Thursday 30th Mar, 2017

Turnbull looking for innovative funding models

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is exploring the idea of innovative funding models for transport projects, designed to capture value from rising property prices around new infrastructure.

Turnbull made several comments regarding innovative arrangements for funding public transport projects at a press conference on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Sunday’s conference was to announce the Federal Government’s $95 million commitment to stage two of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, to join funding already announced by the state government and local council.

But Turnbull hopes road and rail projects can be funded in new ways in the future, reducing the burden on governments and promoting the development of more major, crucial pieces of infrastructure.

“The Federal Government will be making a capped grant – that is to say it is limited to this amount and no more – of $95 million to support the completion of this last stage [of the Gold Coast Light Rail] to Helensvale,” Turnbull said.

“This is not the only way the Federal Government can or should support infrastructure.

“In the future, we want to look at more innovative approaches.

“We want to look at arrangements where we can partner the state governments or with city governments as shareholders, as investors.

“We also have to look creatively at how we capture the value that arises from the increase in property values and the improvement in the utility of adjacent land from the building of infrastructure like this.

“This might be by owning part of the land or it might be from some sort of differential rating arrangement.”

Turnbull said he wanted to make sensible infrastructure decisions in his time as prime minister.

“Federal governments over the years, I think, have been reluctant to invest in public transport infrastructure,” he told the gathering.

“There is a range of reasons for that, but they are essentially historical. The reality is that you should assess the merit of infrastructure on its merits and not favour one road over rail or rail over road.

“And, you know, as cities become more densely settled, public transport infrastructure is of greater and greater importance. So, if you can’t have a roads-only solution, you can’t obviously have a rail-only solution either.

“So I think it’s just a question of taking a pragmatic, business-like, practical approach to it, no ideology involved. This is just business-like.”

He said the extension of the Gold Coast project, which will see it connected to south east Queensland’s heavy rail network, will be a “fantastic bit of infrastructure”.

“A project like this adds billions of dollars of value … to the Gold Coast, to the economy, to South East Queensland, the fastest growing part of our nation and of course such an important part of our economy,” he said.

“We, as a Federal Government, are delighted to be supporting it and helping make it happen.”