Submission to Productivity Commission

There are three areas to which I draw your attention. These are:

1. The call for the Auditors-General to independently review effectiveness is sound, particularly as they are supported by an international professional framework for undertaking effectiveness audits, and are focused on improving public administration, taking the longer-term view. This recommendation could be strengthened by the recognition that Parliament will get value for money from investing in this capability among all Auditors-General in states, territories as well as the commonwealth.

2. Funding and financing up-front construction is easy. What is difficult is ensuring the infrastructure currently in operation and the added projects can be operated and maintained to optimize the services for which they were designed. The lack of attention in the report to maintenance and the funding and financing of maintenance that will be required to ensure infrastructure services continue to be provided to the standard required is a weakness that I ask the panel to address

3. When service is the focus of infrastructure planning, it becomes obvious that waste management is an infrastructure that requires investment. Cost shifting occurs when infrastructure at one level, especially at the local level, is assumed to be a cost and impediment to the delivery of infrastructure centrally. We must move from viewing waste as a disposal problem and move forward to treating it as something to minimize, recover, use as well as dispose. Whole of life impacts are to be considered at the design state. Not just factoring in the user charge for disposal but the whole of government cost of managing the materials and environmental degradation.

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