With the pledging of $15.2 billion to be invested into infrastructure announced as part of the 2021 Federal Budget, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia says the money can be used to deliver even greater dividends if used correctly.
Ainsley Simpson, ISCA’s Chief Executive Officer, says the investment gives the Morrison Government the opportunity to completely reshape the future of Australian infrastructure.
“We welcome the federal government’s continued commitment to an infrastructure-led recovery, which now represents more than $100 billion over 10 years,” she says.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve a transformative impact. By leveraging planning, policy and procurement, the Federal Government can send strong clear market signals about our national priorities.
“Assessing infrastructure assets against social, cultural, environmental and economic performance metrics drives continuous improvement, capacity building and innovation. It can support productivity and livability in both urban and regional areas.
“Aligning this infrastructure investment with global best practice can deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent.”
The ISCA were also welcoming of the Federal Government’s commitment to vocational training, STEM scholarships and childcare subsidies, as well as the $600 million in funding for the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, established in response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
“These measures, together, will create more equitable and inclusive workplaces, and also represents an opportunity to upskill Australia’s workforce to deliver the ambitious infrastructure pipeline ahead,” says Simpson regarding the funding dedicated to VET courses, STEM scholarships and childcare payment assistance.
“This agency will also increase our focus on long-term disaster risk reduction and intergovernmental collaboration.
“Extreme weather events, systemic shocks like COVID-19, stresses from climate change and ageing infrastructure all highlight the need for us to prioritise communities when we are planning, delivering and operating infrastructure assets.
“We also know that investors want assets that deliver long term returns, which is why they are demanding greater scrutiny of social, environmental and governance outcomes.”
Ms Simpson says the infrastructure sector will meet next week to begin discussions into short-term opportunities that will improve collaboration across the sector, while also looking at how infrastructure assets are financed, designed, constructed, operated and used over the long term.
“Infrastructure is the great enabler and the foundation of a vibrant society. Together with our talented and highly motivated sector, we can enable a thriving, resilient, inclusive Australia through the design, delivery and operation of world-class sustainable infrastructure."