CEO's update

Publication Date
14 October 2019

The voices that shape infrastructure planning

Over the past few months, Infrastructure Australia has taken a collaborative approach to strengthening Australia’s infrastructure planning.

By strengthening dialogue with diverse infrastructure experts and with infrastructure users, we ensure that our infrastructure planning is grounded in the needs of the community as well as the priorities of industry and all levels of government.

This is our guiding principle as we seek feedback on the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and assess submissions for the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

In the spirit of knowledge sharing, I was very pleased to begin October in London, where I attended the Australian British Infrastructure Catalyst and presented the findings of the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit.

The Catalyst brought together key stakeholders from the Australian and British infrastructure sectors to consider shared challenges and foster collaboration on best practice.

This knowledge sharing is critical.

As the Audit found, maintaining the current historic level of investment in Australian infrastructure will be insufficient to deliver on community needs. We have an urgent need to grow the efficiency, capacity and capability of our infrastructure sector. A rich evidence-base is the strongest foundation for delivering on this significant challenge.

Our British counterparts share many of the same challenges as we do: climate change, a re-ordering of the world economy and growing (and increasingly urbanised) populations.

It was fantastic to draw on the expertise of UK infrastructure practitioners to strengthen our infrastructure planning going forward, on topics ranging from large-scale urban transport to the future of air travel.

We will continue in this spirit of knowledge sharing as we work towards the delivery of the 2020 Australian Infrastructure Plan and the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

Your input will strengthen future infrastructure planning

Submissions responding to the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit close 31 October 2019.

Anyone can make a submission and your feedback will guide our infrastructure planning.

By providing feedback and submissions responding to the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit you can help us shape two key planning documents:

  • The Australian Infrastructure Plan (due for release 2021), which will respond to each policy challenge and opportunity presented in the Audit, give recommendations for reform and set a path for measuring progress.
  • The Infrastructure Priority List, which will continue to evolve with new initiatives added to reflect nationally significant problems and opportunities that have been identified by the Audit.

Infrastructure is only as good as the services it delivers to users. And yet users are often not at the centre of infrastructure planning and delivery.

To foster a diverse range of voices to inform our infrastructure planning, we are working intensively to reach out to communities, all levels of government and industry stakeholders in order to find gaps in our evidence and challenge or extend the Audit's findings. We aim to hear from policy makers, financers, infrastructure planners and most importantly the people and businesses who use and rely on infrastructure for their daily needs.

By creating an open dialogue on infrastructure we can ensure a robust evidence base that puts the community at the centre of decision-making.

If your submissions include a specific project investment, you should provide supporting documents through our Infrastructure Priority List submission process.

State of the Nation

Since commencing as Chief Executive of Infrastructure Australia in April this year, I’ve travelled around the country talking to people about the challenges and opportunities in their communities and how infrastructure can address these.

I was proud to be invited by the Committee for Economic Development to speak at the State of the Nation conference in September.

I used this opportunity to explore the issues affecting the 3.3 million Australians who don’t live in urban areas. I took the chance to address the findings of the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit, beyond the work underway in our growing cities.

A key finding of the Audit is that accessibility, quality and cost of infrastructure services varies depending on where people live.

3.3 million Australians – or 12% of us – live outside of our cities and regional centres. In fact, one in 10 Australians live in small towns with populations of fewer than 10,000.

The right infrastructure can unlock growth, but delivery in some parts of Australia is hindered by low populations, extreme weather, changing markets and high building costs.

Reorienting infrastructure planning around the needs of the consumer – the needs of all Australians – is a critical element of our ongoing engagement with diverse communities.

The investment proposals that will shape our future infrastructure priorities

Our Project Advisory team are currently assessing a diverse range of submissions for the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

These submissions have included investment proposals across infrastructure sectors, including programs of related works and investments to make better use of existing infrastructure.

The Priority List is a critical reference point for the most important infrastructure investments Australia needs over the next 15 years. While it is a live document and is updated regularly on our website, early each year we release a publication of the Priority List that includes summaries of each project and initiative.

The closing date for submissions for the 2020 publication was 31 August 2019. Submissions received after this date will still be assessed, but may not considered in time for the 2020 publication.

Getting a state-level view of our infrastructure needs

In November, I will meet with Infrastructure Australia Board in Adelaide, as well as with the independent infrastructure bodies established across the country.

Kindly hosted by Infrastructure SA, we will meet with Infrastructure NSW, Infrastructure Victoria, Building Queensland, Infrastructure WA and Infrastructure Tasmania to share expertise and collaborate on the priority infrastructure issues affecting Australians across the country.

I look forward to a productive and collaborative session with our state colleagues.

A strong national dialogue

Australia’s infrastructure networks will need to transform to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future. The only way to plan for the critical reforms we need in coming decades is to listen to and strengthen the voices of local communities in infrastructure planning and draw on the expertise of industry and policy makers.

Infrastructure Australia remains committed to supporting the national dialogue on infrastructure.

I thank you all for your contributions to this dialogue and encourage you again to contribute your knowledge and make your submission to our infrastructure planning for the next 15 years.

Romilly Madew AO
CEO, Infrastructure Australia