NICTA thanks the Productivity Commission for the opportunity to submit a response to the Public Infrastructure Issues Paper and Draft Report. NICTA understands the importance of productivity enhancing infrastructure development to boost growth and create jobs in the current economic environment:
“As the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Sydney stated earlier this year, the Council on Federal Financial Relations agreed that productive infrastructure is critical to Australia’s future competitiveness and economic growth.
It is imperative that Australia invests in infrastructure projects that address debilitating bottlenecks and build the capacity Australia needs for the 21st Century. Infrastructure spending can provide a short-term economic boost by stimulating construction activity, and ensure long-term prosperity by increasing the productive capacity of the Australian economy.
Investing in the right infrastructure can also boost Australian incomes by improving quality of life, and increasing productivity, including by tackling congestion, reducing business input costs and by helping firms better link with their employees and customers.
As Australia’s historic investment boom in the mining sector slows, there is an imperative to support investment and real activity across the country. The acceleration of infrastructure expenditure is a challenge, given that the fiscal positions of both Commonwealth and State Governments remain constrained. All levels of government are therefore looking at ways to address funding constraints".
As Australia’s largest Information Communications Technology (ICT) research organisation, NICTA consider this policy direction by Federal and State Governments indicates a genuine desire to ensure that any new infrastructure development is optimised for productivity from its beginning to end, and for the public investment consideration process to ensure the best value for money. Fortunately, there is a new and better way to achieve this.
Recent technological advances (or ‘Smart ICT’) over the last three years have created a fundamental shift in how infrastructure should be planned for, built and maintained in the future. New data analytics and optimisation techniques, for example, can now provide unprecedented insight into major projects at critical points.
For the purposes of this paper, Smart ICT will be a term used to describe a range of tools, techniques and capabilities made possible which can be applied to the various stages of the public infrastructure investment process.