THE recent Cities Summit 2011, held at Australian Technology Park in Sydney, was an inspiring event.
Speakers were asked what they would do if they were president for 100 days, and Transfield Services chairman Tony Shepherd gave some great answers.
He said all cities need to be productive to survive and that all infrastructure should be judged in the same way by aiding productivity, saving more than it costs, be in a part of a cohesive national plan, being sustainable and improving the quality of life for its users while creating new opportunities in terms of new industries and products.
When it comes to infrastructure, he said that many of the ingredients were in place, but we need will and funding and a sense of urgency. He believed Infrastructure Australia was a great initiative, but funding cuts had reduced its effectiveness.
So if he were in charge, he said he would first invest in economic infrastructure which raises productivity and quality of life, and put micro economic reform back on top of the agenda to drive productivity improvement.
He would use more carrot-and-stick motivation to get COAG on board (currently, he said, it is dragging its feet). And given that the costs of water and power are rising, we need a new plan for our industrial base and one to grow our smart industries and make all of them more export competitive.
In order to achieve all this, he said, we needed a flexible labour market and urgent skills training. Until that works, the only way to fill the void, he said, was via temporary immigration.