The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), Consult Australia and the Property Council of Australia (PCA) have all welcomed the country’s first Australian Infrastructure Plan that sets out the infrastructure challenges over the next 15 years and provides a clear roadmap towards more resilient and liveable cities.
Setting out 78 recommendations for reform to address infrastructure gaps, the Plan prioritises projects that primarily target urban congestion and national connectivity, among many more projects for water security, sewerage infrastructure upgrades, flood mitigation and investment in remote infrastructure. This infrastructure priority list examines Australia’s infrastructure deficit by addressing both ready-to-go projects as well as proposals that are at the concept stage.
GBCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew observes that the growth of Australian cities has led to congestion with the associated costs and loss of productivity. According to Infrastructure Australia, the cost of congestion is expected to rise to $53 billion a year by 2031 without significant investment. However, the newly released Plan will provide the roadmap to kick-start this investment.
Madew says investment in active and public transport options is being considered for the cities, helping reduce congestion, cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve overall health and wellbeing.
The Plan underlines the need to integrate sustainability and resilience into all infrastructure debates and decisions as good economic practice. A sustainable and resilient infrastructure can support growth and a higher standard of living.
Calling for transparency and long-term planning, Madew said decisions on major projects must be made objectively with the best cost-benefit analysis possible to avoid uncertainty when governments change. She added that the Plan provided clarity by identifying mission-critical infrastructure projects that will deliver the best outcomes for Australia.
Several of Consult Australia’s recommendations have been included in the Plan including tough issues such as road user charging and asset privatisation.
Consult Australia Chief Executive Megan Motto said Infrastructure Australia’s plan document explored a broad range of issues and challenges facing the infrastructure sector, particularly areas where political sensitivity called for a nuanced and pragmatic approach. By suggesting a Public Inquiry into road user charging for instance, the organisation has addressed both the lack of robust information regarding the current pricing system and the emotionally charged nature of this highly political issue.
She noted that the report presented an opportunity for governments to look at major reform to address Australia’s growing population and urbanisation challenges, in a way that supported economic growth, sustainability and liveability.
Consult Australia also urged the government to carefully consider the recommendations contained in the report and make a timely response while engaging with its industry partners.
Download the report here
INFRASTRUCTURE AUSTRALIA 15 YEAR PLAN PULLS NO PUNCHES, SAYS PCA
The release of Infrastructure Australia Plan is a wake-up call to policy makers that must not be ignored, according to the Property Council of Australia.
“This report pulls no punches on the logjam of infrastructure projects that Australia needs,” said Ken Morrison, Chief Executive of the Property Council.
“The report is a wake-up call to policy makers in federal, state and local governments that we need a pipeline of planned infrastructure projects and we need to better align planning and infrastructure.
“All too often we see a gap between planning and action.
“The end result is that the infrastructure that our nation needs is not built, nor is it ready to go.
“The fact that we only have two 'high priority' infrastructure projects ready to go needs to be a catalyst for change. Notwithstanding the recent work of many state governments, this report is a damning indictment on the adequacy of our infrastructure planning.
“We fully support the work of Infrastructure Australia in seeking to turn this around. To that end, Infrastructure Australia is providing policy makers with the independent, informed and frank advice that is needed.
“Our cities face a significant challenge, with three quarters of Australia's population growth in the next 20 years set to occur in just our four largest cities.
“As the infrastructure Australia report highlights, getting our infrastructure right is vital if we are to improve living standards and productivity.
Morrison said the Property Council was supportive of the UK style 'City Deals' which seek to unlock economic growth in our cities through partnerships between all three levels of government.
“We have no pipeline of projects that are ready to go. All too often governments won't start planning for a project until they get funding, not realising that planning for a project opens the door to funding.
“We need infrastructure and urban plans which reinforce each other, and that will work best if we hardwire this into our governance arrangements.
"The governance proposals in this report should be closely considered as a start, but more can be done in this space.
“This is a strong report, but we add a word of caution. We are concerned that the 'value capture' concepts currently being floated will become another impediment to growth and investment.
“Introducing new infrastructure taxes have the potential to stifle the very growth that any new infrastructure is set to create.
Morrison commended Infrastructure Australia on its report and will be encouraging state and territory governments to accelerate their work in implementing these findings.