Infrastructure Australia calls for industry reforms

Infrastructure Australia has called for a renewed commitment to infrastructure reform in a new report which tracks the progress of what has been achieved since the release of the Australian Infrastructure Plan in February 2016.

Prioritising Reform, a progress report on the key recommendations made in the Australian Infrastructure Plan, found that while there has been clear improvement in the Australian infrastructure sector, there are several areas that still require significant improvement.

The Australian Infrastructure Plan made 78 comprehensive recommendations to address today’s infrastructure gaps and meet the future needs of Australia’s growing population.

It provided a reform and investment roadmap for Australia’s governments to ensure infrastructure drives productivity, improves standards of living and delivers world-class services in Australian cities and regions.

The new report found that there has been significant progress in the quality of city and regional planning over the past two years.

It found that governments were increasingly integrating transport and land use planning, as well as ensuring that significant corridors were being preserved for future infrastructure development in NSW and Queensland.

Prioritising Reform also highlighted the ongoing challenges facing the industry as the energy market navigates an influx of new technologies, new methods of managing supply and demand and regulatory uncertainty.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Philip Davies, was pleased with the progress made over the past two years but says that more needs to be done.   

“Over the past two years, it has been pleasing to see progress in heavy vehicle road charging, business case development, integration of land-use and transport planning and corridor protection. However, our progress report, Prioritising Reform, finds there are also clear instances where more action is needed.”

“The reform agenda we put forward in the Australian Infrastructure Plan is ambitious and politically challenging, but these proposed changes to the way we plan, deliver and use our infrastructure will deliver enduring benefits for all Australians” Mr Davies said.

The Plan recommended that the Australian Government initiate an inquiry into the potential benefits and impacts of road market reform, with a view to transitioning to a fairer and more efficient user-pays approach.

The Australian Government signalled its support for this proposal in November 2016 when it delivered its official response to the Plan, however no inquiry has been forthcoming.

“Road market reform has the potential to deliver significant improvements in network performance and address fairness issues, while also establishing a secure and sustainable source of funding for our roads.

“Given the significance of this change and the scale of community consultation and consensus-building involved, it’s vital that governments move forward on this important opportunity for reform,” Mr Davies said.

Mr Davies recently announced that he would leave Infrastructure Australia at the end of July after his three-year term as Chief Executive.

“I joined Infrastructure Australia shortly before the release of the 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit, which then informed the development of the Australian Infrastructure Plan, the Infrastructure Priority List and the Reform Series which has to date covered topics as diverse as value capture, public transport franchising, corridor protection, urban water, future cities planning and the case for infrastructure reform incentives.

“Over this period, it has been heartening to see stronger collaboration between jurisdictions, a vast improvement in the quality of business cases developed for major infrastructure projects, and the creation of dedicated infrastructure agencies to help strengthen Australia’s pipeline of future investments.

“Australia has never lacked vision, but we must keep up the momentum on reform if we are to meet our upcoming infrastructure challenges.

“Our hope in releasing this progress report, Prioritising Reform, is to encourage Australia’s governments to embrace this national reform agenda to secure the social and economic benefits of great infrastructure for many generations to come,” Mr Davies said.

Infrastructure Australia will deliver the next Australian Infrastructure Audit in 2019 and the next Australian Infrastructure Plan in 2021.

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