Australia Declines in World Competitiveness Ranking – Infrastructure to Blame
The revelation that Australia has dropped in world competitiveness ranking has led the ATA, ALC, QTA and Engineers Australia to call for politicians to act.
Concerns have been raised about our competitiveness as an economy after the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook revealed that Australia had dropped to number 18 in the world rankings.
The results come from an analysis of 4 areas, namely economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.
CEDA chief executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin said that the decline in Australia has become a trend, having done so for the past 5 years mainly due to infrastructure problems. He said the 2 areas that are of particular concern are technological infrastructure and scientific infrastructure. He explained:
“We are losing ground as a smart economy.. we don’t have the infrastructure.. to compete” he said.
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Professor Martin highlighted that the US retained the number one spot in the rankings followed by Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland. He also added that New Zealand had overtaken Australia in rankings this year, moving from number 20 to number 17.
In light of these findings, The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has called on government to aim freight transport infrastructure investment where freight concentrates. Infrastructure Australia’s National Infrastructure Audit report echoed the findings.
The National Infrastructure Audit report has been welcomed by the ALC and they agreed that governments should focus on realising the priorities as set out in the report, in terms of the choice of projects and way they are funded.
ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff states:
“The enormous costs associated with traffic congestion, particularly in our cities which have been identified by Infrastructure Australia, should serve as a wake-up call to all levels of government that this issue requires serious consideration and action,” ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says.
According to the report, major reforms are necessary to improve the way we finance and operate infrastructure. Kilgariff adds that there is a growing consensus that the current method of heavy vehicle charging and investment needs to be reviewed and debated. He went on to explain:
“ALC has been an active participant in this debate, as we acknowledge the potential benefits that could flow from the way we price and invest in logistics infrastructure, particularly when the dollars follow the freight.
“Funds collected need to be invested in the infrastructure used by the vehicle (that is, the revenue ‘follows the freight’) and not diverted into consolidated revenue for use for other purposes, and that any payments made to a road owner in the form of a CSO payment are transparent.
The report also emphasises the importance of choosing the right infrastructure projects for funding. This should involve “rigorous cost-benefit analysis” before public funding is awarded, Kilgariff added.
The Infrastructure Australia report also highlights the need to ensure the right infrastructure projects are selected for funding.
The article on Fullyloaded.com.au also mentioned reforms suggested by The Queensland Transport Association. The QTA believes states and territories need to put in place reforms which include:
• asset registers so they know what roads and bridges they own and their condition;
• four year forward road expenditure plans, particularly for road maintenance, which is chronically underfunded in Australia
• Heavy vehicle road asset service standards, so the infrastructure that industry buys is fit for purpose.
The QTA emphasised the importance of governments resolving current charging system problems before rolling out a new system.
The ATA agreed with this stance as did Engineers Australia, who were particularly concerned with the report’s findings on congestion. CEO Stephen Durkin explained:
“Engineers Australia has long spoken about how pockets of congestion around Australia as having a negative effect on the country,”
“Infrastructure Australia’s audit has now quantified this congestion, reinforcing it as a significant national issue.
Read more here: http://www.fullyloaded.com.au
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