The local government sector has backed the Federal Government’s “good debt” infrastructure plans.

The Federal Government should not shy away from borrowing for public infrastructure investment, particularly while interest rates are low and Australia’s economic credibility remains competitively high, according to a joint statement by influential peak bodies.

The Australian Local Government Association, Planning Institute of Australia, National Growth Areas Alliance, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, Australian Logistics Council, Green Building Council of Australia and National Farmer’s Federation have issued the joint statement on Australia’s infrastructure future in the lead-up to the May budget.

They want Infrastructure Australia’s projects pipeline to be extended to 30 years.

While the organisations support fiscal discipline to drive down deficits, they argue this discipline should not come at the expense of ‘good debt’ being used to invest in productivity-enhancing nation-building.

The seven peak bodies also said that Infrastructure Australia has made a good start on national infrastructure identification and prioritisation, but argue that a 30-year funded pipeline of quality infrastructure projects is essential to provide investment certainty and stability for the private sector.

“The timely provision of … infrastructure is critical to our liveability and productivity. However, such infrastructure can't simply pop up and meet the needs of a growing and changing society overnight,” says Brendan Nelson, President of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

“PIA supports an extension of Infrastructure Australia's projects pipeline to 30 years. This will ensure our future infrastructure is the result of truly thorough and strategic planning and forward vision, rather than being developed to alleviate problems once they've taken hold.”

Robert Fuller, CEO of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, agrees.

“While we applaud the work Infrastructure Australia has done so far, IPWEA firmly believes that a strong, 30-year pipeline of infrastructure projects – coupled with whole-of-life asset management – is the right choice to secure our nation’s future prosperity,” he said.

“Australia’s cities are growing rapidly, and we need forward-thinking infrastructure plans to keep them from grinding to a halt. We also advocate that, contrary to what many think, debt is not a dirty word – borrowing money in order to provide communities with capital infrastructure projects is eminently responsible.”