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Budget missed opportunities: OECD raises infrastructure again.

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Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

47/05 25 May 2005


The Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) has for the second time this year highlighted the negative impact Australia’s economic infrastructure is having on our economic performance, particularly over exports.

In its 77th Economic Outlook the OECD has reported that:

Supply constraints and transport bottlenecks seem to have held back commodity exports. (pg 110)

As well, speaking on Radio National Breakfast this morning Vincent Koen, Chief Economist of the OECD Report, said that certain export sectors had lagged behind market growth which‘…was clearly related to transportation bottlenecks that impeded the shipping of commodities, in some sectors it is very clear that there are constraints on the supply side…’

The OECD report follows on the release yesterday of the DHL Export Barometer indicating that 27% of Australian exporters considered infrastructure capacity constraints a negative.

The Howard Government has received these two reports in as many days, both of which reinforce the position of the Australia Reserve Bank that infrastructure capacity constraints are a genuine problem for Australia’s economic sustainability and productivity, and one of the reasons the Reserve Bank increased interest rates in March.

The Howard Government had nothing in the recent Budget for infrastructure. This is despite the Reserve Bank mentioning on eleven separate occasions since May 2001, the negative impact infrastructure capacity constraints are having on our economic performance.

In the meantime Prime Minister Howard remains silent on the report of his Export and Infrastructure Taskforce. The report was delivered to the Prime Minister last Friday amid extensive speculation that it would be released publicly.

It is the national interest for the Howard Government to release the Report as soon as possible.

Labor, business, industry and the States are ready to progress with a coordinated and cooperative approach to infrastructure. It is time for the Howard Government to step up to the mark.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651