There are encouraging signs world leaders at the G20 Summit will support the creation of a global infrastructure hub to co-ordinate investment in new roads, ports and other major projects, Telstra boss David Thodey says.
But Mr Thodey, who chairs the infrastructure taskforce of B20 business leaders, says any new body should not “pick winners” or recommend support based on environmental or social benefit goals.
Leaders of the G20 countries meeting in Brisbane on November 15 and 16 will consider a plan from business leaders aimed at stimulating investment in new infrastructure as a way to create jobs and drive global economic growth.
B20 leaders called on governments to give them a pipeline of bankable, ready-to-go projects and have suggested the hub as a clearing house for putting viable projects together with investors who have been cautious since the global financial crisis.
Mr Thodey told reporters that he had heard encouraging commentary about the hub proposal from the G20.
“I think it’s getting very serious consideration,” he said.
A new global infrastructure hub could be based in Sydney.
It would not be a bank with its own sources of funds but rather an agency with an initial lifespan of about four years, after which its effectiveness would be judged.
Mr Thodey said he would welcome the hub in Sydney but its location would be a decision for governments.
He said the hub should not recommend projects based on factors such as environmental goals.
“That’s not its role. It’s there to facilitate and enable, to make sure that funding moves and infrastructure projects are project-ready,” he said.
B20 leaders say up to $70 trillion of new infrastructure investment is needed by 2030 but under current conditions only $45 trillion will be built.
They say the barriers to the private sector investing in major infrastructure projects are political influences, corruption, poor cost-benefit analysis and changeable regulations.
Mr Thodey said with global interest rates still at record low levels and economic growth stagnant, it was “a great time for leaders to step up and be bold.
“Yes, there’s risk but… the people who create value and improve quality of life are those who invest,” he said.