The development of this infrastructure - the right infrastructure - is, of course, important to Australia's long term development. Australia, with its growing population, needs this infrastructure to support long term economic development and social welfare. The same is true for many countries around the world - whether in the East, where societies are industrialising and infrastructure is needed for the first time, or in the West, where nineteenth century and early 20th century infrastructure badly needs rebuilding.
From a political point of view, this also translates into supporting economic growth - the siren call of endless increases in annual GDP. Growth is an attractive concept, indeed deceptively so in my view. If we earn more, we can afford to borrow more. If we borrow more, we can afford to spend much, much more. And if we borrow to spend, then we will, whether as parents or businesses or as a society, leave a much, much larger legacy of debt to future generations. If we also leave those generations the income they require to pay back both the principal and interest, then well and good.
But, as Dan Mitchell has highlighted, finding new ways to support more spending is not the answer - rather we must find new ways - absolute ways - to control spending. In particular, we need to ensure that in the good years, spending is held back, allowing debt to be repaid or surpluses to be built up. In the bad years, spending needs to be able to continue, to provide support where required in the darker days.
This creates incredibly big challenge for the politicians of today. Simply put, how can lower spending win votes? The pain of a strategy based on lower spending will be felt over the short term, whereas the rewards will emerge over the much longer term. In contrast, it is much easier to make promises now that begin to deliver a benefit to one interest group or another in the short term. Meanwhile the ever growing costs of such promises will be felt over the longer term.
And all of this must be done in an environment where, inevitably, the minority pay proportionately more tax, and the majority pay proportionately less tax. This is simply the 80:20 rule in action in relation to income and economic advantage, from which no economy can escape.
The answer? Ultimately individuals and businesses and Governments must build their faith in the benefits of choosing strategies and policies that are aligned with long term results. As I've written in "The Long Term Starts Tomorrow", this may be uncomfortable, but the opportunity lies in the fact that long term outcomes are driven by making short term decisions which lead directly towards the right end destination.