As we approach the end of 2017 Its a good time to reflect on the momentum that has been building in the infrastructure sector.
In 2017, we have seen positive changes including government commitments on important issues such as developing a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and increasing investment in planning and project development work.
We have also seen a steady stream of new business cases coming to Infrastructure Australia for evaluation, resulting in a strong list of projects and initiatives on our Infrastructure Priority List. In 2017 we assessed and added 11 projects to the IPL.
We are currently in the process of refreshing the IPL and will be ready to release it in the first quarter of the new year. The 2018 IPL will build on the current list, with new initiatives to reflect emerging infrastructure priorities across Australia, and updates to existing initiatives. As part of this process, we have received submissions from 35 organisations including state, territory and local governments and industry associations. Many of these submissions include several possible initiatives for inclusion on the IPL, while others focus on infrastructure policy challenges. These submissions will all be assessed consistent with the criteria set out in our Assessment Framework and will be reflected in the 2018 IPL.
Earlier this month we released a paper on urban water reform, as part of our Reform Series. The paper shines a light on the reforms that we need to make in this often forgotten, but critically important area of infrastructure. It shows that population growth and climate change are putting a major strain on already ageing urban water infrastructure. And that unless we take steps to reform the sector, water and sewerage bills could go the way of energy and more than double by 2040.
As part of this work we made a submission to the Productivity Commission's draft paper on National Water Reform. We hope that we have instigated a groundswell which will encourage governments to better plan for urban water over the long term.
While it is satisfying to look back and talk about past successes, our focus is now firmly on the future, and what we need to meet the expectations of users and tax payers.
Our board met last week to talk about our plans for the year ahead, but also to look a little further over the horizon and start preparing for the challenges the sector will face through to 2021.
Early in 2018, we will release the next paper in our Reform Series ‘Future Cities—Planning for our growing population’.
This paper takes an in-depth look at different planning options for our major cities. And for the first time, we have used scenario planning to provide the community and decision makers with a more robust picture of what the future could look like in our cities. We look forward to launching it early in the new year, along with the 2018 Infrastructure Priority List.
As we look to the year ahead I would like to encourage each of you to continue to do your bit to ensure infrastructure stays high on the national agenda and to take a long-term view of the planning, policies and reforms for good long term infrastructure outcomes for users and tax payers.
The best outcome for Australia is to have infrastructure that is well planned, well delivered and well operated.
On behalf of everyone here at Infrastructure Australia, I wish you all a safe and relaxing break. We look forward to working with you again in 2018.
CEO, Infrastructure Australia