Greens secure real public scrutiny on infrastructure decision-making


The Greens have secured significant amendments to the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill adopted today in the Senate.

The successful amendments will force the review of the government’s own infrastructure commitments with Commonwealth contributions of more than $250M. This comes after the 90 day Infrastructure Investment Pipeline review, just completed, deliberately excluded Labor election commitments including Brisbane Olympics infrastructure and the Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop from review.

Crucially, Infrastructure Australia reports arising from these and other reviews, will have to be tabled in parliament within 10 sitting days after completion. This will mean major infrastructure decisions will be subject to genuine public scrutiny.

This set of amendments also includes the addition of ‘social infrastructure’ in Infrastructure Australia’s remit, which was a recommendation (6) of the Independent Review of Infrastructure Australia.

The Greens also moved amendments to exclude fossil fuel corporation executives from being one of the three Commissioners of Infrastructure Australia under the new structure, which were unsuccessful after Labor and the Coalition refused to support them.

At least 4 board members of Infrastructure Australia have been current or recent directors of coal, oil and gas companies.

Quotes attributable to Elizabeth Watson-Brown MP, Greens spokesperson for Infrastructure, Transport and Sustainable Cities:

“Labor have made a big deal of reviewing the previous Coalition government’s commitments, but up until now have been unwilling to subject their own commitments to the same scrutiny.

“We’re in a cost of living crisis and people are rightly sceptical about big flashy infrastructure announcements when that money could better go to relieving cost of living pressures. So we think it’s only fair that the government’s own announcements are reviewed by Infrastructure Australia to make sure they stand up to scrutiny.

“Our amendments will ensure projects with a federal contribution of $250 million or more are subject to independent review by Infrastructure Australia, and those and other reviews will be subject to a far greater degree of public scrutiny than we’ve seen before.”

“It’s disappointing to see Labor and the LNP once again gang up to protect the interests of fossil fuel corporations by blocking the Greens’ amendment to keep fossil fuel execs out of Infrastructure Australia.

“If we want truly independent decision-making around infrastructure, we can’t have people with direct ties to coal and gas corporations on government bodies. I’ll continue to fight to keep the interests of big corporations, and especially big fossil fuel corporations, out of politics.”