Greens Treasury spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, welcomes the comments from Scott Morrison on regional community development and also on the value of ‘good debt’ for financing infrastructure. Both of these policy ideas have been high on the Greens economic agenda and were subjects of Senate Inquiries instigated by the Greens in the last Parliament.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “I travelled the country with a Select Committee I chaired, looking at how to better finance public infrastructure and came to the conclusion that the nation needed to significantly increase its borrowings to invest now.
“With near-record low bond rates and massive investment shortfalls in public transport, clean energy, and water and sewerage infrastructure, Australia should be borrowing tens of billions right now to invest in the right projects.
“I have been grilling the Treasury Secretary and the Finance Minister on the value of ‘good debt’ all year, and it’s positive to hear that the Treasurer now accepts that debt can be positive. But still I don’t expect him to drop his austerity drive in cutting social programs or to roll out any major new public infrastructure spend anytime soon.
“I also welcome the Treasurer’s comments on the need to tailor policies to some regional communities who have been left behind by policy-makers for decades. I established a Senate Inquiry into Regional Capitals in the last parliament to examine this specific issue.
“The Liberal and Nationals Senators however were not particularly interested in the economic future of regional capitals and failed to attend any of the Inquiry hearings in places like Townsville, Geraldton and Launceston.
“The Greens made a specific recommendation in the Regional Capitals report calling on the Productivity Commission to look at policies to benefit regions, especially examining previous attempts at decentralisation.
“It’s good to hear that Scott Morrison is following the Greens economic agenda. If he needs any advice on carbon pricing or reforming negative gearing he knows who to call,” he concluded.