Joint Media Release with the Hon. Anthony Albanese MP.

The competition watchdog has backed Labor’s concerns about the Abbott Government’s asset recycling scheme, warning a lack of proper oversight and regulation could lead to anti-competitive arrangements. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission joins the Productivity Commission, Business Council of Australia and Australian Chamber of Commerce in raising concerns about the scheme.

The Abbott Government’s asset recycling legislation incentivises state and territory asset sales regardless of the nature of the assets sold, and gives Federal Parliament no ability to ensure such decisions are made in the national interest. 

This approach could have the effect of rewarding state and territory governments for selling off essential services and pouring Commonwealth funds into major projects that do not deliver the greatest productivity enhancements for the nation. 

The funding for this scheme was itself recycled, with the Government taking money from the existing Building Australia Fund and Education Investment Fund.

Last year Labor moved amendments in the Senate, requiring the Government to subject asset sales to parliamentary scrutiny and publish cost-benefit analyses for major new projects before they can access incentive payments from the Commonwealth.   

These subsequently passed with the support of the crossbench but were rejected by the Government in the House of Representatives.

The amendments lock in long term, best-practice accountability and transparency provisions which will ensure public funds are put to the best use to drive jobs and economic prosperity.

Labor believes the Federal Government should provide a leading role in working with states and territories in funding Nation Building infrastructure projects, including setting governance standards that allow decisions to be made in the national interest, not in accordance with the political cycle.

If good government starts now, the government should now pass Labor’s amendments. 

Tony Burke