Infrastructure Australia has released its 2021 Infrastructure Priority List which includes the addition of 44 new proposals and identifies a $59 billion project pipeline of nationally-significant investment opportunities.
The Priority List is a comprehensive investment roadmap for Australia, outlining our national infrastructure needs for consideration by Australia’s governments.
The 2021 edition of the Priority List identifies six High Priority Projects, 17 Priority Projects, 48 High Priority Initiatives and 109 Priority Initiatives.
Of the 44 new proposals – the largest number of new proposals ever added – more than half impact regional communities, with this being a key focus for 2021.
Ten projects also moved off the Priority List and into the construction phase, including the M4 Motorway Upgrade (NSW), METRONET Morley-Ellenbrook Line (WA), and sections of the Bruce Highway and M1 Pacific Motorway (QLD).
The key themes of the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List are:
- Opportunities to develop export gateways to support Australia’s international competitivenes
- Investment in new sources of energy and enabling infrastructure for hydrogen exports
- Driving economic development in regional communities and improving digital connectivity
- Investment to support digital health services in regional and remote Australia
- Addressing challenges around strategic planning for water capture, use and management
Infrastructure Australia has partnered with Infrastructure magazine for the virtual launch event of the Priority List, at 11am 26 February. The virtual event features an interactive Q&A session with Infrastructure Australia’s CEO, Romilly Madew, and Chief of Infrastructure Prioritisation, Robin Jackson.
You can register for free to watch the launch at https://www.ipllaunch2021.com.au/register/.
New additions to the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List:
High Priority Initiatives
‘Projects’ are advanced proposals that have a fully-developed business case that has been positively assessed by the independent Infrastructure Australia Board. Projects remain on the Priority List until delivery or construction begins.
‘Initiatives’ are proposals that Infrastructure Australia has determined have the potential to address a nationally-significant problem or opportunity. Infrastructure Australia includes them on the Priority List to indicate that further development and rigorous assessment of these proposals is a national priority.
Exploring the infrastructure investment focus areas for 2021
In addition to a focus on infrastructure development in regional communities; improving digital connectivity in regional areas; and investing in digital health services in regional and remote Australia, other key themes that came out of this year’s Priority List include new investments identified to improve the capacity and efficiency of Australian ports to support the country’s freight.
Some of these opportunities include:
- Western Sydney Freight Line and Intermodal Terminal (NSW)
- Rail access to Webb Dock (VIC)
- Australian Marine Complex infrastructure capacity (WA)
- Port of Burnie capacity (TAS)
- Hobart Port precinct capacity improvements (Tas)
- Common user infrastructure at the Middle Arm Precinct (NT)
In order to seize on the opportunities around investing in new sources of energy, the Priority List recommends:
- Expanding the role for renewable energy in the National Electricity Market
- Delivering infrastructure to enable hydrogen exports
- Investing in dispatchable energy sources to ensure the reliability and security of our energy networks
- Identifying a program of works to provide renewable energy to remote communities in the Northern Territory
In order to help provide greater water security, the Priority List also includes new proposals to support water security in Perth and Greater Sydney, as well as secure and utilise productive water via proposals for the Bowen Basin, South East Melbourne and the Barossa Valley.
Reflecting Australia’s changing infrastructure needs
Ms Madew said the Priority List provides an investment roadmap to guide Australia’s economic recovery and improve quality of life as we continue to absorb and respond to the shocks of COVID-19.
“We have added a record 44 new proposals to the Priority List for consideration by Australia’s governments across the broad spectrum of transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications and social infrastructure,” Ms Madew said.
“Spanning all key infrastructure sectors and highlighting investment opportunities across Australia’s unique geographies, the 2021 Priority List reflects our changing infrastructure needs.
“More than half of the investment opportunities on the 2021 Priority List benefit our regional communities, as we continue to draw focus on equitable service delivery and investments that will deliver affordable and quality infrastructure services for all Australians regardless of where they live.”
Ms Madew said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way Australians use critical infrastructure such as changing work patterns, a pause on Net Overseas Migration, and a 200 per cent increase in people moving from capital areas to regional areas.
“These changes present a range of new challenges and the Priority List looks to identify infrastructure investments that will meet the diverse needs of our communities in this new environment.
“Based on our own research and submissions from state and territory governments, industry and the community, the Priority List presents a consensus view of the investments needed in near, medium and long term.
“The importance of a robust, evidence-based investment pipeline has only increased as we look to recover from the dual health and economic crises of COVID-19, and grapple with further shocks and stresses including floods and bushfires, long-lasting drought, and a changing climate.
“We are at a crossroads between addressing existing infrastructure gaps and prioritising investments that will secure our future prosperity, with abundant opportunities to deliver infrastructure that responds to community needs.
“The 2021 Priority List, with its evidence-based proposals and clear focus on community outcomes, is a critical place to start.”
List welcomed by industry and government
The Federal Government welcomed the Priority List, with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, saying it seamlessly couples with Australia’s infrastructure-led economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased to see a strong focus on economic development in regional communities, with projects such as the Federally-funded Parkes Bypass highlighted by IA as a priority corridor which will deliver long-term benefits for the freight operators, farmers and manufacturers of the region,” Mr McCormack said.
“Corridor-focused improvements mean reduced travel times and improved freight productivity as this Government continues to support priority projects like these, ensuring goods get to market and drivers get home sooner and safer.
“The Priority List helps inform future Australian Government investments as we continue to deliver on our ten-year, $110 billion infrastructure plan which is laying the foundations for economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said the Priority List informs all levels of government and the private sector on what priority projects and initiatives are under development across the country.
“The Infrastructure Priority List provided important input into the Government’s considerations on which major national infrastructure projects should receive federal funding,” Mr Fletcher said.
“The Government has already committed to many of the initiatives on the list, which are helping bust congestion, increase road safety and improve travel times in both regional and urban areas.
“I am particularly pleased to see the addition of many projects in fast-growing cities to the list, such as the Armadale Road Bridge, following the assessment by IA as having the potential to improve congestion and decrease travel time due to pressure from expected population growth and is an existing Government funding commitment.”
Ainsley Simpson, ISCA’s Chief Executive Officer, commended Infrastructure Australia’s commitment to transparency, best practice and robust decision-making principles for infrastructure investment.
“We are pleased with the clarity of criteria used to assess potential infrastructure projects and the sharper focus on world-class infrastructure that delivers social, cultural, environmental and economic value to our communities,” Ms Simpson said.
“By embedding sustainability into decision-making at the earliest stages of projects we can consider whole-of-life outcomes of infrastructure.
“We have clear evidence that sustainable infrastructure projects not only deliver better environmental outcomes, but also maximise social, cultural and economic benefits.”
ISCA also welcomed the Priority List’s “holistic focus” on infrastructure projects across transport, utilities and social infrastructure. New projects on the list will address the international competitiveness of Australian ports, new energy sources and water scarcity.