New guidelines to drive greater transparency and accountability in infrastructure decision-making and reduce instances of major projects receiving funding before appropriate planning and assessment have been released today by Infrastructure Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor.
Developed by Infrastructure Australia out of a recommendation in the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan, the Infrastructure Decision-making Principles are designed to ensure major public infrastructure investments deliver the best outcomes for the community and the best value for taxpayers.
“The Australian Infrastructure Plan acknowledged that Australia's governments and the community would benefit from a set of clear principles to provide a benchmark for high-quality infrastructure decision making,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive, Philip Davies.
“While the Infrastructure Priority List has helped create a credible pipeline of future infrastructure investments, too often we are still seeing instances of projects being committed to before a business case has been prepared, a full set of options have been considered, and rigorous analysis of a potential project's benefits and costs has been undertaken.
“Ultimately, we want to ensure that community needs are properly understood, all options considered and communities consulted before projects are committed. This should include making better use of existing infrastructure by deploying new technologies or utilising the data we're already collecting.
“The Infrastructure Decision-making Principles should act as a guide for Australia's governments, establishing clear lines of responsibility and accountability for major infrastructure projects and providing the broader community with a clear set of expectations with which to hold decision makers to account.
“We want to see Australia's governments do more to engage with communities, both in communicating long-term infrastructure plans, problem identification and by incorporating community input in a meaningful way into the project development processes.
“Part of this involves being more transparent around project decision-making by publicly releasing the analysis and processes that form the basis of funding decisions.
“Many of these principles are already embedded in Infrastructure Australia's broader approach to providing infrastructure advice, as well as our Assessment Framework, which guides the assessment of nationally significant infrastructure priorities and provides advice to project proponents in preparing their submissions.
“The scale of investment in major projects and the long life of most infrastructure assets warrants rigorous decision-making processes. Our hope is that Australia's governments embrace these Infrastructure Decision-making Principles and give the community added confidence that decisions on public infrastructure projects are robust, transparent and accountable,” Mr Davies said.