Infrastructure central to catalysing economic growth
In 2019, the Australian Infrastructure Audit found that a new wave of investment and reform was needed to ensure Australia’s infrastructure continues to support our quality of life and economic productivity over the next 15 years.
The 2020–21 Federal budget, released by the Treasurer last night, has provided one of the largest boosts to infrastructure investment in recent times.
Consistent with the Principles of infrastructure recovery (COVID-19), the funding provides a staged and proportionate response that balances investment in smaller projects that can deliver stimulus quickly, while continuing to invest in the larger, productivity-enhancing projects that will strengthen the resilience of the economy to further shocks in the long-run.
The budget has also provided funding for Infrastructure Australia’s policy research that will support the critical need we have for quality infrastructure decision-making and reform over the next 15 years.
Infrastructure solutions to support Australian communities
The 2020–21 budget has provided funding for:
- $14 billion in new infrastructure projects to provide 14,000 jobs in the future.
- $2 billion road safety program. These funds will deliver small-scale road safety projects to provide short-term economic stimulus. Improving the safety of our roads is a nationally significant issue, as we recognised with the addition of a High Priority Initiative for Regional Road Network Safety Improvements to the Infrastructure Priority List in February 2019.
- $2 billion in new funding for water infrastructure. This budget sets national water security and resilience as a priority. This aligns with the Infrastructure Priority List, which lists two High Priority Initiatives for a national water strategy and for town and city water security.
$250 million to modernise our recycling infrastructure. A program for national waste and recycling management is listed as a High Priority Initiative on the Infrastructure Priority List. This funding commitment aligns with the findings of the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit that, without action, our disposal, recycling and transportation of waste will become more costly and environmentally damaging.
New funding for Infrastructure Australia
We are pleased to receive additional funding in the 2020–21 Federal Budget and over the next four years, to provide reform and investment advice in support of the infrastructure-led COVID recovery.
This funding will resource us to:
- expand the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan to respond to COVID-19
- lead new research on the market capacity of the infrastructure sector to deliver the investment pipeline, and
- conduct an 18-month comprehensive reset of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework, which sets the criteria for what we include on the Infrastructure Priority List.
As Australia looks to catalyse economic growth, understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on infrastructure needs to be a priority.
COVID-19 has shown we need to think differently about how we plan for times of uncertainty. Beyond capital projects, we need to focus on reform to shape Australia’s long-term recovery response.
We now have an opportunity to collaborate with government, industry and community to get the long-term settings right, and this begins with ensuring the next Australian Infrastructure Plan presents the best possible reform response to COVID-19.
In an extension of work first requested by the Prime Minister and other First Ministers at COAG in March, Infrastructure Australia has been tasked with delivering annual analytical assessments of infrastructure market capacity. Infrastructure Australia’s research will bring together Commonwealth, State and Territory and industry data to provide an annual snapshot of market capacity to support targeted investment and reform. This work will be critical to decision-makers to understand the capability of the sector to respond to the investment signals in this, and future, budgets.
Over the last 12 months, Infrastructure Australia has already been focused on improving the efficiency of our business case assessments. In an extension of that work, we are pleased to have the opportunity to conduct a major reset of the Assessment Framework, which is our methodology for assessing proposals for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.
Communities rightly expect decisions on public infrastructure projects to be robust, transparent and accountable. We want to ensure that our assessment process continues to champion this, while also supporting quality proposal development and enabling publicly-funded projects to come to market quickly. Harmonising and streamlining Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework with State and Commonwealth guidelines will be a key focus of this project.
To better understand Infrastructure Australia's strategy and focus in coming years, take a look at our latest Corporate Plan.
Collaborating on Australia’s economic response
Our success in seeing Australia through this recession, towards a prosperous future, relies on our collaboration across government, industry and the community.
We are grateful for the support we have already received from our industry colleagues, particularly the Australian Constructors Association and Consult Australia, for recognising the value of independent and expert assessments of Australia’s current and future infrastructure needs and our work in developing the evidence-base that will underpin industry reform.
We are committed to working as partners with industry and government as we map out the infrastructure reforms needed for recovery, deliver a clear view of the sector’s capacity issues, and streamline the process for assessing infrastructure proposals. Together we can deliver the quality infrastructure Australian communities need.
We look forward to continued engagement with you all over the next year and, as ever, we encourage you to reach out to us on any of these initiatives.