Do the numbers stack up?

This week marks the eighty fifth anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It was the wonder of its age.

Surprisingly, had we applied today’s infrastructure metrics it would not have been built. The 10,000 cars and horses that travelled over it every day could not fund the largest infrastructure project in the nation’s history.

In all, it took the state of New South Wales 56 years to pay the Bridge off – and by that stage the Bridge had paid for itself many times over in so many other ways. It opened Sydney to the north and the city never looked back.

This week, we look at the contract negotiations for Sydney’s second airport. It will be the biggest infrastructure project in Sydney over the next decade

Again, the debate is in full flight – do the numbers stack up?

We believe a second airport for Sydney will pay for itself many times over. A second airport provides capacity for freight, exports and the broader economy. It will be an engine for Western Sydney, already Australia’s third largest economy.

We are enthusiasts for great infrastructure projects because they build economic capability – and we believe in costed, long-term plans that involves public and private funding.

These debates aren’t just about funding infrastructure in our biggest cities – questions about building our energy capability are also dominating the public debate elsewhere in Australia. The Prime Minister’s Snowy Mountains 2.0 initiative announced only last week is one such debate.

Across Australia there is a multibillion dollar infrastructure backlog – including road, rail, energy and water.

That is why we support the work of Infrastructure Australia and its state counterparts in assessing and prioritising the value of projects, not just to the infrastructure’s potential operators but, more importantly, to the wider community as well.