Infrastructure

Day 24 of Blogvember. A full list of prompts for the month is available.

Many years ago I was employed as an Advisor to our State Government’s Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. This followed previous work in the State Department of Transport and for a large grains cooperative which built, managed and utilised transport and logistics infrastructure.

Infrastructure is often taken for granted It’s reasonable to suggest that’s when infrastructure is working at its best. When people start talking about traffic or fresh water or power failures it usually means something has gone wrong at an infrastructure level. Not enough road capacity has been built, the desalination plant has failed or the baseload power generator failed to get a steady supply of fuel. There are teams of people across all the various infrastructure providers responsible for ensuring citizens don’t think about them or their service. Mostly, these people do a good job. Infrastructure management relies on effective processes driving preventative maintenance schedules. Combined with regular capital works investment to upgrade, improve and stay ahead of the demand curve, infrastructure ideally stays ahead of demand.

The ingenuity of humans, that we are able to build, design and operate infrastructure so effectively is incredible. Additionally we have been able to develop an economic system that incentivises delivery of services. This includes the ability for government to step in as a supplier where market conditions don’t support commercial operations.

Infrastructure is also the enabler of unrelated money-making projects. Without basics such as power, water and Internet access, Australia couldn’t support the development and operations of companies like Atlassian and Fastmail, to suggest two technology-based business examples. Infrastructure enables these and all other firms to employ people, generate profit, and pay taxes. Infrastructure firms, however, rarely (ever?) are afforded the status that is probably deserving of them. Mike Cannon-Brookes has become a billionaire but I can’t find any CEOs of infrastructure firms that have become billion-dollar poster children for their industry. Rather, infrastructure firms are the staid companies that superannuation firms love to buy shares in, as they deliver a boring, regular dividend stream.

So here’s to the infrastructure, and the people that work on it, that makes our lives better each and every day. Please keep up your yeoman’s work… even if it goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.

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