After consultation on the audit report it published in April 2015, Infrastructure Australia last week released the first 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan.
“Our plan sets out 78 recommendations for reform and provides a vision and roadmap to address today’s infrastructure gaps, and set us up to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell said.
The plan outlined the infrastructure challenges and opportunities Australia would face over the next 15 years. It also proposed solutions on how the nation’s productivity could be improved and the current standard of living be maintained and enhanced.
Some of the key themes raised in the plan included: ensuring fair charging for infrastructure services, making smarter investment decisions, preserving corridors to enable long-term planning and cost-effective investment, and embracing competition and private investment to deliver better infrastructure services.
Although the plan provided advice to governments, it was said the report had been developed for the “everyday user” as well, such as commuters, families and businesses.
“The plan recommends reforming the funding and operation of transport infrastructure, completing the national electricity market, improving the quality and competitiveness of the water sector and delivering a telecommunications market that responds to user demand,” an Infrastructure Australia statement explained.
It was said the plan also recommended linking Federal Government infrastructure funding to state governments to the delivery of national reform objectives to “create the incentives for change”.
At the same time as the plan’s release, Infrastructure Australia updated its Infrastructure Priority List, which included 93 projects and initiatives. Some of the key investments mentioned in the list included new metro rail systems in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, road and rail initiatives to improve urban congestion in Perth, and public transport improvements in Adelaide and Canberra.
“Some of the ideas will be tough to progress, but let that all be part of an open public dialogue about the infrastructure people want, the outcomes it should deliver and the best ways to plan and pay for it,” Birrell said.
“The public policy changes and major projects in the 15-year plan, once delivered, will drive our nation’s prosperity and maintain our quality of life.”
Consult Australia chief executive Megan Motto praised the report, saying, “The report presents an opportunity for governments to look at major reform to address Australia’s growing population and urbanisation challenges, in a way that supports economic growth, sustainability and liveability.
“Most importantly it suggests a sensible roadmap for implementation, recognising the inequity in funding and delivery responsibilities between federal and state governments.”
Motto stated, however, that the plan’s success would only be demonstrated through “implementation and improvement”.
“Government must realise that in order for this to happen there must be a compact between tiers of government and industry players to accept the need for significant change and work collaboratively to institute lasting reform,” she said.
The 15-year plan will be reviewed at least every five years, with the priority list to be regularly updated throughout the year.
The plan and priority list are available at www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au
Infrastructure Australia is the independent statutory body appointed to conduct research into and advise all levels of government, asset owners and investors on how best to develop the nation’s infrastructure.