.