Greens spokesperson for Finance, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, today called on Tasmanian Liberal Senators to provide federal assistance for TasWater’s infrastructure upgrade program.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “At a time when critical local infrastructure upgrades are needed, like those identified by TasWater, the federal government is proposing to cut payments to the states. The budget shows payments to the states are set to fall from $9 billion to $4 billion over the next four years.
“The current model of infrastructure financing and project selection is broken. Where are Eric Abetz and his senate team on this issue?
“The Greens have proposed a model to reform the financing of infrastructure, backed up by the unanimous findings of a Senate select committee that I chaired. This model includes issuing Commonwealth backed infrastructure bonds to raise funds for upgrades of local infrastructure.
“Giving smaller state and local government access to a federal loan facility would allow them to borrow at the lower rates available to the Commonwealth. This would save the Tasmanian community in the order of $4.5 million per annum on the $900 million that TasWater is proposing to borrow.
“The Productivity Commission has pointed to fact that local infrastructure projects, including maintenance and upgrades, are often the some of the best value for money projects. However, the current project selection system is biased towards bigger projects—such as new toll roads—that are favoured by investment banking consortia.
“The Greens have proposed making the project selection process more open and transparent. Cost-benefit analysis should be made public before Ministers sign off on project funding so that we can start getting money flowing to the infrastructure that we need rather than to the infrastructure that the bankers want.
“The Federal Liberal Senators need to state whether they are going to help the Tasmanian community on this front or whether they are going to continue to only invest in projects that help the big end of town,” he concluded.
Budget Paper No. 3 — Table 2.9:
Payments to support State infrastructure services ($ million)