The Australian Institute of Architects says that the politicization of key infrastructure projects such as Canberra’s proposed light rail line is of major detriment to long-term planning.
Following the costly cancellation of major infrastructure projects by local governments in other parts of Australia, the head of the ACT chapter of the country’s peak architecture body has called for the nation’s capital to stay the course on light rail.
The ACT’s Liberal opposition has indicated that it will scupper the development of a long-tout $783 million light rail project in the nation’s capital should it win the territory’s 2016 election.
Andrew Wilson, president of the ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, points to the immense cost to taxpayers incurred by the cancellation of major infrastructure contracts in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
These include the shelving of the East West Link in Melbourne, which estimates of the true cost for Victorian taxpayers running as high as $900 million.
In addition to the sizable compensation costs created by the annulment of the contracts themselves, Wilson said that the cancellation of major infrastructure project left industry under a cloud of uncertainty, as well as compromise efforts to engage in strategic planning over the long-term.
Wilson called for local government to avoid the politicization of key infrastructure projects, as well as greater consistency from both major parties with respect to long-term planning decisions.
“When a major project gets politicized, and it’s going to go ahead with one government but a change of government will abort that, at the end of the day it’s the taxpayer who pays for the cost of the delay,” Wilson said.
“What the Institute of Architects is looking for is consistency of policy and implementation based on sound planning and design professional advice and is not subject to the whims of a three-year election cycle.”
Wilson advocates the “development of clear objectives broken down to three to four-year milestones to overcome political cycles,” and better use of forecasting provided by government departments in order to achieve more informed infrastructure and planning decisions.