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3.1 Commonwealth sector infrastructure

The Commonwealth’s limited role in and ownership of infrastructure reflects the constitutional division of responsibilities between different levels of government and increasing market capacity to finance, provide and charge for infrastructure. The current level of Commonwealth infrastructure holdings also reflects policy decisions by successive Commonwealth Governments to reduce their direct involvement in commercial activities with a resultant shift in asset ownership to the private sector through privatisation programmes.

Accordingly, the Commonwealth provides infrastructure for its own functions and a small amount of public infrastructure. The other levels of government and the private sector are much bigger contributors. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth makes a significant contribution to State and local government infrastructure funding and has an important role in framing regulations that affect the sector.

Figure 3.1 provides a snapshot of Australia’s economic infrastructure.

Figure 3.1: Snapshot of Australia's economic infrastructure at 30 June 2012

As described in the text, this chart compares projections of the current rate of Parenting Payment Single with the proposed rate, and shows that the proposed rate would be projected to reach 25 per cent of AWE by around 2027-28.


Source: Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, 2013 and 2014.

Table 3.1 provides an overview of major Commonwealth infrastructure holdings as at 30 June 2013.

Table 3.1: Major Commonwealth infrastructure holdings as at 30 June 2013
Agency Description/examples

Fixed assets ($m)

Public corporations
Australian Rail Track Corporation Railway track and related infrastructure 4,467
NBN Co Broadband infrastructure 2,496
Australia Post Postal depots, sorting centres and related infrastructure 1,616
Airservices Australia Air traffic control and landing infrastructure 1,023
Other public corporations Various 1,199
Total:   10,802
General government sector
Department of Defence Office buildings, Defence Force bases, training areas and ranges 23,713
Department of Parliamentary Services Parliament House 2,220
CSIRO Laboratories, research stations, marine research and radio telescopes 2,138
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Embassies, consulates, overseas residences 2,134
Department of Finance Domestic Commonwealth-owned office buildings, law courts and other property 1,662
Defence Housing Australia Over 3,800 owned properties and over 18,300 under management 1,456
Department of Immigration and Citizenship Immigration detention centres and related infrastructure 1,101
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Lucas Heights Nuclear facility, Cyclotron 1,063
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 47 owned studios, carparks, offices and broadcast equipment 853
National Capital Authority Scrivener Dam, Lake Burley Griffin assets, bridges, roads and tunnels 769
Special Broadcasting Service Office and studio, broadcast transmitters and other equipment 97
Other general government sector Various, incl. navigation buoys, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust shipyard 9,021
Total:   46,227
Total Commonwealth public sector   57,029
Snowy Hydro Ltd Commonwealth 13 per cent shareholding, net assets value 233

Source: National Commission of Audit calculations based on data for the Commonwealth Consolidated Financial Statements 2012-13. Snowy Hydro Ltd, 2013.
Total land, buildings and other infrastructure, plant and equipment.