Australia Markets close in 14 mins

Swan defends record on infrastructure


Treasurer Wayne Swan says the federal government is giving infrastructure financing "serious consideration" as a Labor appointee to the Reserve Bank board calls for budget deficits to fund new roads, railways and ports.

Heather Ridout and fellow board member John Edwards have told News Limited investing in key urban projects would spur productivity as the commodity price boom ends.

Ms Ridout argues that under-investment is constraining Australia, and she wants state and federal governments to go into deficit to fund the infrastructure.

"We have under-invested. Congested roads in cities are a major sign that we're not doing well enough," she said.

Asked if going into debt was the answer, Mr Swan said the government was considering a report by Infrastructure Australia on financing.

"When we've finished that serious consideration, we'll announce our conclusion," he told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday.

But Mr Swan said the government had increased infrastructure spending.

"We have been very big investors in infrastructure and we have increased substantial investment in infrastructure in our period in office," he said.

The treasurer described the national broadband network as a "huge microeconomic reform" that would lift productivity, and said the government had multiplied road and rail funding.

Dr Edwards, an economic adviser to former prime minister Paul Keating, said that while the NBN was worthwhile, Australia faced challenges from a high dollar and an ageing population.

"The big investment boom in mining, which has helped the economy over the last six years, is close to a peak," he said.