Whether the G20 can manage infrastructure investment to nurture economic growth was up for discussion at the second of three G20 Business Leaders’ Forums, hosted by Griffith Business School and law firm Minter Ellison.
Three industry experts analysed the case for using infrastructure as a driver of gross domestic product (GDP) and the emergent role of private capital in the infrastructure equation.
In the opening address Dr Doug McTaggart (below), non-executive director at UGL Limited, described a less than optimistic landscape where a projected rise in population figures in Australia and across the world will lead to a greater demand for energy.
He outlined a productivity gap in Australia where the population hike will bring a rise in infrastructure needs. He said freight needs were expected to go up by 50% by 2030.
“Unless we increase productivity through innovation, we are going to be sorely disappointed when the future arrives,” he warned.
“The costs associated with infrastructure have to fall,” he said. “The key with infrastructure investment is not economic growth but the efficiency of productivity.”
Andrew Rentoul, a partner at Minter Ellison, predicted the G20 Summit could be a platform for Treasurer Joe Hockey’s aspirations of linking private sector financing with public projects.
“There is a real potential for the G20 to be a lot more focused on infrastructure investment on this occasion,” he said.
With an eye on an alternative future, Associate Professor Robert Bianchi (below) from Griffith Business School examined past and present perspectives of infrastructure. He offered a glimpse of how infrastructure strategies could be reshaped going forward through a social benefit bond concept and an inverted bid model he is researching.
“The inverted bid model tries to bring the long-term interests of parties together earlier in the project, thereby generating better outcomes for long-term investors,” he said.
The third G20 Business Leaders’ Forum will complete the series on October 30 with the spotlight on countering international tax avoidance.