Seizing reform opportunities as we move into a 'new normal'
As Australians continue to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 and persevere through the disruption and uncertainty that has characterised the past 12 months, it is tempting to put reform opportunities on the backburner.
The impacts of COVID-19 have been devastating for communities and businesses across the country, however the pandemic has also provided an opportunity to do things differently as we move into a ‘new normal’.
When it comes to infrastructure reform, Australia is well placed to take advantage of opportunities in the post-pandemic recovery phase.
Compared to other OECD countries:
- Our economy has performed well
- Our infrastructure networks have proven to be relatively resilient and
Our service providers have shown that they are adaptable to community needs.
Progress since the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan
Infrastructure Australia is in the final stages of developing the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan for release in coming months.
Developed over 18 months in close collaboration with industry leaders, the 2021 Plan will include a prioritised list of reform opportunities and clearly identify who is best placed to drive change.
In developing these recommendations, we have also taken the opportunity to review progress since the first Australian Infrastructure Plan was published in 2016 to identify the unresolved challenges that need to be carried over into the 2021 edition.
We commissioned EY to develop an independent report: Progress since the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan which is now available on our website.
EY categorised our 2016 recommendations into 10 broad categories for their assessment, these are: productivity, population, connectivity, regional, funding, competitive markets, sustainability and resilience, remote and Indigenous communities, governance, and best practice.
EY’s report found that governments across Australia are at varying stages of progress against the recommendations in the 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan.
Key areas of progress include:
- Establishment of the Infrastructure and Transport National Cabinet Reform Committee
- Delivery of long-term infrastructure plans in every state and territory
- Formation of dedicated infrastructure bodies in each state and territory to progress reform and provide a strategic focus to infrastructure planning and project evaluation and
- Continued focus on City and Regional deals.
As reported in the Weekend Australian, EY's report also found that the infrastructure sector lags the broader economy in productivity.
The sector continues to undertake largely bespoke, project-to-project design and delivery and has been slow to adopt the digitisation of construction common abroad.
With one in every five dollars spent in the economy linked to infrastructure, the opportunity to reform the sector to support economic productivity remains substantial.
"If we are not able to efficiently deliver the increased infrastructure pipeline, there will be knock-ons to other building and construction sectors – such as residential and commercial – with impacts on access to materials and project costs," said our Chief of Policy & Research Peter Colacino.
“It will be important to shift the tidal wave of investment, ensuring investment is well staged and co-ordinated. If not, costs of projects will increase and cost blow-outs could occur.”
What to expect from the new Assessment Framework
The new edition of our Assessment Framework will be released at the end of June.
The Framework outlines the process for submitting an infrastructure proposal to Infrastructure Australia and the criteria we assess submissions against. It provides a best practice approach to developing infrastructure proposals to ultimately improve the standard of infrastructure we deliver to Australian communities.
Some key changes:
- Four new technical guidelines to provide greater detail on: risk, uncertainty and sensitivity testing; program appraisal; multi-criteria analysis and economic analysis
- New guidance on how to you can demonstrate social impact, quality-of-life impacts, meaningful stakeholder engagement activities, sustainability and resilience.
- A simpler, four-stage process that is compatible with most state and territory frameworks
- A more pragmatic approach in defining a base case to accommodate all state and territory practices
- An updated cost–benefit analysis (CBA) methodology
- Our Assessment Criteria now includes 15 supporting themes so that we can gain a more holistic view of the benefits of your proposal.
Find out more about the refreshed Assessment Framework in this recent Linkedin article from David Tucker, our Chief of Infrastructure Assessment: Beyond the BCR: A holistic approach to infrastructure evaluation.
Have you tried out our Infrastructure Sector Compass?
We have developed the Infrastructure Sector Compass to help infrastructure professionals, and the community, navigate the sector.
With the Sector Compass, you can:
• find out about other industry and government organisations that make up the Australian and New Zealand infrastructure sectors
• update your own details to encourage other organisations to connect with you.
This version is an early public beta release and is still under development. We encourage you to send us your feedback to help us strengthen the tool.
National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week is 27 May - 3 June. This year's theme is #MoreThanAWord.
It's a time for all Australians to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia and to celebrate our shared histories, cultures, and achievements.
Reconciliation requires action from all of us. The goal of the reconciliation movement is for a just, equitable and reconciled country, which will only be achieved when our First Nations are able to equally contribute to daily life of the nation.
To help people speak up, ask the hard questions and take action during and beyond #NRW, Reconciliation Australia have compiled 20 actions for reconciliation, such as:
· Learn how to be a good ally
· Know your local history
· Create culturally safe places
· Drive reconciliation in education
· Get your facts firsthand
Find out what action you can take here!
In the news
- This month's edition of Infrastructure magazine summarises the panel discussion at our 2021 Infrastructure Priority List launch event. Link here
- Also in Infrastructure magazine, a recap of the presentation our Director of Policy & Research Jonathan Cartledge delivered to the 2021 Critical Infrastructure Summit.