National Infrastructure Commission consultation on governance
We would like to see stronger measures in relation to economic impacts on bill payers and taxpayers than those currently implied under recommendations on transparency. Different types of infrastructure have costs recovered in different ways - through user charges for discretionary purchases (for example, airport charges), through user charges for mandatory purchases of essential services (such as electricity and water infrastructure), through taxation (most roads), and through hybrids of these (such as the combination of taxpayer support and user charging for railways). In the end, the people who pay are the same, but the distributional effects and cumulative impacts of multiple infrastructure policy decisions will vary across the public based on consumption patterns, income, and multiple other factors.
We encourage the National Infrastructure Commission to give more scrutiny than is currently proposed to these interactions, to provide reassurance that the burden falling on particular groups (especially for non-discretionary infrastructure product types) does not become excessive. This should include a focus on the impacts on taxation as well as consumer bills, distributional analyses that look at the consequences for groups in different locations, different income levels, and, given the duration of many of the projects under consideration, over different lengths of time.