So the overheated economy has come off the boil. In fact, it’s probably boiled over and put out the gas.

That will take a lot of pressure off Australia’s infrastructure. The transport system in particular has been creaking at the seams lately under incredible patronage growth, and there has been a huge rush to ‘do something’ about it. Sydney has invented and dropped more metro schemes than you can shake a stick at. Melbourne has the Eddington ‘plan’. Brisbane has 14 billion dollars’ worth of rail tunnels on the agenda. You get the picture.

In my mind the economic downturn, combined with lower petrol prices, now gives us the opportunity to take a breath and start to plan properly again for the future. We can start to ask some serious questions: how much growth are we really likely to see over the coming decade? where will it be? where do we want it to be? what form will it take?

Last time there was a serious economic downturn in Victoria (in the early 90s following the collapse of Pyramid and Tricontinental), Melbourne got remade. It was changed from a run-down manufacturing city to a city of culture, entertainment and shopping. Unfortunately at the same time the road lobby managed to change the city into a freeway city, with hundreds of kilometres of freeway construction undertaken.

Maybe this time we’ll be able to take the time to think and do it right. So that next time there’s a boom we won’t be caught out again.