New Federal Ministry bodes well for infrastructure sector

Australian Cabinet Ministry 2019

Industry bodies are praising the new Federal Ministry for placing elevated emphasis on key infrastructure, energy, logistics and planning for population growth to tackle Australia’s future challenges.

In the reshuffled Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, will retain his portfolio of Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

“The Deputy Prime Minister will continue in his role delivering our $100 billion National Infrastructure Programme, including the National Water Grid,” Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said.

Federal Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, Alan Tudge, has been promoted to Cabinet to continue his work of ‘congestion busting’ in urban areas and implementing a plan for Australia’s future population.

“A key focus for all of my Ministers and their Departments will be lifting performance on government service delivery. This will include congestion busting on regulatory and bureaucratic roadblocks, making better use of technology and better integrating service delivery across portfolios,” Mr Morrison said.

In addition to this focus on population management, Michael Sukkar has been appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, and will aim to implement the Federal Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. Luke Howarth has been appointed as Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services.

Road safety and freight set to be a key focus

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that he had given his Ministry five primary commitments to deliver, of which increased funding for road infrastructure is a part:

  1. Create 1.25 million more jobs over the next five years
  2. Maintain budget surpluses and pay down debt
  3. Deliver tax relief for families and small businesses
  4. Guarantee increased funding for schools, hospitals, medicines and roads
  5. Keep Australians safe, including online, and keeping our borders secure

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) praised Mr Morrison’s decision to incorporate freight transport as a specific responsibility.

ALC CEO, Kirk Coningham, said with the revamped lineup, Mr Morrison sent an important message to the industry and to the wider community with this announcement.

“ALC especially welcomes the appointment of Scott Buchholz as Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport,” Mr Coningham said.

“It is significant that freight transport is now a specific portfolio title within the ministry, and highlights that enhanced supply chain performance will be a priority for the re-elected Coalition Government.

Mr Coningham said ALC will be pursuing the matters contained in its federal election platform Freight: Delivering Opportunity For Australia, and ensuring that supply chain efficiency and safety is appropriately prioritised in government policy making.

“The most urgent priorities are the finalisation the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, establishing the National Freight Data Hub, making certain that electric freight vehicles form part of the National Electric Vehicle Strategy the Government has committed to develop, and doing more to enhance freight infrastructure in Northern Australia, so we can take advantage of the region’s proximity to growing export markets,” Mr Coningham said.

Portfolios hint at sustainability focus

Changes in infrastructure and energy portfolios have drawn support from sustainability industry bodies.

Angus Taylor has been reappointed as Minister for Energy and his portfolio will take on Emissions Reduction. Mr Morrison, said this move is to ensure “we have a strong focus on lowering Australians’ power bills and meeting our 2030 emissions targets”.

Sussan Ley will return to Cabinet as Minister for the Environment. She will bring a focus on practical and local environmental outcomes as well as waste reduction and recycling.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has welcomed the new Ministry’s elevated focus on emissions reductions, infrastructure, population, and housing and homelessness which it claims reflect the key growth challenges facing Australia.

GBCA’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Cartlege, said that he hoped putting emissions reductions back with energy would create a renewed impetus from government to examine the huge efficiencies the built environment had to offer on the demand side of the energy equation.

“The Prime Minister has put together a Cabinet and broader Ministry that is carefully calibrated to tackle some of the biggest emerging challenges facing the nation,” Mr Cartlege said.

“From ensuring Australians have access [to] affordable homes, to managing the growth of our major centres and ensuring we meet our emissions reductions obligations, this ministerial line-up looks to the future and the solutions that need to be put in place now.”

Mr Cartlege said GBCA looks forward to working collaboratively with ministers to shape those solutions and see them implemented in a way that best serves all Australians.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to strategically guide the growth of Australia’s cities and towns so they are geared to deliver maximum benefits to those who live and work in them, as healthy, resilient and positive places for people,” he said.

“Likewise, governments have powerful levers they can pull to capitalise on the tremendous leadership shown by Australian industry to decarbonise, and incentivise others to realise the full emissions reductions potential offered by our buildings and urban infrastructure.”

Both the ALC and GBCA congratulated Anthony Albanese on being appointed unopposed as Federal Opposition Leader. Both organisations said they looked forward to working collaboratively with both Federal Government and Opposition to ensure a long-term, bipartisan approach to infrastructure planning, sustainability and investment.

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