8 December 2009

Infrastructure Commissioner - do we really need one?

| Kramer
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The ACT Liberals have been stamping their feet and making noises about Canberra missing out on federal infrastructure funds due to the current lax planning, budgeting and delivery of large infrastructure projects. The Canberra Liberals have a new plan for infrastructure:

“Key elements of the draft exposure Infrastructure Canberra Bill include;

  • The establishment of an Infrastructure Plan;
  • creating an Infrastructure Commissioner and expert board that will assist the Minister to develop the Infrastructure Plan;
  • the Commissioner will regularly audit the state of infrastructure and progress of the plan and consult with the community on their priorities, reporting back to the parliament annually; and
  • the Commissioner will have the power to refer a work over $10 million to the auditor general for scrutiny.”

According to this CT report, Labor will soon deliver the much awaited ACT infrastructure plan, but believes an infrastructure commissioner is just more bureaucracy. So do we need an infrastructure commissioner and associated infrastructure board? or does the ACT Government just need a kick up the date?

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We already have departments and agencies that handle infrastructure for Canberra even if different bits are spread over the various groups. Why hire another mob of public servants to duplicate what is already allocated in terms of policy responsibility?

Reeks of John Cleese’s Ministry of Silly Walks. We don’t need more bureacrats we need shorter waiting lists for elective surgery.

Oh, guess i was thinking more in terms of how much federal appointees are paid for consulting and the like as well as the overblown fees the NSW Labor government pays for crap like this normally. Still so we’re talking what 200K a year then to do what exactly? Talk to the media about decisions made by public servants we already pay for, and what else exactly? Is this appointment going to be someone with real experience that will add real value, or ennd up being another “mates” appointment with someone who really doesn’t know squat about the actual complexities of what they end up overseeing?

I like what Gungahlin Al says – there’s also an element of generational equity in this, as well as more openness about the costs to taxpayers of major developmnets like the airport (which is all private profit and public costs).

I also agree with damien about the fragmentation of responsibilities – it means that developers are able to undertake ad hoc projects without proper scrutiny and quantification of the financial impact on the taxpayer.

I’m sick and tired of hearing the Libs fighting, there a pack of bitches.

Mordd said :

An infrastructure commissioner does what exactly? Apart from probably receive a salary of $1 million a year plus of taxpayers money to give speeches to the media about work done by public servants?

The Chief Minister is only on about $250k p.a. and a head of a Department gets about $25k less.

An infrastructure commissioner does what exactly? Apart from probably receive a salary of $1 million a year plus of taxpayers money to give speeches to the media about work done by public servants?

The ACT Liberals appear to have decided that they’re unlikely to see Government again in some time, so that being the case they’d like as much power as possible devolved away from the elected Government and into the bureaucracy – particularly independent commissioners, boards and so forth.

It’s an understandable strategy, if a little defeatist. Not to mention somewhat surprising from the supposed “party of small government”.

Gungahlin Al2:59 pm 08 Dec 09

Commissioner? No. That’s what we elect a government for.

Infrastructure Plan? Definitely. Should be out there in the open so the public can keep the government to account for it.

There should also be an infrastructure charging regime built into said plan. This way new ways that are caused by new development are paid for by the developer. And if anything is developed “out of step” then that developer can be charged a “bring forward” loading, to be recovered when infill catches up. The purpose of this is to make new develop cover its costs, rather than defraying them over the entire population. It is not a new idea, and is used by many local governments across the country. In Maroochy we used such plans across the shire. In particular, the entire streetscape redevelopment for the Mooloolaba Esplanade and foreshore parks were paid for through developer contributions on a per unit basis.

Admittedly, most of the development is done by the government in the ACT, but not always. It might also put more emphasis back on infill.

One benefit of such an approach is that it would allow the government to quantify the infrastructure costs imposed on all of us ACT taxpayers by the inappropriate development at the airport.

A major problem with infrastructure planning and admin in the ACT is that Transport (roads, PT) and Planning (roads, parking, PT infrastructure like bus station etc) are in seperate departments, under different ministers.

It is recognised as a major problem by the bureaucrats and public policy people, but nothing has/will be done.

By combining both departments under the same ministerial umbrella, a quasi-infrastructure czar could be created quite quickly with little extra admin overhead required.

Well seeing stanhopeless can’t manage anything correctly and the idiots of Canberra keep voting him back in, I think anything would help.

Why don’t we have a Department of Common Sense. Where 2 or 3 people can speak their mind on projects and override stupid decisions without being counselled for speaking up.

Kick up the date. Get the collective A into G.

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