Ten New Leaders Drive Infrastructure Forward

Friday, September 5th, 2014
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Ten new leaders have been appointed to a re-born body designed to lead Australia’s infrastructure push over the next decade and a half.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said 10 board members have been appointed to lead Infrastructure Australia amid a fundamental overhaul which has seen the organisation re-established as an independent statutory body.

Current chairman Mark Birrell will chair the new board while existing board members Nicole Lockwood and Dr Kerry Schott will retain their positions.

New board members will include PPB advisory director Gerard Blood, Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Julieanne Alroe, SAS Trustees Corporation chairperson Michael Carapiet, PrimeAg chief executive Peter Corish, Melboune University associate professor Colin Duffield, TasNetworks Pty Ltd chairman Dr Daniel Norton and business and strategic partnerships executive leader Peter Watson.

The appointments come as Infrastructure Australia undergoes a fundamental overhaul of its governance structure which has seen it re-established as a separate advisory body under legislation with board members appointed by the Minister.

Such moves are part of the government’s broader vision as to how the body should be run, which according to earlier media reports also includes publishing cost-benefit analyses for major federally funded construction projects and creation of a new finance advisory unit within the body.

The changes, many of which were foreshadowed by the Coalition prior to last year’s election, come as the body is seeking to develop a 15-year forward plan to meet Australia’s infrastructure needs.

In February, the organisation appointed ACIL Allen Consulting to help it conduct a wide-ranging audit of existing assets of national significance.

The changes also come amid increasing debate about how to fund the building of public asset in an environment of fiscal constraints, including via sales of existing assets and greater involvement of private capital.

In June, for example, the Property Council in Victoria released a report outlining 14 different ways that state could raise a necessary $50 billion in public asset investment over the next decade and analysed their suitability for projects in that state.

That same month, Birrell himself wrote about the need to explore more infrastructure financing options, including by better accessing private capital including superannuation funds and recycling capital currently tied up in areas such as ports or energy.

Welcoming the appointments, Truss said the new structure would provide for greater accountability and transparency regarding the body’s role.

“A more robust and transparent Infrastructure Australia with respected and experienced appointees is a key part of our plan to build a strong and prosperous economy,” he said.

The changes came into effect on September 1.

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