Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor

Infrastructure spending is never far from the headlines, especially during an election campaign.

But was Labor right to say in a tweet that public sector infrastructure investment has fallen 20% under the Abbott-Turnbull government?

Checking the source

When asked for sources on this claim on Twitter, a Labor spokesperson referred The Conversation to engineering construction data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics between the September quarter of 2013 (when the Coalition government was elected) and September 2015.

The Labor spokesperson said of the ABS data:

The relevant table in Table 1 is A1831482J – value of work done for the public sector. We compare the September 2015 quarter with September 2013 quarter when the Coalition was elected. This includes infrastructure work done for the public sector by both the private sector and the public sector. This shows a fall from $7666 million to $6121 million – a fall of 20.2%.

Is a 20% fall accurate?

To start with, this claim is out of date.

The number quoted in a press release issued by the shadow minister for infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, was correct when he first went public with this claim, in January 2016.

At the time of the above tweet, it reflected figures from the ABS' September 2015 report (released 13 January). But those figures were out of date by the time the tweet was issued on May 3. The December 2015 report was released on March 30.

The most recent figures have revised the September 2015 number. Now the data show that between September 2013 and September 2015 there was only a 17% drop in real terms. Using the newer data, the September 2013 to December 2015 comparison shows an even smaller drop of 15%.

Is the decrease attributable to the Coalition?

The second question is whether this is really driven by the Coalition government, as the tweet implies.

For one thing, it could be argued there is a lag between a new government being sworn in and a significant impact on infrastructure work done. The Coalition government didn’t release a budget until May 2014, but from the chart we have constructed below it is clear that engineering work had begun to decline in late 2012.

image Author provided. By September 2013, public sector engineering work had already declined 9% over the past year. The change of government has certainly not halted the decline in infrastructure spending, but the decline began under Labor. Who else is responsible for public sector infrastructure? It’s also inaccurate to lay the full decline in infrastructure investment at the door of the federal government of the day. The engineering activity includes spending by state and local governments, as well as federal money. State governments mostly have the ultimate decision on major infrastructure, and state spending on infrastructure is more than double that of the federal government. While the amount of federal funding, and the projects to which it is directed, will certainly influence the level of state spending on infrastructure, it is far from being the only factor. Federal budget papers show changes in the level of federal infrastructure investment. The majority of federal infrastructure spending is in the form of payments to support state infrastructure services. The chart below shows that these payments are very lumpy from year to year, and it is difficult to determine any clear trends. Federal infrastructure spending is weighted towards larger projects, so these jumps up and down from year to year are to be expected. image Author provided. An alternative assessment of infrastructure trends under the Coalition government is to look at the first two Coalition budget years (2014-15 and 2015-16) against the two preceding financial years. This gives an overall increase of 9% in real terms. Given the lumpiness of spending, however, it is difficult to make any sensible conclusion about the trend in federal infrastructure investment based on this number alone. Verdict Labor’s tweet was inaccurate. The ABS figures on which Labor had sourced its information were up to date in January 2016 but out of date by the time the tweet was issued in May. It is also an exaggeration to link an overall decrease in public infrastructure investment to the federal government, given its relatively small share of spending in this area. – Marion Terrill and Owain Emslie Review I agree with the findings and the thrust of this fact-finding mission. It’s probably true to say that the ALP statement may not have been meant to be misleading but was indeed an error based on not having the most recent data. However, it’s also true that most people in the industry would know that the federal government are never the biggest player in this space and so can’t take the blame for the bad news – or the fame for the good news – on infrastructure spending. Infrastructure is an issue for all three levels of government. Urban rail infrastructure, for example, requires partnership between all three levels of government, and the private sector. It’s a bit much to ask during an election campaign, but I look forward to the time when we are ready to advance Australia in this way. – Peter Newman Have you ever seen a “fact” worth checking? The Conversation’s FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/election-factcheck-has-public-infrastructure-investment-fallen-20-under-the-coalition-59533

Writers Wanted

The Best Android tools and Utility Apps


How to Find the Best SEO Services Company That Offers Guaranteed Results


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

How to Find the Best SEO Services Company That Offers Guaranteed Results

As a business owner, you have to be strategic about how you’ll be able to reach your target market. That is why entrepreneurs implement various marketing tactics to reach their goals. With today...

News Co - avatar News Co

Top Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO

SEO is crucial for the ranking of a website. You may think that SEO offers greater searchability while it can do more than this. The most cost-effective tool for the survival of smalls businesse...

News Co - avatar News Co

Nisbets’ Collab with The Lobby is Showing the Sexy Side of Hospitality Supply

Hospitality supply services might not immediately make you think ‘sexy’. But when a barkeep in a moodily lit bar holds up the perfectly formed juniper gin balloon or catches the light in the edg...

The Atticism - avatar The Atticism

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion