Publication Details

Bowditch, G. (2013). Should users pay the toll for Australia's infrastructure problem?. The Conversation, (03 December),


Australia spends more on infrastructure today than at any stage in its history. Yet governments are unable to meet demand and don't expect ever to do so. What can governments do to keep up with escalating demand and community expectations for infrastructure? Reserve Bank assistant governor Philip Lowe says tolls and levies could be the answer to more efficiently funding the transport infrastructure we need - infrastructure he says would boost productivity and improve living standards. Tolls are just one issue likely to be debated as part of the Productivity Commission's current inquiry into infrastructure costs, which is considering how infrastructure is funded and financed by both the Commonwealth and the states. Governments trying to fix the infrastructure backlog face a number of constraints including money, suitable land access and community buy-in. Historically, Australia is a large investor in infrastructure with per capita spending of about A$18,500 pa in the past decade. This means the nation has pulled ahead of the OECD, reflecting two mining booms and nation building public spending.