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Published 02 May 2013 11:57, Updated 02 May 2013 16:17
The proposed investment fund would help provide better public transport, says the Urban Coalition. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers MMH
Australia needs an investment fund that appeals to both institutional and retail investors to fund the country’s changing infrastructure needs such as better public transport, better urban housing and better facilities for an ageing population, a coalition of property development and planning groups says.
A so-called urban infrastructure fund that would be set up by the federal government in partnership with the states and territories would offer investors long-term returns more attractive than government bond rates by giving investors a tax rebate of up to 10 per cent on the value of their investment and by offering a capped government guarantee, says the Urban Coalition.
The proposal for a fund to support big-scale nation-building projects costing more than $100 million, as well as community projects, comes days after the federal government warned of a $12 billion shortfall in the budget this month. Business and development groups are concerned the deficit puts existing and future projects at risk. A new fund that draws in private money could provide part of the answer.
“A bipartisan commitment to planning and delivering better cities; to working collaboratively with the states and territories, and with industry, to prioritise and fund the infrastructure we need for jobs, growth and a better way of life is now more urgent than ever,” the coalition proposal, released on Thursday, says.
The coalition’s members include the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Association of Building Sustainability Assessors (ABSA), Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Architects, National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA), Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), Property Council of Australia and Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).
The coalition also proposes changing the Major Cities Unit, currently part of the federal infrastructure and transport department, into a department for cities and urban development, with its own minister with responsibility for cities’ policies across federal government portfolios.
Alongside this, government agency Infrastructure Australia, which gives independent advice to governments, investors and infrastructure owners, would play a stronger role, particularly in state government infrastructure and urban planning, the coalition says.
“Infrastructure Australia will identify those projects that qualify for credit enhancement through the fund,” the proposal says. “Infrastructure Australia would regularly publish a list of priority projects that meet agreed criteria and demonstrate a long-term investment pipeline to be supported by the fund.”