CEO newsletter - Principles of sustainability

Publication Date
09 April 2021

Principles of sustainability

Today, I’m happy to share with you our Sustainability Principles, which explain Infrastructure Australia’s approach to sustainability and how sustainability informs our work program.

We’ve released these principles to highlight the significant role infrastructure plays in promoting a sustainable community.

Read our Sustainability Principles 

Sustainable infrastructure protects and preserves the ecological processes required to maintain human health, equity, diversity, and the functioning of natural systems.

It is not just about building new projects, but also about the rehabilitation, reuse, or optimization of existing infrastructure. Sustainable infrastructure enables economic development and the efficient use of financial resources, while enhancing quality-of-life, and protecting natural resources.

Infrastructure Australia aims to share knowledge, promote good practice and facilitate collaboration and leadership. We want to put sustainability front and centre, so that meeting the needs of the present doesn’t mean compromising needs of future generations.

And not only future generations – already our communities are experiencing the impacts of climate change and the consequences of short-term thinking.

Components of sustainability: social, economic, environmental and governance outcomes
The four components of sustainability

Four components of sustainability

We believe sustainable outcomes are achieved when you balance economic, environmental, social and governance outcomes. Balancing outcomes in each of these areas will help communities to be functioning and fair, while not adversely impacting future generations and the planet.

These principles will inform our upcoming work

  • The upcoming 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan will outline practical and implementable sustainability reforms. These reforms have been informed by close consultation, collaboration and partnerships with industry, peak bodies, governments and the community. Sustainability is a cross-cutting theme that is considered in each chapter of the 2021 Plan.
  • As a national investment pipeline, the Infrastructure Priority List can promote sustainable outcomes by identifying and then endorsing sustainable investment. Capitalising on our national perspective, the 2021 Priority List put front and centre the need for investment in new energy sources and water security.

The next iteration of the Assessment Framework will provide advice on how we assess sustainability and how proponents can consider it in their proposal development.  

A laptop showing the Infrastructure Sector Compass web tool

Help us develop the Infrastructure Sector Compass

Today, we are launching a public beta version of a new interactive tool on our website:

Infrastructure Sector Compass

We have developed the Infrastructure Sector Compass to help infrastructure professionals, and the community, navigate the sectors.

The Sector Compass allows you to:

  • explore and review the industry and government organisations that make up the Australian and New Zealand infrastructure sectors. You can find the organisations in a particular sector (such as water or transport), or those that do similar tasks (such as construction or finance).
  • 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. Some organisation records currently contain data that are not substantiated or contemporary. In order to continually improve the Sector Compass, we encourage you to use the webforms to send us your feedback. 

Front cover of the Infrastructure Priority List

Infrastructure Priority List

If you missed the launch of the Infrastructure Priority List at the end of last month, a recording of the event is now available:

Watch a recording of the launch event.

The launch featured the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon. Michael McCormack, and our Chair, Julieanne Alroe, who introduced the major themes of this year’s release.

We were thrilled to see the engaging and challenging questions you sent in for our live Q&A with our CEO Romilly Madew and our Chief of Infrastructure Prioritisation, Robin Jackson.

Changes to the Infrastructure Priority List

We are enhancing the Infrastructure Priority List to ensure our advice on national priorities and opportunities for investment is clear and easy to understand.

The Priority List is intended as a guide for government decision-makers on potential future investments in productivity-enhancing infrastructure. As such, from this week, only proposals that are yet to receive funding from the Australian Government will be included on the Priority List.

Reflecting feedback from stakeholders across government and industry, this enhancement will ensure the Priority List provides a pipeline of investment-ready proposals for governments at all levels to consider.

We will continue to assess business cases for proposals that seek more than $250 million in funding from the Australian Government. However, if funding has already been allocated to a proposal, it will no longer be considered for the Priority List, as it will no longer be a potential future investment. 

Our evaluation of funded proposals will focus on identifying delivery risks and opportunities to realise project benefits. We will continue to publish these evaluations on our website in the interests of transparency.

We are currently finalising a major refresh of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework to ensure that it is relevant and practical. It responds to stakeholder feedback, improves alignment with state and territory guidelines and seeks to streamline processes where possible. The refreshed Assessment Framework and associated technical guides will be published by July 2021.

Infrastructure Australia’s role is to advise on national infrastructure priorities, assess the social, economic and strategic merits of projects and support best practice business case development. Funding decisions are made by governments or the private sector.

Text 'Regional strengths and gaps' over image of a beach

Submissions now open: an industry perspective on regional strengths and gaps

Infrastructure Australia has recently commenced a Regional Strengths and Gaps project, which aims to provide a national view of the diverse strengths and infrastructure gaps facing Australia’s regions.

An important part of this project is capturing the views of industries working in our regions. This input from industry will help us identify priority areas for future planning and analysis, and in turn encourage governments, industry and the community to come forward with solutions to address these challenges.

You can input into this process using our online submission form.


The project includes regions as defined by the Regional Development Australia (RDA) boundaries, focusing on 48 regions and consulting with state committees.

Following a national consultation process, we will release a Regional Strengths and Gaps report. This report will detail the strengths and prioritised infrastructure gaps for each RDA.

Submissions will be used as one of the inputs into the identification and prioritisation process for each RDA.

Submissions are open until Friday 16 April via the Infrastructure Australia website.

Make a submission

Text 'Australian Infrastructure Plan' over image of Australian city

Update on the Australian Infrastructure Plan 2021

Our Policy & Research team are in the final stages of drafting the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan.

The Plan responds to the challenges and opportunities set out in the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit, as well as the Infrastructure Beyond COVID-19 report released in December 2020.

The draft Plan includes close to 30 recommendations. To help government and industry act on these recommendations, they will be supported by detail on expected intermediate outcomes and time-sensitive enabling activities.

So far, our research has found that there has been substantive progress on the reforms proposed in our 2016 Plan. There are also several areas were further progress is needed.

Over the next few months, we will be engaging with key actors in government and industry on the proposed reforms most relevant to them. This will ensure our recommendations are practical and pragmatic, and based on the most contemporary evidence and knowledge.

If we have not already scheduled a briefing with you and you would like one, please get in touch. 

Alongside our work on the Plan, we have a number of complementary projects underway to:

  • identify regional strengths and infrastructure gaps
  • explore infrastructure risks
  • develop a roadmap to enhance sector productivity and innovation.
Screenshot of online training course

Access our online training

It has been great to see many of you accessing our online training course.

The Improving Investment Decisions course is designed for infrastructure professionals working on infrastructure proposals to submit to us for evaluation.

This course will be relevant to you if you:

  • want to submit a proposal to us to assess for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List
  • want to submit a proposal to us for assessment because you are seeking Commonwealth funding of $250 million or more.

When you complete the course, you can access and submit certificate to can access further training with us.

Access the online training course. 

What does the course cover?

The course will help you:

  • understand the role of Infrastructure Australia
  • understand how to use our Assessment Framework
  • understand the purpose of our evaluations
  • understand the process of having an Initiative or Project evaluated and your role in the evaluation
  • understand the value of engaging with us early.

For more information, contact

In the news

Romilly Madew on the Hear and Beyond podcast

In a special episode of the Hear + Beyond podcast, I spoke with Rae Johnston about driving economic growth in our regions and bridging the digital divide between CBDs and remote Australia.

“It’s really important that we ensure our regions have enabling infrastructure and the right connectivity. In our shift to digital last year, school children in regional and rural Australia were at a disadvantage.”

Listen to the podcast

Milennials and Gen Z lead the bush revival

I was happy to speak to the Australian Financial Review about the importance of regional investment:

Of the $110 billion allocated in last year’s budget to infrastructure investment over the next 10 years, more than $36 billion of it will be spent in the regions: a record amount of investment out bush.

Infrastructure Australia welcomed the budget, pointing out that more than 50 per cent of the investment opportunities on its 2021 Priority List benefit regional communities, versus only 25 per cent from its 2016 list.

“All Australians should have access to affordable, high-quality infrastructure services regardless of where they live.”

Read the article.

David Tucker speaks about infrastructure and property prices

Looking for a podcast for your morning commute? Our Chief of Infrastructure Assessment David Tucker is featured in this week’s episode of The Elephant In The Room Property Podcast.

David speaks with Veronica Morgan and Chris Bates on how investment in roads, airports and energy infrastructure supports our growing communities.

“The Assessment Framework (launching later this year) will change the way we undertake our #infrastructure evaluations,” David says.

“Alongside our economic lens, we’ll be looking at infrastructure from a strategic and social lens as well; thinking about long-term benefits for Australians.”

Listen to the podcast