Competing demands for public sector investment for new social infrastructure has prompted Australian governments to increasingly turn to the private sector to form partnerships in the construction, ownership and operation of social infrastructure assets (PPPs). The research described in this paper focuses on ‘hard social infrastructure projects’ i.e. projects which relate to the provision of physical infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and prisons. Soft social infrastructure projects such as social security and community services are outside the scope of this research. Hard social infrastructure projects are characterised as generally being smaller in scale than hard economic infrastructure projects (motorways, bridges, tunnels etc.) and by their very nature, also tend to be complex, particularly in terms of ongoing involvement with the community. Thus private sector bidders for hard social infrastructure PPP projects are often presented with a situation where the financial rewards are less and the operational demands are more complex than for hard economic PPP projects. The paper traces the origins of hard social infrastructure PPPs in Australian and gives an up-to-date account of projects completed to date or in the pipeline. The paper also describes preliminary findings on additional costs likely to be incurred in bidding for hard social PPPs. Particular attention is placed on how PPP consortiums identify risks, opportunities and success factors both in terms of in the construction and operational phases of a project.
Governments and Communities in Partnership: From Theory to Practice. Governments and Communities in Partnership: From Theory to Practice. Conference Papers (Melbourne 25-27 September, 2006)