Guide to the Infrastructure Priority List

How we assess infrastructure proposals and develop the Priority List 

The Infrastructure Priority List is a collaborative document. It is developed using submissions by state and territory governments, industry and the community and by our independent research, including data from the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan and 2019 Audit.

Our assessment of proposals for inclusion on the Priority List is guided by our publicly available Assessment Framework. The framework guides us, and those submitting to us, on how to identify nationally significant problems and opportunities, and how to consider strategic merit, value for taxpayers and deliverability. Through this transparent process, we identify infrastructure needs and guide governments towards infrastructure investments that will deliver the best value for communities.

The Priority List contains proposals using the key stages of project development:

  • Stage 1 - Early-stage
  • Stage 2 - Potential investment options
  • Stage 3 - Investment-ready proposals.

The Priority List is a living document, with new proposals added as we positively assess them. It is also reviewed and updated as proposals move through stages of development and delivery – that is, as they progress from early-stage to investment-ready, or are removed from the list once they receive delivery funding. This makes the Priority List a contemporary source of potential investments that evolves over time to meet emerging challenges and opportunities.

We accept submissions to the Infrastructure Priority List at any time.

Proposals are assessed against three criteria:

  1. Strategic fit (considers if there is a clear rationale for the proposal and how it aligns with government strategies and policies).
  2. Societal impact (assesses the scale of the problem / opportunity and its value to society and the economy).
  3. Deliverability (reviews whether the proposal can be successfully delivered).

What makes a proposal nationally significant?

An infrastructure investment is nationally significant if, based on the evidence presented, we expect the investment to have a material impact on national output by:

  1. addressing a problem that would otherwise impose economic, social and/or environmental costs, or
  2. providing an opportunity for realising economic, social and/or environmental benefits, or
  3. both addressing a problem and providing an opportunity.

As a guide, for a proposal to be considered nationally significant, it should concern a problem or opportunity that will have more than $30 million per annum impact on the economy (nominal, undiscounted). We also take potential unquantified social benefit considerations into account.

The monetised impact reflects the economic cost of the problems and/or value of the opportunities, not the financial (capital) cost of addressing them. We expect potential impacts cited in submissions to be quantified and supported by evidence, but recognise that some types of social and environmental impacts (such as irreversible environmental damage, loss of cultural heritage, or health and safety impacts) may not be readily quantifiable, particularly during the early stages of project development.

Alongside the impact on the economy, the following characteristics can inform our assessment of national significance:

  • The proposal will contribute to the Australian Government fulfilling its declared strategic priorities (e.g. Closing the Gap targets).
  • The proposal affects or is likely to affect more than one state or territory, such as a network utility operation.
  • The proposal relates to an asset or location that is unique and will have a materially positive effect on national identity or cultural standing.
  • The proposal relates to an asset that is demonstrated as critically important for access/ connectivity, where the only alternatives are cost- prohibitive (for example, water pipeline, freight rail line, road corridor). This would be most relevant for access/connectivity during a critical incident and/or for assets serving remote communities.

For each of these characteristics, a proposal should demonstrate its broad impact on the wider community or infrastructure system. That is, it should not be limited to the local area and instead have wide-reaching influence. National significance does not require the asset to operate nationally, or provide a service that impacts the entirety of Australia. Rather the asset, and its functioning, must be significant from a national perspective.

How to read the Priority List

The Infrastructure Priority List identifies which geographic region will be impacted for each proposal.

Fast-growing cities Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Smaller cities and regional centres Smaller capital cities, satellite cities and regional centres home to more than 10,000 people.
Small towns, rural communities and remote areas Small towns with populations of fewer than 10,000 people and more than 200 people, regional communities with fewer than 200 people, and all remote areas outside of recognised settlements, including connecting infrastructure.
Developing regions and northern Australia Developing regions with strong growth prospects and where industry composition is changing, and northern Australia, including a mix of regions across the Northern Territory, and the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia.

The Priority List also includes information about timeframes for each proposal. For early-stage (Stage 1) proposals and potential investment options (Stage 2) we list the timeframe in which a problem or opportunity is expected to have a nationally significant impact, to help decision- makers understand when that proposal should be progressed. For investment-ready  (Stage 3) proposals, the timeframe provides the proponent’s indication of when the preferred solution is likely to be delivered and operational.

The timeframes we use for proposals are:

  • near term (0–5 years)
  • medium term (5–10 years)
  • longer term (10–15 years).

The Priority List as an interactive list

You can use the interactive list to search the Priority List based on your interests and to find proposals based on the state, territory or geography where they would be delivered, the type of infrastructure they represent, and whether they were identified independently by Infrastructure Australia.

The list provides the most up-to-date view of the nationally significant investments Australia needs to meet its infrastructure challenges, and is continually updated alongside the Priority List.